I always love getting French-language submissions. I just have a soft spot in my heart for Parisian pop, and I'm very happy to now have Irma on my radar. She is one of France's biggest success stories to date who has gone from performing acoustic covers in her bedroom as a teenager to becoming a highly accomplished soul-pop producer, singer-songwriter, and online sensation with several worldwide tours to her name.
Irma, 31 years old, was born in Bangangte, Cameroon to professional parents and grew up in Douala where she started playing classical piano at the age of seven. Both of her parents enjoyed making music in their spare time: her father played bass and her mother sang in the church choir. After finding love together at university in Paris and then returning to Cameroon, they had vowed to send their children to school there. And so it was that Irma and her siblings moved to Paris to begin their studies when they came of age.
Her talents as writer and performer were soon recognized. Irma signed a record deal in 2008 while continuing to develop her online presence, and subsequently her debut single "I Know" was chosen by Google for an ad campaign. After reaching the Top Ten in France in 2012, she signed a U.S. deal with Universal Republic and followed up with her second album "Faces," produced by multiple Grammy-winners Jerry Wonder, Rodney Jerkins, and Doc McKinney.
Irma brought her eclectic creativity back home to Paris for a third full-length release "The Dawn" which brings together everything she loves: R&B, pop, blues, folk, soul, in a mix she calls afrofolk. "Va-t'en" is her first new single this year, and finds her exploring the vibrant interconnection between her twin identities as a child of Africa and the West. The lyrics to this melancholic yet hopeful song encapsulate that sense of inner conflict, and how the decision to stay or go can be both difficult and necessary. These are the words Irma heard as she left her hometown of Douala; these are the words she carried along the way that brought her home.
With equal helpings of pop sensibility and rhythmic fire, Irma combines her signature acoustic guitar with impeccable production and a flowing vocal sophistication. The music video for "Va-t'en" combines wide shots of the African landscape with impressive set designs, wildlife images, and cultural iconography in a way that is nothing short of mesmerizing. Irma assert herself as a unique artist and rising star with this captivating track and we can only nod with appreciation.