In Paris


LP version. Includes printed under sleeve; includes download code. To produce a record can be quite an adventure -- to do so with young girls from Northwest Benin is one tall order. Though not exactly a world music label, Born Bad Records took up the challenge and released Star Féminine Band's first album in late 2020 (BORNBAD 128CD/LP). Heaps of acclaims and praise and the whole shebang, then boom: the tour that was to materialize, live, all of the band and its entourage's hopes got cancelled due to Covid. The pandemic didn't get the better of them, though; with their desire to go up on European stages still very much alive, the combo reappeared on the Transmusicales festival's line-up just one year later -- a highlight of their first tour, regardless of all the hurdles and hiccups. "The procedure wasn't as simple as the first time around." That's how self-appointed "band dad" (two of his daughters are part of the formation, which he initiated in 2016) and songwriter André Balaguemon euphemistically describes the obstacles he had to go through in order to go to France. Inviting over minor African girls is a long shot, not to mention in full Covid season. A first in this tour of all of the first times: leaving Benin, taking the plane, discovering Paris... "Everything intrigued them!", JB adds, never out of flowery anecdotes. National newspapers, specialized magazines, radios and TV stations, Arte and TV5, then the BBC had interest. They left convinced, just like the audience, enthralled by the direct, live formula. All the same when they had to record in the studio -- a whole new thing too, like a final challenge they rose to with youth's talent, thanks to the listening skills of Laurent Boisgisson from One Two Pass It studio. A feverish and energetic soundtrack in which nabo, peulh and waama are enlivened with drum lines and spiced up with more "modern" sounds, spreading words of tolerance and kindness. Simple and direct, they speak of their reality, of the ills of young women who don't always have a choice. JB welcomed them in a record studio, and allowed for the formula to be sharpened into a sort of garage band with an Afro twist. Thanks to the English lessons that their manager Jérémie Verdier has been providing every Sunday night for two years over video conference, the girls even experimented with English lyrics in "We Are Star Feminine Band" and "Woman Stand Up". In Paris is the happy outcome of that challenge. Liner notes in English and French.