The story of Les Nubians is a global one. Throughout their discography, the duo has used their music to transmit cultural connectivity internationally and intergenerationally, transcending both cultural and linguistic barriers.
France-born sisters Helene and Celia Faussart were born to a French father and a Cameroonian mother and moved to the African country of Chad in their early childhood. They later returned to France as teenagers, where they started singing background for various artists and formed Les Nubians, originally imagined as an a cappella group intended to cover a wide range of R&B, African and reggae genres.
The pair caught the attention of Virgin Records, who signed the duo to their subsidiary OmTown/Higher Octave Records. Their debut album Princesses Nubiennes would quickly follow.
Listen to 5 essential tracks from Les Nubians:
1. “Demain jazz”
On Princesses Nubiennes, the duo built on the theme of Black royalty in a way that was relevant to the modern experience and touched on Black ancestral history as a form of empowerment. The Les Nubians musical experience proved to be a prolific melding of their myriad number of international influences.
The debut garnered the sisters a Grammy nomination, a Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for Best New Artist and two other NAACP Image Award nominations. With its innovative mix of hip-hop, neo soul and African rhythms, the album took America by storm, largely powered by a track that became their signature tune. “Makeda” married the vibes of Sade with Erykah Badu atop lyrics that were uncompromisingly militant, but written with an infectious ease and subtle sensuality.
3. “J’veux d’la musique (Tout le temps…)”
Throughout Princesses Nubiennes, the sisters exuded warm, intimate and sensual tones, their vocals coming together to build harmonies, filtered through universally uplifting messages set in sensitively calibrated tracks that drew on lush soul, steamy funk, beat-driven hip-hop cool and flowing jazz. These qualities would become hallmarks of the Les Nubians sound and be taken a step further on their sophomore release One Step Forward. The tracks on the band’s second album flow between English, Spanish and French lyrics, the languages seamlessly blending to reflect the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.
4. “FRAICHEUR SOUHAITEE”
The sophomore album One Step Forward launched Les Nubians to the head of the class in the burgeoning progressive soul music movement, while helping to spawn the emerging genre of Afropean. Shortly after its release, the sisters lost their mother. Devastated by the death of their matriarch, but inspired by the U.S. election of President Barack Obama, the duo traveled to Detroit to begin work on their third album, on which they collaborated with Detroit artists such as Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd, Malik Alston and songstress Diviniti. Nü Revolution featured more rhythmically upbeat tunes built around multiculturalism that fostered cultural understanding and equality.
Les Nubians have birthed a movement within progressive soul by fusing numerous aspects of the African diasporic experience to distill a wealth of sprawling universal word pictures atop some of the smoothest rhythms and harmonies in a French cool and African soul mélange.