Diane Solo (Singer, songwriter): “I return to music with even more love to share”

In 1982, an album: N’Zikétio. The Ivorian artistic world discovers Godo Marceline under the pseudonym of artist Diane Solo. The song ”Nayoutou”, full of love, appeals to music lovers. Even today (40 years later), this song is considered the Lakota native’s musical identity card. Residing in France and somewhat withdrawn from the scene, with 7 albums to her credit, the very sensual Diane Solo is back, with more love to share.

After ”Best of Memories” in 2016, you disappeared from the radar while music lovers were expecting a new album. What explains this long silence?

My role as a wife and mother somewhat forced me to take a step back from music to devote myself to my family. Then life was not kind to me. I had a stroke that nearly killed me. It was 20 hours after the start of the crisis that I was taken care of but I managed to get out of it without much damage. Generally, when we are in this time, we no longer get up but me, God gave me the grace to get up. At first, I didn’t walk, I didn’t speak. My rehabilitation went very well. It’s true that I’m not 100% mobile, but today I can get around without any major problems and things are improving. The proof, I am in front of you, everything is going well and I will be back on the music scene very soon.

You have decided to return to your first love. Do the family constraints you were talking about earlier no longer exist?

I would say that they are no longer too heavy, so I sign my return. I am soon retiring from work in France, the children have grown up. I feel it’s the right time for me to return to my first passion, music. Also, this return is part of a social project with the launch of my foundation ”Brin d’Amour”. Music will allow me to raise funds to help my neighbour. I would therefore like to offer people in difficulty my music, my songs, my voice and a lot of love.

What is the musical color of this sound jewel that you are about to offer us?

I come back with a 7-track album entitled ”Thank you Lord” to show my gratitude to the Lord who rescued me from death and who has always been by my side. I am a miracle and I would be worth shouting this recognition loud and clear to God. But before, I propose a title taken from this album to announce its upcoming release in a few months. And the title in the form of a single is called ”Papa Soulard”. The text is a piece of advice to our alcohol-loving friends. I’m basically saying that when you drink, you have to know when to stop so as not to be unpleasant towards family and loved ones. Throughout the album, the musical color remains variety. I have always been a voice singer with my soft, slow, zouk, rumba style. I sing as usual in Godié, my mother tongue, and in French. The main theme is love, always love. I have always shared love in my songs, around me, through my music and my voice. What I have most wonderful is love and that’s what I want to give to music lovers.

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Absent from the music scene for a long time, aren’t you apprehensive about this return with a style that is no longer really popular in Côte d’Ivoire?

I am well informed about the news, because I follow what the new generation is doing. So I bring this new freshness to my music. Of course, you won’t listen to coupé-décalé as we currently do, but you will listen to the music, the real one. A good mix of new sounds that keep the primary substance of my style: voice and emotion. About precisely the new generation of singers, there are real talents. I particularly would like to work with Bebi Philip; that says it all. So there is good potential, but don’t forget us, we too still have value and talent to spare. There are still music lovers of our generation, the one after and their children who have been rocked by our music. It’s an audience that also needs to come to terms with beautiful music.

For this new generation that doesn’t know you, can you explain how you forged your career?

In the 80s, one day, an aunt of Fulgence Kassy who was a friend of my father heard me sing. Delighted, she wrote me a letter to give to her nephew so that he could supervise me. Fulgence Kassy told me: ”if it was Tata Lisette who sent you, I’m going to see what’s in your stomach”. That’s how he introduced me to television to join the Ivorian Television Broadcasting Orchestra (Orti). A real school of music with great maestros and great quality singers. Then it was the show ”Première Chance” hosted by Roger Fulgence Kassy. A springboard that allowed me to meet Houon Pierre who guided my first steps in the musical universe. Results of the courses, I released in 1982 my first album N’Zikétio with the title ”Nayoutou” which is still my musical identity card today. In 1984, residing in Paris, I was called back to the country to sing in my mother tongue (Godié) the anthem of the African Cup of Nations “Côte d’Ivoire 84”. It was a big turning point in my career which has since been launched with 7 albums today, namely Nayoutou (1982), Wa Wa You le (1984), Un Style (1986), Black Congress (1988 ), Superman (1999), Favorite (2006) and Best Of Memories (2016).

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Your generation is increasingly absent from the music scene. Don’t you have a real problem adapting?

As much as we need to adapt, you too, music lovers and players in the music industry, must adapt to us. If you don’t play our music, if you don’t invite us for scenes, we can’t exist. It is therefore up to all of us to make us want to come back on stage.

Do you think that moving to France, becoming a mother to the detriment of music, alienated you from your audience and negatively affected your career?

We can conceive of it that way, but it must be said that it is the circumstances of life that define our orientation. When I left for France, I did a training to learn how to keep and control the breath in order to improve my way of singing. Then, I tried to get into a production Major because I wanted to get out of the daily grind and other indecent proposals… (Laughs) sponsoring producers. Things didn’t go as I hoped. But in the meantime, I had performances in France and Italy and I also did a lot of backing vocals for several artists and albums. But that didn’t really meet my ambitions to join a big record company to establish a real international career. And so, it was in this quest for professionalism that I found love (Laughs). I am committed to marriage which also has these requirements and its constraints. So, I said to myself, music can wait because, at any time, I could come back to it.

Clearly then, it was love that made you leave the stage and abandon your audience?

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(Laughs) I admit it, I cheated on the music that was my first love to get married to a wonderful man to whom I devoted all my love. As I was saying earlier, today I have a stable family. It is therefore time to take care of my first love which has been neglected for a long time and also reconnect with my audience which I have abandoned. I hope he will forgive me for this long absence. Today I am definitely back with music and I have a lot of love to share with my audience through beautiful songs and melodies. I love the Ivorian public and I won’t disappoint them anymore (laughs).

Today, 40 years later, what assessment can you make of your career?

Already, it must be said that my assessment is in the love that I brought to music lovers. Every time “Nayoutou” plays, people remember what this 40-year-old song brought them. I have very moving testimonials from people who have told me that this song brought back their love that was leaving. Then, there are also many Diane Solo who were born after this first title. Discographically, I have 7 albums to my credit; the 8th, ”Thank you Lord” is coming soon. I certainly haven’t released many albums, but the whole thing combined makes a lot of songs, many of which are yet to be discovered. Overall, I can therefore say that the results are still positive. Today, I am back with a new vision and a new direction for my career. Nice surprises are coming with, as a launching point, the celebration, in 2023, of my 40 years of career.