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Inna Modja is impossible to categorise

March 12, 2010

maliThe 25-year-old Malian is a rising star on France’s music scene with titles like “Let’s Go to Bamako”, that might be nostalgic tunes celebrating Mali’s capital, but that sound more like Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera than the music of Modja’s compatriots Salif Keita and Rokia Traore.

“I’m what I call ‘rock ‘n’ love’”, she tells Reuters Africa Journal when asked how she herself would categorize her music. “It’s not rock ‘n’ roll because I don’t go silly drinking or taking drugs, but I’m really rock, so I’m ‘rock ‘n’ love’.” 

Inna Modja released her debut album, “Everyday is a new world” in France in October 2009 and her first video, “Mr. H”, shows all the hallmarks of a pop princess and has enjoyed a lot of play on French TV stations.

Born in Mali, she lived in Nigeria, Togo and the USA with her diplomat parents before making Paris her home when she was 18. “I like my life in Paris,” she says. “I love my friends, people close to me – my daily life is very important to me. But in Bamako I have my family – this big town full of energy. I love the market and I love to walk along the banks of the river Niger.”  Legendary world musician Salif Keita is one of her mentors.  Inna Modja sang back-up for his band, the “Bamako Rail Band” before she decided to go solo.

In spite of the close ties that she maintains to her home country, Modja’s music is definitely a departure from what we usually think of as World Music or “African sound”. But then, what is African sound? And should upcoming African musicians like Inna Modja embrace influences from all over the world; or should they be ambassadors of their own musical heritage?

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