The composer, guitarist and singer Erick Manana is a central figure of Madagascar’s music scene. For decades, he's been a star in his home country and popular worldwide in the Malagasy diaspora. An audience of several thousand, of all ages, enthusiastically sang his songs in May 2012 as he celebrated his 35th stage anniversary in Antananarivo. In January 2013, the audience of the legendary Olympia gave him and his fellow musicians in Paris a standing ovation. What is the secret of his music?

In his poetic lyrics, Erick Manana retains the old images and rich colours of the Malagasy language, but uses them to dedicate himself to current issues: the ingenuity, the ability to cope with suffering, the small victories and disappointments of the daily struggle. He sings of generational conflicts, the dreams and the homesickness of the emigrants. The war wounded, taxi drivers, and lovers are the heroes of his big poetry about small people.

Musically, Erick Manana draws on childhood influences and his youth in Antananarivo, experiences that never left him even when he moved to Europe: the soulful, melancholy Highland tunes from the streets and bars of the "Tana" of the past and the silvery delicate sound of the bamboo tube zither "valiha" that identified the Royal Court Orchestra in centuries gone by. The “hira gasy” inspired him, the still-vital, educational and circensic music theatre of rice farmers from the Malagasy highlands with its striking accordion, violin and brass band sounds combining with his incomparable vocal harmonies.

Erick Manana also adapts musical traditions from other areas of the island, such as the "basesa" of the East Coast. The diverse rhythms and melodies combine in the special musicality of the Malagasy language, shared by all the people of the island. His concerts are an invitation to a musical journey through the diversity of Malagasy musical traditions. On stages throughout Europe, especially in France, Erick Manana composes and sings for non-Malagasy audiences as well - his programmes show musical respect to other traditions, such as the French chanson and Manouche swing.

His latest musical project developed from his encounter with the German ethnomusicologist Jenny Fuhr. After years of research, many extensive travels to Madagascar, encounters and interviews on the island and in the European diaspora, she wrote a thesis on rhythm in the music of Madagascar and its importance for the cultural identity of the Malagasy people.

For Jenny Fuhr - a classically-trained violinist and flutist who has won the 1st prize in the national competition "Jugend Musiziert” twice - it was an unexpected challenge: to become involved in completely new ways of learning, without written music, without practicing in the familiar sense, favoring the moment of improvisation, and poring over many, many Malagasy lyrics to learn the language itself. In 2009, she shared the big stage with Erick Manana for the first time, in front of a Malagasy audience who celebrated her with her Renaissance recorder as a trusted musical heir of the late "sodina" flute Master Rakoto Frah. Since then, Jenny has held a firm place in Malagasy music.

The title track of the first “Erick Manana & Jenny” CD, published in 2013, is “Ny 2CV an-dRandria” - a song in which Erick Manana praises the witty and resourceful taxi drivers of Antananarivo, who in the decrepit, leaky tin boxes chauffeur their passengers – engines usually idling downhill - with humour, heart, and skill through the capital.