Ablawa Reine
Beninoise Songstress (Benin Republic)

Ablawa ReineSimply known as "Reine" by her friends, Ablawa Reine likes to say “my career is still blossoming,” but behind that modesty is an elegance as well as poise that is simply regal. She has a fascination with singing and dance and dabbles often into acting and modeling, but Reine says she derives her most kicks seated with notable traditional custodians in the villages around her hometown Ouida, about two hours’ drive from Cotonou. “I like all kinds of music,” she says, “ but the traditional songs touch my innermost soul as no other genre does.” The rituals, the ceremonials, the call and responsorials are among her staples. And she is quick to recount numerous childhood stories told by her grandmother and other elders in the family. “Much of my songs were learned in those formative years.” And she still sings them today. Reine came into notice as assisting director of the Choeur Enfants Du Benin (Children's Choir of Benin). Her expert rapport with children and adult alike elicit both love and discipline, but it was her role as lead soloist and dexterity with stylistic nuances and breath of knowledge of Africa’s numerous song traditions that immediately endeared her to African Chorus directors, who for long scouted for African female instructors.  Reine’s residency with the African Choral Music Workshops began in 2006 in Ghana and has continued since then in the United States. In addition to her duties as dance/choral instructor she serves as Cultural Exchange Consultant & Artistic Liaison at the St. Louis African Chorus. She is available by email to reine @ africanchorus dot org