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Virtual Event–Les Nubians/Evolution of Freedom

February 25, 2021 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Virtual Public Program
Phyllis Terrell

“Evolution of Freedom” is a new forum series hosted by the Fort Monroe Authority and the Fort Monroe National Monument (National Park Service) and is being supported by a grant from Huntington Ingalls Industries. In this series we are exploring the topic of freedom and how cultural influences continue to impact, and have impacted the arc of freedom in the United States. This month we feature, Les Nubians, a French neosoul musical duo from Paris, France. Historian of slavery and the African Diaspora, Dr. Jessica Marie Johnson of Johns Hopkins University will guide us in a discussion of their music as we explore together the influences of culture and history on their lives, and expressions of FREEDOM! This virtual performance and conversation is free and open to the public.


Born in France from a French father and a Cameroonian mother, Hélène and Célia Faussart spent their childhood in Chad before going back to their teenage hood in Bordeaux. That’s where the sisters started their musical career and created their band Les Nubians in 1995.
The duo begins with acapella covers of the Great Black Music Repertoire as if it was a tree, from its roots, traditional african songs through Jazz, Bossa Nova, Soul, to its leaves: Reggae and Hip Hop… Progressively, they add original compositions to develop their own branch and style: Afropean Soul.

Hélène and Célia find inspiration in the work of Ella Fitzgerald, Abbey Lincoln, Prince and the african icones Miriam Makeba and Fela Kuti.
Their first album, “Princesses Nubiennes” (Virgin France) released in June 1998, before coming out on Omtown/Higher Octave in the USA in September of the same year. It makes a revolution in entering the charts of Billboard 200 at #100, a premiere for an opus mainly in French. It becomes “the most popular French speaking album in the US since Edith Piaf.” (Billboard Magazine) The song “Makeda”, an anthem paying homage to the Queen of Sheba opens for them the doors to the world.

In 1999, Les Nubians won a Lady of Soul Train Award in the category Best New Group or Duo. This album also marks the premises of a genre: Neo Soul.
Panafricanists to their core, the group continues on exploring the African Diaspora in Jamaica, London and Paris to work their second album with a team of inspired collaborators: Talib Kweli, Morgan Heritage, Manu Dibango, Richard Bona, the pianist Ray Lema, Mario Canonge, Benjamin Biolay and the maestro IG Culture. The album “One Step Forward” (Virgin France) released March 2003 and the title “J’Veux de la Musique” offers them a Grammy nomination in the category Alternative R&B Best Performance on Track.

In 2004, the sisters record the track “Going All the Way” with the Reggae star Beres Hammond for the album “UNITY: The Official Athens Olympics 2004″
In 2005, Les Nubians produced their first collective piece: ” ECHOS, Chapter One: Nubians Voyager”, a book CD of poems in music with Slam Poetry artists from the US, France and Africa.

In 2008, they participated in the compilation “In the name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2” with an Afro Electro version of “With or Without You” of the legendary group U2.
Independent artists from now on, Les Nubians records “Nü Revolution” an album completely produced by their own label Nubiatik Publishing. It released in 2011 and enters #7 in the World Album de Billboard for 5 consecutive weeks.

In 2016, Les Nubians, eulogist of peace, joined Boddhi Satva, DJ Producer forerunner of Afro House for a wonderful Club tune “BEAUTIFUL HUMAN” for his first album.
On with myriads of featurings with The Roots, Black Eyed Peas, Mos Def, Kery James, Henri Salvador, Freshly Ground as well as a tribute to Fela Kuti on the album Red, Hot & Riot with Cheikh Lo to name a few, Les Nubians also shared the stage with James Brown, Chaka Khan, Oumou Sangare, Neneh Cherry, Thundercat and many others.

As of now, the sisters live a nomadic life between Brooklyn, Paris and Yaounde.
Always on stage, the group plays more than fifty concerts, lectures and masterclasses per year. The Ladies continue to spread their message and style at festivals, cultural centers, theatres, colleges and clubs throughout the world

2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the group, Afropean Pioneers, Queens of AfroPop.

*Grammy Awards Nominee
*TOP 10 – Billboard R&B/Hip Hop with “Makeda”
* 2 Lady of Soul Train Awards Nominations – Best R&B New Group or Duo Winner
* 2 NAACP Image Awards Nominations
*Spread on Vanity Fair the Music Issue
* African Diaspora Awards ( 2012) Winner- Best Musician of the Year
*4 albums and more than 750 000 copies sold worldwide