In such a diverse industry, African Francophone singers continue to defy all odds and prove that their authentic sound is worth being listened to.
Their songs continue to express themes of love, hope, culture, human rights, and liberation, but in the journey to staying relevant in the industry, how has their sound impacted the industry in general?
Who are the Francophone singers?
In the general sense of the word, Francophone singers are those singers that perform mostly using the French language. Some of the most popular Francophone singers of all time are Edith Piaf, Jacques Dutronc, Aya Nakamura, Christophe Miossec, Cali, Nicolas Reyes, Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand, and a host of others. Edith Piaf in particular is one of the most successful Francophone singers who have attained international success in her music career. Edith Piaf, who was also called ‘The little sparrow’, was one of the most popular France performers who took the Francophone genre to the next level.
These singers are concentrated in countries like France, Canada, and Switzerland. Nevertheless, there’s another section of the francophone music industry that includes talented Francophone music artists who can be found in African French-speaking countries.
Francophone singers in Africa
The Francophone music industry is filled with a variety of African singers. Black Francophone singers have continued to set the pace in the music industry. African Francophone singers are typically from Francophone African countries such as Congo, Benin, Senegal, Gabon, Rwanda, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Burundi, and a host of others. How are the singers in these countries influencing the music industry?
Aya was born on the 10th of May 1995. The French-Malian singer was born in Bamako in Mali. This beautiful black Francophone artist has created songs that regularly top the French music charts. Aya is a musical genius who has been known to fuse genres such as pop and R&B to create beautiful and unique sounds. Her intriguing ancestry (Coming from a family of poets and storytellers) has influenced her music style which has, in turn, influenced the music industry positively. Since the onset of her music career, Aya has been consistently giving us international hits like ‘Djadja’ as she continues to thrive in the industry. Her successful albums are enough proof that Francophone singers can do just as well as other contemporaries in the global music industry.
No one does Afro-Trap quite like Mohammed Sylla AKA MHD does, after all, he happens to be the one who coined the term. MHD, who hails from Paris (with Guinea and Senegal), has been able to brilliantly blend Afro sounds which are predominant in West Africa together with Trap music to create a unique sound. MHD has won several awards He was even nominated for the prestigious BET Best New International Act Award. His collaboration with Nigerian artists like Adekunle Gold and Naira Marley has opened up doors for him to break through and gain increased traction in the West African music industry.
Inna Modja is another Francophone artist whose influence in the industry cannot be overlooked. Her exquisite albums like Love Revolution, Motel Bamako, and Every day is a New World are absolutely pleasing to the ears. The 38 year old talented chanteuse sings about Africa’s beauty and life. Some of her best songs: ‘French Cancan’, ‘Forgive Yourself’, ‘La Fille La Ludo’, ‘Outlaw’, ‘Sambe’, and ‘water’ have been massively streamed by lovers of her sound. Outside of music, Inna has been seen advocating for Women’s right and issues surrounding the Climate change and sustainable fashion. Due to her fiery spirit, this French-Malian singer has won the hearts of many as she continues to positively influence the Francophone music industry.
Yseult Onguenet, better known as Yseult, is a French singer born to Cameroonian parents in France on 18th August 1994. Yseult beautifully combines Pop, R&B and trap and also draws inspiration from genres like indie rock and psychedelic! Her airy vocals make her stand out in the industry due to the distinct softness of her voice. Yseult’s songs and performances have racked up millions of views form fans who just can’t get enough of her authentic sound. She maintains that her career influences remain Edith Piaf as well as some other classic French singers. Her hit songs: ‘Corps’, ‘Wine’, and ‘BAD BOY’ are all gifts to the music industry.
African Francophone musicians have consistently and proudly waved the banner of the French region high. Through their beautifully crafted music, they have been able to tell stories of their culture and history and still entertain their fans without sacrificing on authenticity. They have used Francophone songs as a channel to display the rich heritage of the French people to the rest of the world.
Just like every other foreign language based music genre, the influence of francophone singers In Africa is being limited by the gap in language. Thankfully, music itself is a language and as long as it has a good melody and rhythm, the lyrics don’t even fully need to be comprehended before it is accepted.
Another obstacle to the influence of Francophone singers is that their music is typically targeted at a much smaller Francophone audience as opposed to some other genres which are focused on the mainstream audience thus lending to a wider reach.
Yes, even in the face of the obvious challenges, Francophone singers continue to thrive. The French Hip-hop genre in particular has recently become very popular in the African Francophone market Their pleasant romantic songs have appealed to people all over the world.
Even though African Francophone singers are not represented enough in the industry, they have proved time and time again that they have what it takes to thrive. These singers have refused to relent in the use of their talents to announce their origins and keep their fans entertained with consistent hit tracks and albums. Using a variety of genres and blending them together in compelling sounds, these artists have succeeded in capturing the attention of not only local, but also international Francophone music fans.