Native of Douala-Cameroon, from the Bandem (Yabassi) tribe, Charles was born into an average family of four. He was pampered by his parents, particularly by his mother and grand-mother who will instill in him the moral values of love, respect and hard work. During his childhood he was inspired by his mother, a self-educated seamstress who held a place of leadership in her community and trained young girls to become financially independent.
Douala (Cameroon) – Where it all started
His parents enrolled him in a catholic school situated in Douala, where he learned discipline and mutual respect.
As every young Cameroonian, he developed interest in soccer (football) and music. In 1973, after enrolling in Collège du Levant, at the age of 12, he finds himself in the same classroom with Frederic Doumbe, a New-York based and internationally renowned Cameroonian bassist. Also, he came across a musical band that gained his admiration and thus discovered his passion, the guitar, for which he dedicates most of his leisure time. He learned how to play the guitar with the help of his friend and by his 13th birthday, he became the guitar accompanist of Collège du Levant, where he gained popularity through various concerts. Later on, he focused on learning the bass guitar, an instrument he will learn to play single-handedly by listening and reproducing the melodies of great bassist of the 1970s namely Stanley Clarke, Vicky Edimo and Aladji Touré, whose melodies were influenced by afro, Funky, Pop and Makossa beats. In 1976, he became the bassist of Lycée Polyvalent band, in Douala, where he continued his studies and is nicknamed “Tamba Bass” due to his mastery of this musical instrument. He took part in various school based concerts and played in cabarets with friends like Spirit Enumedy, one of the most talented drummers of Douala in the 1970s.
Toulouse and Compiègne – His Journey in France
Charles’ passion for music isn’t welcomed by his parents; they will rather have him complete his studies in order to ensure he has a bright future. Thus in 1979, after Charles’ father passed away, his unwavering mother decides to sponsor him in France to further his studies; once in Toulouse (France), he enrolls in Lycée Polyvalent de Mirail, where he is once more noted for his talent and encouraged by his professor, to consider a career in music. Notwithstanding, Charles will focus on his studies in order to cater for the needs of his family left behind in Cameroon.
While scaling his way through school in France, at age 18, he met with two French families in Toulouse and in Rodez; these will give him all the love and support he needs to successfully complete his studies. Thus in 1981, he got his Bachelor’s Degree (B.A.) and got admitted in Engineering at Université de Technologie de Compiègne, from which he graduated as a Computer Science Engineer in 1987. While studying at the University, he became the conductor of a musical band, Charly’s Brothers, a group he founded together with his friends. As a result of their numerous performances given in Compiègne, the group will be noted for their unique blend of Pop, Reggae and Rock along with African beats and a selection of French musical styles. In 1982, this dynamic multi-talented instrumentalist (bassist, guitarist, drummer and pianist) develops interest in composing music.
His Trips around the World – Major Inspiration
In 1987, upon completion of his studies, Charles worked as an engineer, first in France, then internationally with the United Nations. For 11 years, he worked as an IT Project Manager, in order to help developing countries. During his frequent trips to Africa, he came face to face with people living in abject poverty, fighting tirelessly to have better living conditions. This experience will be the triggering factor to his musical career as a songwriter.
Montréal (Canada)- Production of his Debut Album
In 2000, he moved to Montréal, Canada, with his wife and children. In 2002, partnering with his friend, Yann Le Masson, a pianist, he founded the Marie Blues band at Collège International Marie de France (CIMF) in Montréal. The band will be made up of students, parents, teachers and employees working together in order to promote cultural life. Between 2013 and 2015, he signed up for music classes at the Musical Academy in Montreal. In 2015, he meets the artist Just Woan who becomes his musical arranger and producer; an encounter that subsequently leads to the production of his debut album.
His style of music and why the album is titled « Change the World »
In a changing socio-economic environment and climate, where people fight for survival and freedom, a pressing urge will lead the artist to express what he feels, through this first album intended to raise awareness in order to change the world. The diversified musical style (French, African Pop, Reggae and Soul Jazz) of this first album titled, Change the World, merges with the artist’s personality; a man who views himself as a citizen of the World. In this album directed by Just Woan, he is accompanied by high caliber musicians from Montreal and New-York, who also collaborated with great artists such as Janet Jackson, Pharell Williams and Richard Bona.
Charles would often say, he wishes to give back to the world a good measure of what he has received, through little gestures that can go a long way to impact people’s lives positively.