Lending an ear to Inna Modja’s new album transports you instantaneously to the heart of Mali, to what makes Mali’s heart beat. The performer who gave us the flamboyant hits “Mister H”, “French Cancan” and “La Fille du Lido”, with two Victoires de la Musique nominations for the public’s new talent and video clip of the year, is now getting back to her roots with her third album. This time Inna tells her story, freeing herself as if her life depended on it, as a sign for her African roots to set her art on fire. Inna learned her singer-songwriter craft from her elders, like the Rail Band who play at the Bamako railway station buffet. She has even named the work “Motel Bamako” in their honour. Inna Modja is piecing herself together. Motown soul, Sahel desert Blues, Mandinka guitars, a Fula flute, Kora meets hip hop, music setting the pace in her teen years and shaping her phrasing in Bambara, and electro-pop for the looping that is also a central feature of Malian music.
Inna went back home because it was a vital necessity given the suffering of her people. This is abundantly clear on “Going Home”. Events in Mali have prompted Inna to take up a position, which she did on “Tombouctou Drums”, condemning the war with her electro loops and guitar riffs backing determined, proud lyrics in Bambara. On “My people” featuring Congolese rapper Baloji, they occupy the field together in order to resist. An electro-pop hymn driven by percussion and transcended by a traditional choir. Inna is determined to condemn, and on the track “Speeches”, quite naturally found a kindred spirit in Oxmo Puccino, displaying joyful irony, childishly poking fun at leaders who poke fun at the people as they deliver speeches devoid of substance.
Creating often throws up an opportunity to meet your idols. Inna was delighted to sing with Oumou Sangaré on a song that is unfortunately only too current, about Lampedusa. Mali is a land of tradition and story-telling. In “Diabary”, Inna recounts an ancient story of a passionate love affair, imbued with guitar blues, and on the hypnotic track “Sambé”, she raps out the blessing for better days that unfortunately don’t come in Bambara. Inna blurs the codes and mixes influences on “Outlaw”, merging Britpop, Kora and percussion with electronics from Spectra Soul, a Drum’n Bass DJ duo who also embraced the project.
But hiding behind the warrior is a hurt woman softly talking to herself on “Forgive yourself” and to her loved one on “Kana ta” (Don’t go). The Malian also makes room for Brit pop and culture like in the Blues track with the Noisettes “The man across the street” recorded in their Brighton studio. “Motel Bamako” is a place where you feel comfy up close with Inna Modja’s intimacy, a warm, genuine work you can relate to at once, a sort of African voyage where you come back filled with pure sensations, so you yearn to go back as soon as possible, so you say a single prayer: “Sambé”.
February 9, 2016 @ Standard East Village Penthouse
Inna Modja Invited to #ShareHumanity Event at UN for World Humanitarian Day (August 2015)
UNITED NATIONS & PARTNERS HOST #SHAREHUMANITY EVENT FOR WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY
WHAT: The United Nations and partners will bring together humanitarian workers, media innovators, celebrity musicians and influencers on the eve of World Humanitarian Day (WHD) in the name of inspiring the world’s humanity using the power of social media. The event will be punctuated by storytelling and musical performances and place a spotlight on humanitarian crises around the world – with the ultimate goal of galvanizing a greater sense of global citizenship through this year’s groundbreaking #ShareHumanity digital campaign.
WHEN: August 19, 2015
WHO: Juanes, Colombian Music Superstar (@juanes)
Cody Simpson, Australian singer/songwriter (@CodySimpson)
Inna Modja, Malian-French singer/songwriter (@Innamodja)
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Amy Robach, Good Morning America anchor (@arobach)
Nima Elbagir, CNN senior international correspondent (@NimaCNN)