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Cameroonian Musician Brings Afropop and Afrobeat to D.C.

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Bass player Aristide Zogdoule is a mainstay on the D.C. music scene, and says being on stage is "my entire life."
Michael Shereikis
Bass player Aristide Zogdoule is a mainstay on the D.C. music scene, and says being on stage is "my entire life."

Aristide Zogdoule came to the U.S. after years of success playing music in locales as diverse as Belgium, Indonesia, and Singapore. And he expected that within a few years, he'd see his name in lights here in D.C.

"Unfortunately it didn't happen," he says. "But you know, I am still very happy with what I am doing."

What he's doing is juggling a job as a restaurant manager with a thriving career as a bass player for a number of bands here in Washington. He's established himself in the city's music scene, but says it's nearly impossible to make a living in music in the U.S. Still, he says the effort is worth it.

"I might be tired after working 9 or 10 hours, but as soon as I go on stage after those 10 hours I'm still going to give another 5 or 6, [and] those 6 hours are going to be the best of my life," he says.

Zogdoule learned bass from a Cameroonian friend who lives in Belgium, and the bass, he says, is critical to a band's success.

"People... most of the time they're going to be more attracted to something like the saxophone, the solo guitar, but [if] you don't have the bass and the drum, everything is completely empty," Zogdoule says.

He says performing music is his life.

"You know what my dream is? Die on stage," he says. "Not to be on the dark side, but the stage is my life. It's where my heart is beating. You forget everything that goes around you. People are there for you; you are there for them. You give them what they want; they give you that response. It just makes you feel alive."

[Music: "Tindehe" by Zieti on Zemelewa / "What a Wonderful World" by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra from A Very Ping Pong Christmas]

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