Aya Nakamura's Olympic song proposal sparks French far-right backlash

Europe  AFP - Miguel Medina
MAR 11, 2024 LISTEN
© AFP - Miguel Medina

The possibility that France's top-selling music artist Aya Nakamura might sing an Edith Piaf song during the Paris Olympics opening ceremony has upset far-right groups.

French weekly magazine L'Express reported last month that the French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura discussed the possibility of performing a song by 20th century icon Edith Piaf when she met President Emmanuel Macron.

Neither party has confirmed the rumours but that was enough to become an issue at a campaign rally on Sunday for the Reconquest party, led by former far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, where Nakamura's name drew boos from the crowd.

The 28-year-old singer has become a pop superstar around the world for hits like Djadja, which has close to a billion streams on YouTube alone.

A small extremist group, the Natives, was particularly upset at the prospect of her performing at the Olympics, hanging a banner on the River Seine that read: "There's no way Aya, this is Paris, not the Bamako market".

Nakamura responded on social media, saying: "You can be racist but not deaf... That's what hurts you! I'm becoming a number 1 state subject in debates... but what do I really owe you? Nada."

Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera also weighed in, telling Nakamura: "It doesn't matter, people love you. Don't worry about anything."

Another parliamentarian, Antoine Leaument of the left-wing LFI party (France Unbowed), also hit out at the Natives, posting: "They claim to love their country but they want to exclude the most listened-to French-speaking singer in the world since Edith Piaf. We cannot be racist and patriotic in France."

Some on the right are offended at the liberties Nakamura takes with the French language, though it is the familiar argot or slang of hip-hop.

"I can understand why some people say: 'Who does she think she is, mocking us in our French language?'" said Nakamura.

"But it's important to accept the culture of others, and, me, I have two cultures," she said.

Angelo Gopee, boss of event producers Live Nation France, said it was "unforgiveable that racists can attack an artist for her origins and her skin colour.

"The Olympics should transcend borders," he said.
(with AFP)