Friday, November 20, 2009
Celia Faussart, aka BlueNefertiti, Builds Bridges Made of Music
By Chris LaRose
It's been said that music is one of the few means of entertainment that can bring together almost anyone from any sort of background. Celia Faussart, one half of the Grammy-nominated group Les Nubians, knows this firsthand, as she and her sister have worked extremely hard to allow their music to act as a bridge from culture to culture. The sisters combine soul, reggae, and African sounds in their music, much of which is entirely in French - however, their dream is that, regardless of the language barrier, their music can span entire cultures and backgrounds and touch different kinds of people in many different ways.
"There's a moment in the beginning where you don't know if people will be touched by your music," Celia said, "but when you see people's reactions to the sounds you're creating... you know you've done it." My interview with Celia really solidified in me that these two women wanted to change their world, or at least a few minds, with their music. Her personality is immediately warm and welcoming and she speaks with the knowledge of an adult, but the excitement of a child who's learning new things on a daily basis; it's all of these things that left me with no question as to why she has experienced so much success.
Though their success is apparent nowadays, with a Grammy nomination under their belt and many other recognitions as well, the sisters of Les Nubians (which literally means "from Nubia" as a tribute to their homeland) didn't grow up with the knowledge of how to turn their love of music into a career. It wasn't until Celia met her friend's mother who was a successful opera singer. "She was the first one to tell me that in order to succeed with singing," Faussart said, "you had to practice, practice, practice... so I did."
Armed with a slew of gifts, from her amazing voice to her obvious beauty, Celia began working with such big names as will.i.am of the Black Eyes Peas, who once told Celia that she reminded him of Nefertiti, the ancient Egyptian queen. "He always said I look like Nefertiti," she said. Celia then added "Blue" to the name Nefertiti because it is one of her favorite colors and musical modes. "So when it came to choose my name for 'Paris@Night,' I knew that was going to be the name I used." Paris@Night is Celia's biggest dream coming true, something she realized could actually happen once she arrived in New York City. The show is a combination of the sister's creative ideas as well as their unique and original sound - all taking place in a cabaret setting. "It's amazing to see my dream coming true," Faussart said, "I just hope one day to be able to make it an even larger production."
Music is such a large aspect of Faussart's life and when asked how she feels about the direction that hip hop music is taking, the sound in her voice changed. Her thick accent seems to almost pace itself automatically as she answers, "In the beginning, hip hop helped us have a strong spine... today, it is quite different... but, creation has to go on." It's not shocking to hear that a woman, who is trying so hard to bridge the gap between the every day Americans and those who do not fit the 'status quo' of what it means to be American, is disappointed in a music form that often further separates groups of people and reinforces stereotypes.
The sisters cite Ella Fitzgerald, The Fugees and Miriam Makeba among their influences and these names, especially Ella Fitzgerald, are actually quite obvious listening to some of Les Nubians music. According to the sister's Facebook biography, Celia has said, "Making this record was, in part, a way for our generation to give tribute to musicians we've looked up to and see that their music gets the recognition it deserves."
Though Celia is not a fan of labeling her music, in a 2008 interview with SingersRoom she explained her reasoning, "...we don’t define our music, it’s Afropean music, it’s the only definition I can give. But to tell you it’s Soul, it’s R&B, it’s Jazz, it’s Afro, it’s Hip/Hop, and [well] it’s everything that’s there." All in all, the music of Les Nubians has certainly touched a variation of lives and many of their fans openly say that the music the sister's have created has touched moments of their lives forever. "Their music is fun to dance to, sensual, and rhythmic, as well as healing in some of the tracks," said Michelle Montgomery, a longtime fan of Les Nubians, "for me [they] have been highlights [of] moments in my life, when I felt a particular feeling, they have been there to comfort me."
For another great story about Celia Faussart, please click here: "Celia Faussart Gives Journalism Students a High-Spirited Intervew"
Photo credit: Oluwaseye Olusa