RFI Musique: Let’s talk about a word that you seem fond of, “paradox”, since it is the title you gave your album.
Ray Lema: We live in a society full of paradoxes right now, in the sense that the all right analyses have been made, but we act in complete contradiction with what these analyses are teaching and showing us. Take cigarettes, for example. […] This type of paradox weighs me down. I say to myself, how can society be so advanced and so childish at the same time?
Is there also a paradox in being a musician today?
It is important to separate the stardom from the musicians. As a musician, you want to make music that produces a little, indescribable joy, but to be a star, you have to get yourself dressed up to be a consumer product and join a process that us musicians cannot always control. So yes, there is some kind of paradox there.
For a musician like you, who sees the sense in maintaining French-speaking communities, isn’t it a paradox to sing in English as you do on some of the tracks on your album?
No, because I am married to an American and we speak English at home. So, although I am a Francophone, I can be an Anglophone too. It isn’t a paradox; it’s a reality for quite a few world citizens today.
This album includes a track you wrote in homage to Ali Farka Touré and a cover version of "C’est une Garonne", which you wrote for Claude Nougaro. Are these acts of friendship or remembrance?
Both. Each was a personal friend of mine and had something to teach me. With Claude, I learned my command of the French language. […] As for Ali, we saw each other at festivals, but we had never really hit it off, until one day, we found ourselves at the same show in Brazil. Jorge Ben Jor had invited us both to his concert (Angélique Kidjo was there too). Ali said to me, “When I look at you, sometimes you are really white and sometimes you are really African.” This was news! “We’ll talk about it,” he said. And so he invited me to his house, in Niafunké in Mali. He talked to me a lot about African culture there, and taught me a lot. These two guys were friends of mine, but at the same time, I owe them a gesture of remembrance because they brought some fantastic things to me.» (RFI Musique)
A full English bio here
Biografia in italiano qui
Official Website here
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