Grewing up in Derklé , Omar Pene spent his childhood like all other kids living in urban working class districts across Africa: hanging out, playing football, playing music. Derklé ‘s ancient houses and streets full of ruts were alive with human warmth, with dynamic and inventive young people. When the football matches were over, it was the turn of the local troubadours. People would gather on street corners for the music which would go on late into the night.
The Streets were a way of life for Omar Pene in the early 70s. Then, when is friends began signing up to the local football teams, it was time for Omar to hook up with the local bands. Super Diamono was formed from the merger of 2 major groups from Senegal: the ‘Cad Orchestra’ led by Cheikh Diagne and Mady Konaté ‘s ‘Tropical Jazz’. This is were Omar Pene started his musical career. First came CAD, with Cheikh Diagne, Bassirou Diagne and Baylo Diagne, an upcoming Dakar act in the early 70’s. Pene joined them in 1975 and soon afterwards they amalgated with Tropical Jazz, to form Super Diamono. The group was reshuffled when Baylo Diagne, a well-known guitar player in Senegal took on the leadership. At that time the group also contained the talents of Bob Sene, Pape Bass, Adama Faye and Pape Dieng.
Within a few years the fresh approach and energy which a succession of the new young musical talents brought with them, had transformed the Original band and “Senegals” famous band of talented young street rebels was born. Their regular club, Le Balofon, at No 2, Rue Macadon Ndiaye, which also fostered the talents of Youssou N’Dour and Ismael Lo in their younger days, became the fashionable hang out for the music lovers and club-goers in Dakar.
A tour of Casamance and Gambia resulted in an even tighter band. Ismael Lo joined them in 1979, becoming part of an anarchic group spirit which, unique in Senegal, prompted comparisons with Western rock groups.
During the second half of the 80s the group passed a turbulent period with many musicians passing through the band’s line-up. Around 1990 Omar Pene took over the captaincy of the group and ushered in a new period of stability and dedication. Since 1991 Super Diamono has operated out of a company, Mediator PLC, which Omar started to put the band on a firmly professional footing.
Omar Pene has now generated his own style of vocal delivery to carry the lyrics of the songs he has written for the band. His beautiful, haunting melodies and the sohisticated arrangements bear witness to the fact that good music is a universal language that draws people together. He now has a very dedicated and expanding following in Senegal and abroad.
The ten most recent years of Omar Pene’s career have been marked by ‘an opening to the international market’ , whose bassist Dembel Diop explains the reason. “The quintessence of Senegalese music is rhythmic. But to open to the international market, you need exotic harmonies to reach a wider audience. Here in Senegal, Pene has nothing to prove. It is a market of less than one million cassette buyers. So we innovated and brought more harmony to reach an international audiance”. “This is how the albums Myamba (2005), Ndam (2009) and Ndayaan (2011) have allowed Omar Pene to offer the public a very sparse music”, said Babacar Mbaye Diop, noting that the singer “now wants to conquer the international scene”, even if since the album People (1984) he was already known in Europe.
These discs cause the departure of the “long time Diamono members” Pape Dembel Diop and Doudou Conaré . The two instrumentalists considered that they were not enough involved to the new direction. Their departure didn’t change the attachment and affection that Senegalese fans and music lovers have for Omar Pene and his music. On the contrary, they have never been so strong. This is reflected in the resounding success of his return to the stage in 2014 after a year-long illness.
1 Liner Notes ‘Fari’
2 Liner Notes ‘Direct From Dakar’
3 Aboubacar Demba Cissokho de l’aps 23-04-2016.
DISCOGRAPHY (VINYL & CD)
(incomplete) Overview of Super Diamono key members
– 1975-2007 Omar Pene
– 1975-1984 Baila Diagne
– 1979-1984 Ismael Lo
– 1983-1986 Amadou Baye Diagne
– 1985-1987 Moussa N’Gom
– 1986-1991 Mamadou Maiga
– 1994-2001 Babacar Dieng
– 1997-2003 Mada Ba
– 1975-2005 Lappa Diagne
– 1975-1991 Bob Sene
– 1991-2007 Pap Dembel Diop
– 1991-2005Ousmane Sow
– 1975-1991 Lamine Faye (Lemzo)
– 1997-2007 Mamadou Conare