conversational quality

Julia Sarr

Julia Sarr is a Mezzo-soprano born in Dakar, Senegal.

She honed her reputation as a sought-after backing vocalist in Paris for such stars as Jean-Jacques Goldman, Michel Fugain, MC Solaar, Julio Iglesias, and Youssou N’Dour, after having launched her singing career (closer to West Africa’s typical polyrhythmic signatures) with live gigs with Fela Kuti’s rhythmic alter ego, the legendary Nigerian Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. For an especially fruitful period of more than a decade, Sarr shared stage and studio with the respected Congolese singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer Lokua Kanza. Her a cappella solos graced Jean-Claude Petit’s score for Raoul Peck's historical film Lumumba starring Eriq Ebouaney.

After nurturing her solo aspirations and songwriting quietly for years, Sarr has found in Patrice Larose, a flamenco-inspired French guitarist with whom she has released an album titled Set Luna (on the No Format! and Universal Jazz labels in Europe and on the boutique label Sunnyside Records in the United States), an engaging partner with whom to merge haunting individualities, stories, and musical traditions. For all of the richness of the respective canons and traditions in which Sarr and Larose find their anchors, the Sarr-Larose duo is more a flowing conversation between individuals than a studied hybrid of styles. This conversational quality elevates the partnership above a simple encounter of musical forms. Thus Flamenco and Senegalese music appear on Set Luna, but as shadowy rather than dominant presences, as cultural imprints which Sarr and Larose could never undo within their musical selves, and which they claim it would have been useless to try to erase.

Set Luna (Wolof, in English "So I’ve Observed"), and the duo's October 24, 2005 American debut at Carnegie Hall, were both hailed as scarcely like anything else produced from the inexhaustibly rich Senegalese vocal tradition of which Sarr is a part.

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