Guillaume was born and raised in Cameroon. As a toddler in the 60s he was fascinated by the music coming out of the home radio box. He recalls carving a hole into a cardboard box, sticking his head through it to sing, as a simulation of the radio. His passion for the guitar was awaken at age 6 or 7, in an enchanting summer evening in a small village - “ Ndo'o II “ near the township of Mbanga - while visiting with “ Ma’ " Ndong his beloved Aunt (Dad’s only surviving sibling). The whole neighborhood was gathering around wood fire to enjoy a beautiful breezy tropical night. Then one of his uncle brought out one of his self-made guitars; the sound and songs were pure magic to Guillaume’s ears and soul. The next morning he got a hold of the guitar while his uncle was out farming. But what a disappointment, no matter how hard he tried he could not make it render anything that would be pleasing to his ears.
A few years later at age 13 in the dorms of “College Libermann” – the prestigious Jesuit secondary school in Douala - he got his first guitar lessons from a gifted schoolmate. Soon after his older cousin Eugene – whose mastery of the guitar was just “scary” - moved into town. Guillaume would follow him everywhere, learning all the secrets of the trade as fast as he could. Guillaume was soon making beautiful noises of his own, playing makossa, rock and roll and bluesy covers. By his junior year he was a widely recognized lead guitarist on the high school scene, “Guibary Solo” was on his way. However Dad would not approve of him neglecting his studies for music and/or soccer, since he was a highly gifted student also, one of those brainy “Libermanniens”.
The “Baccalaureat Serie C” was followed by a move to the University in Yaoundé to study Mathematics. He kept a low music performance profile but he was soon called into action when Ashanti Tokoto a Cameroonian pop star of the late 70s and the 80s came to perform on campus. Guillaume’s unique melodic and soloing styles were in demand. The youngest on stage – often teased by Ashanti – he earned the loudest of applauses. The untimely death of his beloved Dad in 1981, just days before his graduation led him to immigrate to Ivory Coast to take a much needed teaching job. He would then only play the guitar to cope with his loss and despair, but the music kept growing in his soul. Ivory Coast was very good to him in many other ways, allowing him to help provide for his Mom and his 11 younger siblings and also to earn a “Doctorat de 3eme cycle” in Mathematics and be offered a Teaching Assistantship to Rutgers in NJ, USA.
There, while completing his Ph.D. in Mathematics, he became the summer highlight with his band – 3 years in a row - performing African rooted music for the International Center. He got the opportunity to work with recognized talent such as Sipho Kunene, a celebrated New York based South African drummer – who has been featured several times with Hugh Masekela. In 1995, as a fresh Ph.D. he took a 3 year position in the Math Dept at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He left academia for the software Industry in 1998, finally settling at Microsoft in Redmond, after 5 years and several companies in the California bay area. The Seattle scene has helped revive Guillaume’s music and the idea of recording his first album grew out of a successful summer tour in 2004 - to BC in Canada, through Lake Chelan WA, then Portland OR and back to Seattle - as a guest guitarist with the band Maya Soleil. The defining melody for the tune "Bc Ferry" was actually born on a Ferry ride during the tour. He is now a regular with his own band Sol Afrique of the Sunday African music series at Hidmo Eritrean restaurant in Seattle. Now below he writes to you in his own words.
Dear listener I hope that you would be moved to whistle, dance and jump to the beats, and melodies in this album – it is a labor of love. I am indebted to the world class musicians who have contributed their talent here: Fred Doumbe (New York based bass player and composer), Hans Teuber (Seattle based Jazz composer and multi talented flute/sax/piano player), Sipho Kunene (already introduced to you), Josman Mbella (LA based drummer, percussionist and composer), the Seattle based guitarists Dean Norling, Leif Totusek and Jon Kertzer (also multimedia manager at Microsoft and DJ at KEXP world radio station in Seattle), Joe Hadlock (organist/pianist, recording engineer and owner of the famous Bear Creek Studio), Ricardo Guity (Seattle based percussionist and congas master), Jay Roulston (Seattle based trumpetist and composer), Steve Moore (Seattle based trombonist and organ/piano player) and Saeed Abbas (master drummer, percussionist & composer who resides in Whidbey Island, WA). My son Cyril Mpacko is featured, telling us about a "Rumble in the Jungle" intriguing story.
Love and Peace.