Born in Camagüey, Cuba, to Haitian parents, Mel Semé began his musical career in the Baptist church of his town hand in hand with his brothers and in the company of older musicians who performed a kind of Latin gospel influenced by the missionaries who came often to Cuba from the southern United States. He began composing at an early age and learning multiple instruments among which the guitar, piano, and drums stood out.
After graduating from the Havana University of Music and being part of the Havana Symphony Orchestra and the Camagüey Symphony Orchestra, he lived in Lichtenstein and Switzerland where he taught percussion and interpretation courses. He later toured with different musical projects such as Jane Bunnet, David Virelles, and Master Fatman throughout Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark. It was in Denmark where he lived for a time and extended his musical knowledge sharing the stage with musicians from the Scandinavian scene. He settled in Barcelona in 2003.
Mel Semé has shared the stage with Youssou Ndour, Steward Copeland, Kymani Marley, Giovanni Hidalgo, Nicholas Payton, Steve Coleman, Fito Paez, and Damien Rice, among others. He is the leader of the Black Gandhi group and participates in projects such as Man Ex Maqina, Barcelona Percussion Project, and Skyland. He is currently touring actively with his group Gone Gone Beyond and is a drummer for the Bardia Charaf Quartet.
Photo credit: Kersti-Niglas