LES NUBIANS’ AFROPEAN REVOLUTION: THE SOUND OF A MULTICULTURAL NEW WORLD
Les Nubians is an Afropean, Urban, R&B Grammy-nominated duo composed of sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart from Paris France. In 1985 the sisters moved with their parents to Chad, Africa. Seven years later, they returned to Bordeaux, France and began singing A Cappella, producing poetry slams in Bordeaux and Paris, and singing background vocals for various artists worldwide. To critical acclaim, the duo's debut album Princesses Nubiennes was released by Virgin Records, France, in 1998.
They have become one of the most successful French-language musical groups in the U.S., best known for their Billboard R&B Single "Makeda" from their Grammy nominated album Princesses Nubiennes. Les Nubians were the 1999 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards winners for Best New Artist, Group or Duo and received two NAACP Image Awards nominations in 2000.
To date, Les Nubians have made their home base Brooklyn, New York. They continue to tour the U.S. and around the world performing at Festivals, art centers, theaters and clubs.
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.
In 2003, Les Nubians released their second album One Step Forward a conscious evolution of their style. They sang more in English on this album, largely as a result of their American experiences, which made them far more fluent in English.” Restlessly creative, the sisters graced 2005 not with a new Les Nubians album but with a spoken word project that brought together talented spoken word artists under Les Nubians’ umbrella. By now Les Nubians was in demand around the world as a performing act, which they felt fostered both personal and artistic growth–the fruit of which is revealed on Nü Revolution. Their Pan-African vision remains as vibrant and clear as ever, as expressed on “Africa For The Future” from the new album.
“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!!!”
Colors of world culture on the canvas of African rhythms..
Sahel's multilingual lead vocalists and creator, Jean-Francis Varre, firmly believes that the African Diaspora is closely linked through its shared rhythms and melodic styles. In addition, because this heritage is commonly tied to the English, Spanish, French and Portuguese languages, he uses the music of the African Diaspora to form cultural bridges around the world. A self taught multi instrumentalist, Jean-Francis has toured with British soul icon Omar and Grammy nominated salsa orchestra Gonzalo Grau y la Clave Secreta and a variety of projects in the US, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
Jean-Francis is joined by drummer Malick 'Papa' Diouf, bassist Stewart Bernard, vocalist (and sister) Aline Varre, percussionists Malari Moore and Jabari Exum, and guitarist Dokun Oke to form a multicultural musical team worthy of the name Sahel. The unit has built a reputation of keeping audiences dancing while seamlessly varying styles and jumping from one culture to the next.
Sahel, like the legendary land that is its namesake, is a crossroad of musical genres influenced by African culture around the globe; inspired by tradition and dedicated to the progress of music that moves the world.