Uniting Africa's Guitar Culture Through Music
In the realm of music, the guitar serves as a universal language, transcending borders and connecting souls. However, for Deo Salvator, a talented guitarist from Rwanda, it's clear that playing the guitar is just the beginning of a beautiful musical journey. Deo's life story is a testament to the power of music, cultural resilience, and the unwavering commitment to amplifying the voices of fellow African guitarists.
A Journey from Tragedy to Triumph
Born in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1994, Deo's life began amidst the shadows of a tragic past. A few months before his birth, the genocide against the Tutsi systematically claimed the lives of over one million innocent souls. Remarkably, both Deo and his mother narrowly escaped this dark chapter in history, a testament to fate's capricious ways.
As he grew up, music became a central theme in Deo's life, thanks to his uncle, a passionate accordion player, and music tutor. His uncle's influence extended to other family members, inspiring Deo's cousins to learn the piano and drums. This musical spark ignited a love for music within Deo, ultimately setting him on the path to becoming a dancer. However, destiny had an unexpected twist in store.
A broken lumbar disk prematurely ended Deo's dreams of a dancing career. Yet, as one door closed, another opened, revealing a new and thrilling avenue for creativity. The guitar entered Deo's life, becoming a vessel for his artistic expression.
Discovering Palm-Wine Music and Rwandan Traditions
Deo Salvator's musical journey in Rwanda was deeply influenced by the mesmerizing melodies of palm-wine music. This genre, characterized by intricate guitar fingerpicking and soulful storytelling, left an indelible mark on Deo's artistic soul. Listening to Rwandan palm-wine music on Radio Rwanda in the early morning hours was a source of inspiration and wisdom. The pioneers of this music infused their compositions with life experiences and a profound understanding of their culture, showcasing the enduring power of music as a vessel for storytelling.
Later in his journey, Deo grappled with the challenges of mastering the intricate four-fingered guitar technique. He realized that the essence of playing the guitar extended beyond technique. What truly matters is what comes from the heart, a realization that transformed his musical path. Drawing inspiration from Rwandan Old Music (Karahanyuze), Deo ventured into songwriting, eventually giving birth to his first baby – an album titled "Life Within, Vol 1."
Fingerpickers in Africa: Uniting the Guitarists
Deo Salvator's passion for fingerstyle guitar led to the creation of "Fingerpickers in Africa," an organization established in 2019. The primary objective of this initiative is to unite fingerstyle guitarists across the African continent and promote the unique and soulful style of fingerstyle music. Deo understands that preserving this traditional style is not just a matter of technique but also an essential element in sustaining cultural heritage.
But the mission of Fingerpickers in Africa goes beyond music; it is about sharing the only natural initial investment, which is art. This initiative encourages the exchange of creativity, culture, and the celebration of artistry among musicians and enthusiasts. Deo believes that art is a unifying force, capable of bridging the gaps between diverse cultures.
Stay in the Loop, Tag Along on This Musical Odyssey
Deo Salvator's mission is clear – to be the amplifier that brings the voices of talented African guitarists to a global audience. He invites all music enthusiasts to stay in the loop and tag along on this exciting musical odyssey. Through the "Guitar Tales" column hosted on Guitar.com, Deo shares the stories, views, and insights of diverse African guitarists. This column reflects the vibrant guitar culture that has blossomed across the African continent in recent years. By engaging with these stories, you not only embrace the rich heritage of African music but also become a part of a journey that unites cultures and celebrates the power of music to transcend boundaries.
As Deo Salvator aptly puts it, "So no, it's not enough to just play guitar – we also have to listen, learn, and contribute to the industry." Through his music, advocacy, and the Guitar Tales column, Deo continues to enrich the world with the beauty of African guitar culture, sharing life, nature, instruments, people, and all that music needs to exist and be enjoyed.
Join Deo Salvator on this remarkable musical voyage, and don't forget to follow Fingerpickers in Africa on Instagram @fingerpickersinafrica to stay connected with this vibrant community and its initiatives. Let the soulful melodies of Africa's guitar culture resonate in your heart.
About the Author
From dancer to guitarist and the author behind "Guitar Tales" on guitar.com, Salva (Deo Salvator) delves into the captivating stories of exceptional African guitarists, exploring their backgrounds, influences, and cultural contexts. With extensive event production, artist management, and a wealth of touring and recording experience, Salva is a dedicated advocate for fingerstyle guitar across Africa.Fresh from a successful European and UK tour, he's gearing up for concerts in 2024, all while preparing for his upcoming album that blends Inanga music with global guitar culture.
Discover more about Salva and his music journey at www.salva.africa