Sister duo Les Nubians perform at Belly Up Aspen |

Sister duo Les Nubians perform at Belly Up Aspen

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Delphine DialloAfro-French sister duo Les Nubians perform Thursday at Belly Up Aspen.

ASPEN – When Hlne Faussart was 9, her parents told her that the family would be moving from Paris to Chad, where Hlne’s father had found a new job.Faussart questioned the relocation, but eventually came to appreciate that moving from Europe to Africa made the world seem bigger and richer.”It gave us a sense of geography, that the world is wide, that the history and culture and origins are diverse,” she said.Faussart is looking at the world in an even bigger context now. She and her sister Clia, who comprise the singing duo Les Nubians, have a new album completed and due out in January, their first album in five years. The title is “N Revolution,” and the “N,” Faussart said, stands for “new universe,” an indication that Les Nubians are not only thinking about France and Chad, Europe and Africa, but the past and future, and the world of imagination and potential.”We’re living in new times, a new age,” Faussart said from Portland, Ore. “We truly believe we have to keep our dreams alive, and pursue our dreams. Our dreams are true; they’re a product of ourselves, a projection of a better self. When it’s hard times, instead of being mournful, we have to celebrate. The worse is just an illusion; the better things, we can make real.”The Faussart sisters got the impression early on that a broader perspective on the world was a good thing. Their mother was from Cameroon, their father from France, and the music that filled the house came from everywhere: France (Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf) and Africa (Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba), but also Cuba (Celia Cruz) and Russia (the Red Army Band). “They were just expressing themselves, using the music,” Faussart said of her parents.In Chad, the Faussart sisters began singing, not only listening. “In a country where there is war, or not so much entertainment, you had to entertain yourselves, by yourself,” Faussart said. “We created shows for our family and friends.”In 1993, their father died, and music took on even greater importance. “It turned into a way to be together, to alleviate the pain,” Faussart said. “A friend said, Stop singing at home; you’ve got to share it with an audience.'”The duo’s debut album, “Princesses Nubiennes,” synthesized R&B, hip-hop and African styles, and became one of the best-selling French-language albums. “Je Veux D’la Musique,” from their second album, “One Step Forward,” earned a Grammy nomination. Les Nubians, who play Belly Up on Thursday have recorded with the Roots, and were included on the Fela Kuti tribute album “Red Hot + Riot,” alongside D’Angelo, Common, Meshell N’degOcello and Sade.The duo’s style has often been referred to as “Afropean,” but that can seem like a narrow categorization. “N Revolution” features contributions from the South African band Freshlyground, the Ghanaian-American hip-hopper Blitz the Ambassador, New Jersey soul singer Eric Roberson, and Manu Dibango, a Cameroonian saxophone player whom Faussart says is like an uncle to her.”It’s a travel through black songs, from the roots to the trees, from African music to blues to the Caribbean. We kind of synthesized all that music to play our own,” Faussart, who lives in Brooklyn and Paris, said. “We don’t say we’re R&B or soul or Afro-pop. It’s the music that looks like us. We’re doing universal-citizen music.”

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