I’m convinced that people understand the meaning, even if it’s in French. You understand melancholy. You understand sadness, you understand happiness. And it’s enough.
California? Bonsoir. He says these words onstage to a Los Angeles audience that roars its welcome. But as Stromae brings his sound to an American audience, he remains “a reluctant star, a self-proclaimed non-celebrity.” He emphasizes, “I’m not the person who decided to make this album a success. People decided. And I’m just trying to never forget it.”
The first leg of his 2015 American tour behind him, Stromae turns his attention to his upcoming dates in Africa. The final African date will be in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Stromae will be returning to his father’s native country for the first time since he was a child. The artist, who was born and raised in Belgium and unreservedly claims his own identity as a Belgian, has also said he feels “40% African.” He appears both apprehensive and excited at the prospect of returning to Rwanda. “Being there again?” he asks himself with a grin, “So it’s gonna be special, I guess. It’s gonna be really deep, really important I think. ‘Cause that’s my origin. I will meet my family, family that I’ve never met and family that I met once or twice. I can imagine it’s gonna be a lot of feelings, emotions, yeah, discover again my country. My country.”
Stromae discusses bringing his music to the US, as well as returning to Rwanda, in this video produced by Al Jazeera America for their program “America Tonight.”
— Al Jazeera America (@ajam) April 28, 2015
As Stromae prepares to return to the former Belgian colony, the country prepares to welcome him. “Stromae performing in his home city, that should be an unforgettable experience”, says Judo Kanobana, director of Positive Production, the company helping to arrange the concert. He wants the people of Rwanda to come see “our brother and our son.” Kanobana told the New Times, Rwanda’s leading English-language daily, “We’re particularly keen about this concert and we have pulled all the stops to make it unforgettable. The sound system and the stage lighting will be perfect too.” Kanobana emphasized that there is a wide range of ticket prices for the show, because “they want to give everyone an opportunity to attend.”
Rwandan fan Jean-Claude Hitimana said “June 20 is really very far. I can’t wait to witness Stromae perform on stage. I have a collection of his music and it’s a miracle that I’ll be able to watch him perform. He is a great artiste and I love all his music, and my favourite is Papaoutai. I must attend his show.”
Benoit Kalisa commented on the New Times article, “This is so great, our brother is most welcome to his father’s land and will never regret to be there. We’re very proud of him as a brother.”
For more of Stromae’s thoughts on Rwanda, Africa, and his tour there, see this interview.