French singer-songwriter, Jain has become a global sensation after releasing her first album titled, Zanaka which features an ode to Mama Africa.
It takes just a few seconds of listening to Jain to know that you’ve stumbled on someone special. Pick a song – any song – from the Parisian’s glorious, globe-trotting debut album, Zanaka, and the effect is the same. Instantly, you’ll be startled, smitten and smiling.
It took about a minute for the audience at this year’s French Grammys, Les Victoires de la Musique, to anoint Jain pop’s most compelling new star. Performing her song Come at the televised ceremony, surrounded by dancing doppelgangers, backed by masked drummers and blaring brass, Jain stole the show as the crowd leapt from their seats in disbelief. The following day, Come was at No.1, helping to propel Zanaka to platinum sales in France within a couple of months of its release.
Zanaka means childhood in Malagasy, Jain’s mother’s native tongue and is a telling title. The album’s ten songs are a diary that documents the singer’s life from 16 to 23, although some influences date back even further – to the Manu Chao, Youssou N’Dour and Miriam Makeba records her French father and half-Madagascan mother played at home in Toulouse, to the drums Jain took up aged seven and the family’s first big move, to Dubai, when she was nine.
Her song ‘Come’ has since spread across Europe, going gold in Poland, Top 10 in Belgium and storming up the charts in Germany and Italy. Its wacky video has more than 20 million views on YouTube. Jain has received rave reviews for every stop on her tour with Christine and the Queens. That the 24 year old hadn’t released any music until last summer attests to her ability to ambush listeners. Quite simply, she sounds like no one else in pop.
Now she’s making waves again with her music video titled Makeba, which was filmed in South Africa. The song is an ode to South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba.
Growing up the 24-year-old’s French father used to play Miriam Makeba’s records at their home in Toulouse.
“Her voice is part of my childhood,” says Jain. “In Paris I discovered that a lot of my friends knew nothing about her. I found that sad so I wrote the song. The idea was to modernise Miriam Makeba so people my age might search her out. It was the last song I wrote for the album. It’s now the second single in France, so it’s on the radio. But Come is still played a lot too. It’s so funny to hear the song that started this album and the one that finished it, written seven years apart, on the radio at the same time.”
Inspired by the music and a mix of other influences, Jain has developed a “joyous, sun-soaked, rhythm-driven” sound that has everyone talking.
Watch the music video below: