If the voice is an instrument, afro-pop group H'Sao is a symphony orchestra. The infectious vocals of the six-strong a cappella maestros tell stories of their lives in beautiful harmony - and they're playing in Nelson next week.
H'Sao are two families melded into one. Born and raised in Chad, Israel Rimtobaye and his two brothers, Caleb and Mossbass and sister Taroum, first started performing in the church where their father was a pastor in the early 1990s. Their father dubbed them Hirondelle, ["swallow"] in honour of the birds always searching for higher ground. In 1995 brothers Charles and Service Ledjebgue joined the band and it became H'Sao, pronounced "hash-ah-o": H for Hirondelle and Sao in honour of their Chadian ancestors.
When they first formed, H'Sao had only basic instruments, which forced them to develop their vocal skills in their native language, French and English.
Speaking from Vancouver, during a tour around North America, Israel says they draw influence from gospel, traditional African music, soul, jazz, and R&B. They blend these elements with dance and African rhythms that are as intuitive as breathing.