Hermas Zopoula is many things. He is the youngest of 36 children. Born in a small village named Yoro, he is Burkinabe, a citizen and resident of Burkina Faso, West Africa. He is a moped enthusiast, orphanage volunteer, and internet cafe proprietor. Hermas is also a psalmist, and Espoir is his first international recording.
Hermas sings in four different languages on the album: French, English, Dioula, and Sissali (Hermas’ mother tongue). The only way to introduce Hermas’ sound was to release Espoir as a two disc set. The first disc, recorded in a government studio in Burkina Faso, presents a refined and practiced Hermas. But the Hermas on the second disc is the one most Burkinabes know, just him and his guitar in his backyard.
Hermas is a big fan of Malian singer Salif Keita. He also connects with reggae music, especially the musicians who see music as a way of bringing about justice and peace. Bob Marley is an immediate inspiration, but like many Burkinabes, Hermas has a deep love for Lucky Dube, who used his music to expose government corruption in the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo. Comparisons to singer/song-writer Seu Jorge are inevitable, but listeners will find Hermas’ voice sweeter and warmer. Other audible influences in Hermas’ music are Afro-pop pioneer Thomas Mapfumo, King Sunny Ade, and Toumani Diabateï’s Symmetric Orchestra.
Hermas is currently employed as a translator by Air Burkina at the international airport in Ouagadougou. When Jonathan Dueck, the album’s cover artist and Hermas’ friend, last left Ouagadougou, Hermas waved good-bye to him right from the tarmac.