Peter One blends West African nostalgia with Nashville aptitude in first solo album : NPR

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with musician Peter One about ranging from scratch in Nashville after a profitable profession in Côte d’Ivoire and his first album in many years Come Again to Me.


For greater than a decade, Peter One made a residing as a nurse working the night time shift. Till lately, his colleagues and sufferers had no concept he was a well-known musician in West Africa.


PETER ONE: (Singing) Oh, I could not make it with out you, I am staring into the blues…

SHAPIRO: It is a track from the brand new album, “Come Again To Me,” Peter One’s first main label launch within the U.S. His rise to fame as a singer songwriter got here within the Nineteen Eighties in Cote d’Ivoire as one-half of a duo behind the acoustic folks LP “Our Backyard Wants Its Flowers.”


JESS SAH BI AND PETER ONE: (Singing in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: Songs from that album turned classics throughout West Africa and past. However by 1995, financial and political unrest in Cote d’Ivoire prompted Peter One to to migrate to the USA. He discovered work educating French and later in nursing. However he by no means stopped writing songs.

ONE: (Singing in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: And he believed it was no coincidence that his nursing job landed him in Nashville – Music Metropolis. For years, he pushed by his doubts about breaking again into the business.

ONE: Proper now, I really feel rejuvenated. I really feel like I am born once more since I am doing what I love to do.

SHAPIRO: Peter One lately stopped by our studio together with his guitar to share extra.

ONE: (Singing in non-English language).

Kavudu means let’s be one. Let’s be collectively.

SHAPIRO: And is that this within the language of Cote d’Ivoire?

ONE: Sure. The Gouro (ph). And I combine it with slightly little bit of French.

SHAPIRO: Why do you try this?

ONE: It is a message to my individuals as a result of my nation has been divided for the reason that election warfare in 2010, and we’re making an attempt to reconciliate individuals. So that is my contribution.

(Singing in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: I heard that lyric – we’re brothers. Why ought to we be at warfare?

ONE: Precisely – (non-English language spoken).

SHAPIRO: How does it really feel to be singing that track, these phrases, in these languages of your own home nation so many hundreds of miles away?

ONE: I really feel actually nostalgic, and I am hoping that they may hear this voice. They may hear this message and embrace it.

ONE: (Singing in non-English language).

SHAPIRO: Whenever you moved right here and commenced a brand new profession – nursing – was it tough to let go of the emotion, the creative expression, the reference to an viewers, that you just had as a stay performer?

ONE: In some sense, it was tough, however I used to be ready. Coming right here, I knew that it wasn’t going to be simple as a result of I wasn’t identified right here. I used to be no one right here. So strolling on the street right here was type of, , simple for me, ? No stress as a result of no one knew me. I needed to begin from scratch.

SHAPIRO: What number of years did you’re employed as a nurse – and you continue to do?

ONE: Yeah, I am nonetheless doing. I have been working for 16 years now.

SHAPIRO: What do your co-workers on the nursing residence suppose?

ONE: They did not know that I used to be a musician, and I needed to inform them as a result of I began, , touring, being off work on a regular basis. I needed to inform them that that is why I have been taking off on a regular basis.

SHAPIRO: How did they react?

ONE: Stunned. The administrator of the ability the place I am working – he was type of – why you did not inform us that earlier than?


SHAPIRO: After I hearken to the album, there are moments I really feel like, oh, I am within the Deep South of the USA. And there are moments on this album I really feel like, oh, I am in West Africa. Are you able to present us together with your guitar what these two sounds really feel like in your fingers?

ONE: OK, let me…


ONE: …Play you one thing very typical from the Ivory Coast.


SHAPIRO: Is that musical line from considered one of your songs, or is that simply typical?

ONE: Yeah, that is one thing else.

SHAPIRO: What makes that so typical?

ONE: It is the beat.

SHAPIRO: The beat – the rhythm of it.

ONE: The rhythm, yeah.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. And what wouldn’t it sound prefer to play one thing that’s usually Nashville?



ONE: (Singing) Do not go residence. Do not go residence. There’s nothing for you there, nothing so that you can see. Do not go residence. Do not go residence.

That is “Birds Go Die Out Of Sight.” It is on the album.

SHAPIRO: That track does have a really Nashville really feel, however I perceive the lyrics are a few good friend of yours who returned to Cote d’Ivoire, the place he died.

ONE: Yeah, he was a good friend of mine residing right here in the USA – greater than 20 years right here. And sooner or later, he began saying that he needed to go residence. However the second he began saying that wasn’t the best time to me. The nation simply was out of election warfare, and the state of affairs wasn’t again to regular but. So I saved telling him not – do not go residence but. It isn’t time. And he did not hearken to me. He left. And by the point I knew it, he was lifeless lower than three months after he left.

SHAPIRO: It is such a poetic title for the track – “Birds Go Die Out Of Sight.” You may have known as the track, do not go residence.

ONE: That is true.

SHAPIRO: However there’s one thing so stunning and metaphorical about “Birds Go Die Out Of Sight.”

ONE: Yeah. To me, it was like he was simply looking for someplace the place he can, , end in peace.


ONE: (Singing) Alone, I got here a protracted, great distance.

SHAPIRO: You are on a nationwide tour proper now?

ONE: Sure.

SHAPIRO: You might have performed the Grand Ole Opry. You have opened for large stars like Jason Isbell. You are 67 years outdated. Do you suppose you’re feeling this second in another way than you’d have if it had occurred in your 30s or your 40s?

ONE: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. I’d really feel completely different as a result of I would not have the identical expertise I’ve proper now. Perhaps I’d be bigheaded…


ONE: …Which I am not now. Yeah.

SHAPIRO: Now you are humble.


ONE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Every part’s come on the best time. God has his plans.

SHAPIRO: Was there ever a second you thought, it is time for me to surrender this dream?

ONE: Yeah, it got here – it occurred a pair instances. However each time, I stated to myself, what? For example overlook about music, and do what we’ll need to do. That is when the most effective inspiration comes, ?


ONE: And the most effective…

SHAPIRO: I am unable to quit now.

ONE: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: I simply considered a fantastic track.


SHAPIRO: Nicely, Peter One, it has been a pleasure speaking to you. Do you wish to give us one ultimate track to exit on?

ONE: Yeah, another track? Why not a love track?

SHAPIRO: I really like a love track.

ONE: (Laughter).

(Singing) Candy rainbow, I really like you. Great child, I really like you so…

SHAPIRO: That is singer-songwriter Peter One. His new album, “Come Again To Me,” is out now.

ONE: (Singing) …Child.

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