Anselmo Joao Johanhane (Neco) born and raised in Maputo-Mozambique as part of a musical family where father Joao Jotamo Johanhane would sing, play guitar and electric organ and their mother Gertrudes Sofia Vilanculos would sing in the traditional ceremonies and in the choir of the local Catholic Church. Neco and his brothers and sisters got in touch with traditional music and dance from their very early age as well as with broadcasts of folk, jazz, pop and world music through the National Radio in their country.
Later on they got in touch not only with music from other African tribes but also with western music as a result of their music activities in and for the Catholic Church, where they learned and played during the ceremonies.
All the influences lead to a style the brothers describe as ”NOVELLAS MUSIC FOR THE WORLD" where rhythms, melodies and harmonies you hear are related to jazz, classical, authentic music and multi styled compositions. Add to this Neco’s deep ranged silky voice and you get a musical style that rises above the description of world music.
Neco explains: “Universal music sounds better to describe our music. It appeals to the heart and can be understood by the heart in any language. My lyrics are mostly stories about experiences connected to daily life, nature, rituals, family and friends.” The languages Neco Novellas sings in is a mix of local Mozambican Idiomatic languages, South African languages and Portuguese as well as English. “Sharing stories through music is what I aim to do. I want to share my experiences with the audience and make them part of it.”
After a successful beginning in Mozambique, where Neco is a celebrity in his own right, he got a grant to study classical music vocal and guitar at the Academia de Musica Eborense and later at Universidade de Musica de Evora in Portugal.
Although Neco’s heart was already with improvisational music and singing, he studied classical music in Portugal there during five years. Eager to learn and experience, he immersed himself in the studies. It turned out that the classical music became an important asset to his musical development "…. Neco is not far from bringing out his own classical or Jazz repertoire".
In the mean time, Neco’s brothers Nelson Novela (www.myspace.com/Nelsonnovela) and Isildo Novela (www.myspace.com/Isildonovela) played with a number of top musicians like Gito Baloi and Wanda Baloi in South Africa.
Neco’s sisters Cidalia Novela and Isabel Novela live in Mozambique where they perform solo and do backing vocals for national and international artists. Their most recent collaboration is doing the backing vocals for a concert of Brazilian star musician Gilberto Gil.
In 2002 Neco visited a number of countries in Europe. Holland attracted him the most at that time so he decided to pursue his studies at the Codarts "Rotterdam Conservatory of Music".
In Holland Neco's versatility came to the fore and after having introduced his music and compositions to the local musicians and students from Codarts, he was asked to write the film score for a Dutch short film "De Grijns" (in English "The Grin"), shown at the International film festival in Rotterdam in 2006. To add to this versatility Neco also directed a group of strings, horns and percussionists.
Occasionally the brothers and sisters joined him in Holland to perform at: Oerol Festival at Terschelling, Music Meeting in Nijmegen, Dunya Festival, Theater Lantaren-Vestern (Jazz-x-tension), Radio Rijmond in Rotterdam, Paradiso, Vondel Park-Amsterdam, Radio Free Amsterdam, at the Mozambican Embassy in Brussels for the President of Mozambique on his first visit to the Benelux countries.
Neco pursued his studies, leading workshops, performing solo, playing drums and classical repertoire. His ultimate wish however was to at last reunite with his brothers and sisters. This wish was fulfilled when in the winter of 2004 Neco got sponsored to start recording the first tracks of the recent cd Mita Famba in Johannesburg, South Africa, joined by his two brothers and two sisters as well as by South African musicians.
Late in 2005 the two brothers got accepted at Codarts "Rotterdam Conservatory of Music" where Neco had already been studying.
Their move to Rotterdam made Holland a temporary home base for their music and the band. The sisters came for a second visit to the Netherlands in 2006 for the official recordings of their first cd.
New Album New Dawn - Ku Khata
Recently, Neco has signed with World Connection and he is now working on his second album named New Dawn - Ku Khata. What to expect? A warm, African, jazzy, rhythmical trip with the entire Novella family on board!
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