A few years before Upper Volta changed its name to Burkina Faso, thanks to Thomas Sankara's dream of a new society, Voltaic music emerged as some kind of true cultural revolution in the wake of the country's independence in 1960. Popular music that sprung up from Burkina Faso owed much to the music from neighboring countries and to the longing for "cultural authenticity" conveyed through Guinean music. The first two decades of independence saw the upcoming of such orchestras and artists, such as Pierre Sandwidi. Nicknamed "the troubadour from the bush," Sandwidi stands as one of the finest Voltaic artists from the 1970s.
He belonged to an unsung elite of Francophone artists such as Francis Bebey, G.G. Vickey, André-Marie Tala, and Mamo Lagbema. His entire released output consists of less than ten 7"s, two LPs, and a bunch of cassettes. Along with his friends Jean-Bernard Samboué, Abdoulaye Cissé, Oger Kaboré, Joseph Salambéré, and Richard Seydou Traoré, he was part of the "vedettes en herbe" movement. Their songs were played on the national radio before being released as a single, recorded live in the studio. In 1970, Sandwidi traveled across the country, working for the state. He met Bobo-Dioulasso cultural entrepreneur and Volta Jazz boss Idrissa Koné, who offered him to record a few songs for his own imprint, Disques Paysans Noirs. Sandwidi delivered "Lucie," a romantic song in the classic mandingo vein. In 1975, Pierre recorded two more singles at the Maison du Peuple. Using an Akai recorder as a soundboard, he was backed by Super Volta's mighty guitar player Désiré Traoré. In 1976, he recorded three more 45s with L'Harmonie Voltaïque as a backing band.
In 1979, while in Abidjan, Sandwidi recorded his first full length LP with the help of Voltaic Prince Edouard Ouedraogo. He launched his own "callao" dance, as a homage to this Sahelian bird that bounces instead of walking. Confronted with many temptations, Sandwidi sang about his will to stay true to his values, being first and foremost an African. A true callao song, "Mariétou" sounds like genuine French Sahelian pop. After Sankara's fall in 1987, Sandwidi distanced himself from politics, focusing on writing new songs and plays. Twenty years after he died, this compilation stands as a vibrant tribute to one of West Africa's most outstanding and adamant artists.