In a world where teenagers in West Africa and Eastern Europe can share videos and mp3s on youtube, a Sri Lankan urbanite is transformed by hip-hop and an American deejay re-mixes sounds out of a Brazilian favela, it is undeniable that the completely interconnected global village has arrived. As a result, a new wave of artists from around the world, conversant with and connected to ancient traditions as well as the latest technology, has emerged. Artists such as M.I.A., Zap Mama, Manu Chao, Michael Franti, Nneka, Gogol Bordello, Rachid Taha and many others mix and match musical elements and cultural experiences, often with hip-hop the lingua franca. Very often the mix is rooted in the multiple strands of the African diaspora.
One of the leaders of this trend has been Les Nubians, who managed the difficult trick of scoring an urban radio hit with French language neo-soul–the first time that had ever been done. Suddenly Les Nubians, consisting of two bi-cultural sisters from France, Hélène and Célia Faussart–were being hailed as one of the most appealing and innovative artists on the urban music scene world-wide. There followed a near gold-selling album, collaborations with the likes of Talib Kweli and the Red, Hot and Riot collective, and Grammy nominations. Then suddenly they seemed to disappear but all along they were busy refining their craft.
Now Les Nubians return with Nü Revolution, their highly-anticipated third album to be released on April 19, 2011 by Shanachie Entertainment. It fully delivers on the promise of their breakthrough efforts with a relentlessly enchanting and energized mix of R & B, hip-hop, African music and other world elements.
The women of Les Nubians were shaped by many influences. Les Nubians has its genesis in a small town in the South West region of France where the Paris-born sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart lived as teenagers after returning from several years’ residence with their parents in the African country of Chad. With a French father and a Cameroonian mother, Hélène and Célia experienced cultural dissonance in the rural Bordeaux region. After their father’s death, Célia joined her sister in Bordeaux and they helped found a cultural collective, Les Nouveaux Griots, a “griot” being a traditional African storyteller and historian, all with the goal of increasing awareness of African and Urban cultures. A chance meeting with jazz legend Abbey Lincoln, who encouraged the sisters to sing, led to the formation of Les Nubians. In the beginning they sang acapella due to their difficulty finding musicians who would back them. Their unique sound led to a recording deal with Virgin Records and in 1998 their debut album, Princesses Nubiennes was released in Europe, where initially it enjoyed only modest sales. But the albums innovative mix of hip hop, neo soul and African music found an audience in America and “Makeda” the first single from Princesses Nubiennes became an urban radio hit. The video for “Makeda” garnered heavy rotation on BET and VH-1 Soul while a DJ Spinna re-mix generated strong club play. Characterized by a marriage between Sade and Erykah Badu, “Makeda” was the right sound at the right time. Massive media attention, successful tours and a Grammy nomination followed as well as nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and two Soul Train Lady Of Soul Awards; one of which Les Nubians took home as 1999’s winner for Best New Artist Group or Duo.
“Africa is our past, present and future,” Les Nubians asserts. This song is about accepting and rejoicing through our body and mind that Africa is vibrant and 10,000,000 times ALIVE! Africa FOR the future also to say that we have to prepare the future of the continent. It’s in the NOW that we create the future. ACTION time is NOW!!!”
NÜ REVOLUTION CD FEATURES SPECIAL GUESTS MANU DIBANGO, ERIC ROBERSON, BLITZ THE AMBASSADOR, FRESHLY GROUND, JOHN BANZAÏ
“Nü Revolution: Nü for New Universe, this new world as World Citizens that we are. In Revolution, in motion. In the word Revolution, there is Rêve which in French means Dreams. The Evolution of the Dream, of our Dream for a better world, a better Self. In Evolution, there’s the evolution through Eve, the woman. We were princesses becoming Queens with Grace, Strength, Responsibilities, Unconditional Love and Care for our Community: The World, The Universe. Full Circle” –Les Nubians