October 1, 2022

Tribute to Paps Touray

 Gambian musician, singer, composer, musicologist

Inventor of the Afro Mandingo Sounds of Gambia

By OKO DRAMMEH

One of the most recognizable Gambian vocalists to come out of Banjul was Paps Touray. Like high premium chocolate, Paps Touray has a voice that is smooth, rich and velvety. Pap’s vocals promote innovation, inspiration, sensuality, and he convincingly belts out with the prowess necessary to render social change, equality and Gambian consciousness.

Affectionately known as the “Abess,” Paps has been famously known to cater to Children by staging Schools concerts and handing out gifts, and hugs to the children.

Mandingo Beat is the last recording of Paps, a polished and moving creation of the Soto Koto Band and Paps Tourney, the leading lyricist, composer and singer in the album produced by Gambian Music producer Oko Drammeh. He played Gumbay music or music from West Africa. The music is hot and rhythmic, featuring a strong West African-Cuban sound. Touray’s voice was rich and mellow. His lyrics delicately probe a common human thread of love and respect. This is African jazz played at its best on synthesizers, guitar, African percussion and a small orchestra of brass.

But as unforgettable his voice and performance, his most remarkable gift was an incredible capacity to persevere – a refusal to quit no matter how dire the hardship. It was only his untimely death that stopped his string of unrelenting triumphs over personal demons and misfortune that would have broken a lesser man.

His life and the lessons it provided will stand for as long as his voice replays. Hopefully the Paps story will be retold as more than a singer with amazing talent and charisma. Paps discovered that the difficult lessons are the toughest to swallow, but learned well they are also the ones that get you through the toughest times, making life a genuine gift.

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