By Risasi Dais
Helene and Celia Faussart, the dynamic Grammy-nominated sister duo from Bordeaux, France known in the music industry as Les Nubians, gave an incredible concert on March 27th at The Schomburg Center in Harlem The concert closed out an amazing month of musical tributes to the legendary Ella Fitzgerard’s 100th birthday celebration during Women’s History Month.
Each Monday evening during March various acclaimed musicians and singers expressed their talents to a single dimension of Fitzgerald’s magnificent career. Among the performers were harpist Brandee Younger who was joined by singer Jean Baylor, Camille Thurman (alto sax and vocals), Courtney Bryan (piano), Dezron Douglas (bass) and Kassa Overall (drums) as they displayed Fitzgerald’s influence in both sacred and secular music. Grammy Award –winning jazz drummer, composer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington with some invited guests presented Fitzgerald’s influence and impact on today’s contemporary music. There was also guest curator Aja Burrell Wood, an ethnomusicologist and adjunct professor of African American music at the New School & Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and the Afro-Latino Festival, which highlighted Fitzgerald’s cultural connection to Latin music.
During Les Nubians’ performance, the French sisters who also lived in Chad, took the audience on a thrilling musical journey of some of their songs in English and French blending African rhythms with jazz, R & B and a cappella.
During their tribute to Ella, the sisters mentioned that Ella was world renowned and that she performed every where, her legendary vocalizing was cited as influencing singers world-wide.
Celia recalled being about 13 years old, living in Paris when she received a tape of Ella from her sister, Helene, who was living in Africa. “ Listening to that amazing voice of Ella changed my life foreve,” said Celia.
They began their performance singing “All the Things You Are” singing in an African zouk style, followed by several songs — “Solide,” “They All Laughed,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Misty” in English. They blended singing in perfect harmony of African songs as “Bebela”, “Demain” and “Makeda” to ending with “Stompin at the Savoy” sung in english which was joined by welcomed collective singing of the audience. While ending their performance, the sisters were applauded with a standing ovation.
Following their performance, the sisters were warmly met by loyal fans in the Schomburg lobby for the signing of their CD’s and to pose for photo-ops, documenting such a wonderful historic concert for Ella’s 100th birthday celebration at The Schomburg Center.