Throwback Sunday: The French Invasion

Shalom family, a few years ago I inadvertently took a hop skip and a jump across the Atlantic to the city of lights. Yes I do mean Paris. Figuratively of course, and it has astounded me just how far the influence of black music has reached.

So today on this here Throwback Sunday, I present to you  little tableau of French artists in what I’d like to call, The French Invasion. But before I do, I will give a little insight about who I’m presenting today. First up is Amel Bent, born Amel Bentbachir is a French RnB singer of North African descent, born to a Moroccan Mother and an Algerian father in the French commune of La Courneuve. She rose to prominence on the French music scene after making it to the semi-finals of the reality tv show Nouvelle Star which is the French version of American Idol. Although she didn’t advance to the finals, she was still noticed by some of the show’s producers and would go on to release her debut album titled Un Jour D’été (which translates as “A summer day”) in late 2004. The album would sell  more than 550,000 copies alone in France but the success of the album ultimately was derived from the popularity of her debut single Ma Philosophie, which would sell at more than 500,000 copies staying at the number 1 slot in the French charts for six weeks during and after sales.

Amel Bent has the ability to sing in the whistle register.

Next up, born the youngest of 8 children, Nadiya Zighem is a renown French RnB singer whose family origins go back to the
the region of Mostaganem, in the north of Algeria. As a youth, she displayed a talent for athletics, and gravitated mainly  towards studies in sports. In 1989, she won the title of Junior Champion of France’s 800 meters. Her older brother, Kader Zighem is world champion of French boxing.

She performed a duo with Stomy Bugsy in 2001 under the title “Aucun Dieu ne pourra me pardonner” (No God Will Ever Forgive Me). The single “J’ai confiance en toi” (I Trust You), released in February 2001, became the first single that charted in the French Singles Chart, peaked at #38 in France and stayed in the chart for 13 weeks. The second single slated from the album did perform better than the first one. “Chaque fois” (Every Time) was released in August 2001 and peaked at #27 in the French Top 100 Singles, remaining in the chart for 18 weeks, five more than the first single. After the success of both singles, Nâdiya recorded a full studio album that became “Changer les choses” (Changing the Things). Though the singles became reasonable hits, the album wasn’t very popular in France, not charting at all in the French Top 200 Albums. She was nominated for the Victoires de la musique in 2002.

You can google her and read more in-depth.

So moving on, the next songstress I present to you is none other than my favourite French Artist of all time Laam.
Laam whose real name is Lamiah is a French artist of Tunisian descent. Laam lived a difficult childhood stemming from family problems at home. At a very young age she developed a passion for music. Laam’s journey to stardom began after a producer commented on her singing style and expressed how much he loved the way she interpreted songs. Her career finally kick-started upon the release of her debut single “Chanter pour ceux qui sont loin de chez eux” (singing for those who are far from their homes) which was a reprise of Legendary French Singer Michel Berger’s song. The new version became an instant hit with the French public, selling more than 960,000 copies  which in turn earned a gold disc certification. From that success, Lââm released her first album Persévérance which contained additional reprises of Michel Berger’s songs, as well as singles like “Jamais loin de toi” (never far from you), “Assez” (enough) “Les enfants de l’an 2000” (the children of the year 2000) or the encore “Face à Face” (Face to Face). Some of these singles were modified and quickly became hits.

Google her if you wanna know more…..

Up next is a French RnB Duo, Native composed of sisters Laura and Chris Mayne. The sisters rose to prominence after releasing their hit song Si la vie demande ca (if life asks for it) and in 1994 won a victoires de la musique award for most promising group.

Shy’m, born Tamara Marthe originates from the western Parisian suburb of Trappes, France. She is the daughter of a French Metropolitan mother and French Caribbean Father from Martinique. Growing up, her family wad heavily oriented toward music and the creative arts.
Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beyoncé, she nevertheless grew up to the sound of zouk—a French Caribbean music genre—and R&B. From an early age, she became interested in dancing and singing. She started taking lessons in dancing and she earned the nickname “Spicy Tam” as a result of the effort she put in it.

In academics, she obtained a baccalaureat at the age of seventeen. Along with her studies, she had been making demo recordings of herself while avoiding public scrutiny. Later, she went to Paris, where she sent the recordings to record companies. It was at this time that Lebanese-Canadian rapper K.Maro discovered her. Marthe acquired the stage name Shy’m and began her journey to stardom. Her pseudonym is a portmanteau, derived from “shy” and “Martinique” She says she is shy, but much less so than before when the mere idea of being on stage paralysed her with fright. But her passion has allowed her to overcome her shyness and she now takes “pleasure in putting herself in the crowd”

Last but certainly not least, Les Nubians. Grammy award winning duo of Chadian descent, Les Nubians are amoung the most successful French language music groups in the USA best known for their Billboard RnB single Makeda.
In 1985, sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart emigrated to their ancestral home, the African nation of Chad with their parents. Upon their return to France 7 years later, the two began their journey to music stardom. They started out by singing acapella, producing poetry slams in Bordeaux and Paris as well as singing background for various artists worldwide. In 1999 the duo were the recipients of the Soul Train’s Lady of Soul Award for Best New Artist and in 2000, received two NAACP image award nominations.

So I suppose that concludes the introductions. Without further adieu, Please enjoy this medley of French songs. Beneath each video will include a translation so you can understand what they are saying, for those of you who do not quite understand French.

I have but one philosophy
Being accepted the way I am
In spite of all they tell me
I keep on raising my fist
For better or for worse
I am a mixed-race woman but not a martyr
I move forwards with a light heart
And always raising my fist

Lifting my head, sticking out my chest* –
Always redoubling my efforts
Life doesn’t give a choice about that
I am the ace that beats the king
Despite our heartaches, our differences
And all those ceaseless insults
I will raise my fist
Even higher, even farther

(chorus)
I’m not afraid
Of reaching for the moon
Even with the time
I still believe in it wholeheartedly
If I have to, I will make
Sacrifices
I have already done several
And this, always raising my fist

I am not like all those girls
That they ogle at and undress with their eyes
I have a shapely figure and curves –
They are here to warm people’s hearts
As a girl from a poor district
I’ve learnt to be proud
Much more love than misery
Much more heart than wars

I have but one philosophy
Being accepted the way I am
With strength and smile
And raising my fist toward the future
Lifting my head, sticking out my chest –
Always redoubling my efforts
Life doesn’t give a choice about that
I am the ace that beats the king

A story that falls through
Some words on your piano
It’s over
It’s a whole life
That clouds over

I saw it in your look
I felt your despair
What does it get
To pretend
To believe in it ?

Don’t hold back your tears
Let your sorrow go
It’s the start of a new chapter
And you can do nothing to change it
Don’t hold back your tears
Crying does you good
And if you feel grief
You know I love you
I’ll never be far

You cling to your past
As if everything was motionless
Today
We have to help each other
And forget
The pain that comes little by little
This absence that hurts so much
Don’t be scared
Listen to your heart

Don’t hold back your tears
Let your sorrow go
It’s the start of a new chapter
And you can do nothing to change it
Don’t hold back your tears
Crying does you good
And if you feel grief
You know I love you
I’ll never be far

Don’t hold back your tears
Let your sorrow go
And if you feel grief
Remember I love you
I’ll always be around

Tell me about your strifes
Tell me about your [trampled] rights
Tell me about that father
Who beats you all the time
Tell me about your fears
Tell me, I believe you
Tell me about your heart
Dying in combat

Huddling silently
Along the corridor
Where light
Goes out and astray

You snuggle
Lost in the dark
Beseeching the man
Who’s glowering at you

Tell me about your rainy days
Tell me about your daily life
Tell me about those thousands of cries
Haunting your body and bruising you
Tell me, little by little
Tell me, as you long as it’s possible
Tell me just a moment, oh please
Tell me, tell me, tell me

(chorus)

Because today, at the back of your room
You make your bed with your trembling hands
Just think – tomorrow, when you’re an adult
Everything can suddenly change and surprise you

You can’t stay here on your own
You must leave this life
You can’t shut yourself in oblivion
If you don’t want to have to beg anyone anymore

Strange existence
Whatever he thinks
In our hearts
The same fears flow
Our dresses of dolls
All our secrets
Forgotten
something changed

Nothing is like before anymore
Everything is different
Little by little the time separates us
And flies and flies
For one day to change the history
One day friends, the other enemies

[Refrain :]
To be friends enemies
To the flux of the melody
To be friends enemies
The times divides us
Chopin play the song
So we can play the game

To be friends enemies
To the flux of the melody
To be friends enemies
He loves and he curses
Chopin play the song
So we can play the game

The same innocence
The same childhood
Everything seemed
To unite us forever
But twenty years later
Everything separates us
Our heart
It changed glance

Nothing remains anymore
Neither one air of (Chopin)*
Little by little
The time separates us
And flies and flies
One day friends, the other enemies

[Refrain :]
To be friends enemies
To the flux of the melody
To be friends enemies
The times divides us
Chopin play the song
So we can play the game

The time separates us
And flies and flies
For one day to change the history
Everthing (lait)** us
Now everything separates us

I want to sing for those
Who are far from home
And who have in their eyes
Something that hurts that hurts

I want to sing for those (I wanna sing for Those)
lest we forget bit by bit (That we forget about little)
and who keeps deep inside them (That keep inside)
Something that hurts that hurts

He spends all the night
looking at the stars
wondering if there’s someone on the other side of the world thinking about him
And this little girl playing
Who never wants to smile
And who sees her father leaving to go build an empire

Wherever they go (wherever they go they are sad)
They are sad at the party
Wherever they go (wherever they go they are alone)
They are alone in their minds

I want to sing for those (sing for those below)
That are away from home (and who have in their eyes)
And who have in their eyes (something, something)
Something that hurts that hurts

I want to sing for those (sing for those we forget)
lest we forget bit by bit (and keep them at the bottom)
And keep them at the bottom of (something something)
Something that hurts that hurts

I have a dream
Have a dream together
Because dream
It Will Happen …
Have a dream
my sister and father (ooh! OOH!)

who has stolen their history
who has stolen therir memories
who has reduced their lives to being a walk upon a mirror
He wants the times
He wants the days
By aligning batons like the bars of jail

Wherever they go (o they go they are sad)
They are sad at the party
wherever they go (wherever they go they are alone)
They are alone in their heads

I want to sing for those (Singing for those below)
That are away from home (and who in their eyes)
And who in their eyes (Something something)
Something that hurts that hurts

I want to sing for those (sing for those we forget)
We forget little bit (and keep them at the bottom)
And keep them at the bottom of (something something)
Something that hurts that hurts

I have a DreamIT Will Happen together
Cause dream
It’s good to be lived
A dream
For my sister and father (I want to sing sing)
Have just a dream (Ooo!)

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12 thoughts on “Throwback Sunday: The French Invasion

  1. Yanni Stalworth

    Wow, these songs are incredible. Really good stuff. This Laam, she intrigues me, I must learn more about her. I used to ace French back in High School, it’s been long since I’ve spoken it. Thanks for reigniting my passion

    Like

    Reply
      1. Truthangel07

        The one I’m currently working on is the sequel to my novel, Butterflies in Bronzeville, currently on Amazon. I’d love to write some upcoming novels in France. It’s always been a great place for artists (ah-lah…Josephine Baker, jazz artists, painters, etc.). And there is a lot of African American history there. I talked about it briefly in Butterflies in Bronzeville.

        Like

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