Zaïre Belage, better known as Zaza by his friends, is passionate about music.
It all started for him when at the age of 11, in 1974, when he began to learn the guitar under the enlightened guidance of his brother. From 1978 to 1984, he perfected his technique while playing with family members and several groups of friends. He then experimented with styles such as Rock and World Music, among many others. In 1985, Zaïre moved into the professional world, playing with the group called AFOUS until 1987. They recorded their album “Oh! Les Beurs” and performed as first feature of Cheb Khaled’s show at the Eldorado theater in Paris.
Zaïre then became part of the SALAMALEK group, whose style can be labeled as Afro Junk Funk, and participated in numerous concerts and events, such as “SOS ça bouge” and on many stages in the area close to his home, and in the cities of Bobigny, Drancy, Blanc-Mesnil, near Paris.
In his ceaseless quest for new skills, he came to spend one year in Denver, CO, where he played with diverse Heavy Metal bands.
Back in France, he toured with FUNKADELIK, ending with the concert TRANSEXPRESS 91 in Bobigny. From 1991 to 1993, Zaïre joined the French Rock group NYCTALOPE, which offers a repertoire of songs with strong poetic and social contents.
After learning so many different styles, he decided to learn percussions with Ali Fares in order to add to his musical talents a rhythmic dimension. After two years of courses between 1993 and 1995, Zaïre completed his musical education with a year in Burkina Faso where he was in daily contact with local musicians and percussionists. The African influence is plainly discernable in some of his compositions.
He took the same approach with the other main source of his musical inspiration, the USA, where he visited several times again, in 1997, 1999 and 2000, and worked in pubs and restaurants, especially in Dallas and Taylor, TX.
In 2003, Zaïre was back on stage at the cultural center of Blanc-Mesnil, where he played with bands featuring many styles, such as Rock, Pop, Soul, or acoustic. His contribution to these groups was an emotional component based on his talent on the acoustic guitar.
In 2004, he opened Tony Allen’s show in Bobigny, and went on to play in cafés-concerts with the Afro-Cuban group ESTOVAL COMPAGNIE. In 2005, he performed on Beur TV in a show dedicated to Richard King. That year also, Zaïre worked in the Singe Bleu recording studio in Paris composing songs for the Raga-Reggae artist Papy-Ninj’as and accompanying him in the music video promoting his CD. Finally, in June 2005, he participated in the composition of the sound-track of “Allez, yallah”, a movie featuring the actress, singer and dancer Sapho.
To sum up the main qualities of this artist, one can say that behind the apparent facility of his performance on guitar and percussions, Zaïre went to the trouble of studying on site the influences that give him his characteristic style.
These experiences have also enriched him as a person, who is fond to share them with other people with a simplicity and warmth that make him particularly engaging.