At Suggestion She'll Perform at Olympics, She's Bombarded

French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura accused by France's far right of butchering the language
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2024 1:19 PM CDT
At Suggestion She'll Perform at Olympics, She's Bombarded
French singer Aya Nakamura performs on stage during the 34th Victoires de la Musique, the annual French music awards ceremony, in Paris, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Aya Nakamura is "the most listened-to French artist in the world," according to the organizing committee of the Paris Olympics, so it makes sense that she might perform at the opening ceremony in July. There's been much speculation that she will. Local media reported Nakamura had discussed performing a song by 20th-century cabaret singer Édith Piaf, one of France's most celebrated performers, at the opening ceremony when she met with French President Emmanuel Macron last month. But just the suggestion has been met with a wave of racism, per the AFP. The 28-year-old, who counts more than a billion album streams on Spotify, was born in Bamako, Mali, before emigrating to France as a child.

Near the River Seine, an extremist group dubbed the Natives (Les Natifs) hung a banner reading, "There's no way Aya, this is Paris, not the Bamako market." Meanwhile, Marion Maréchal of the far-right Reconquest (Reconquête) party claimed Nakamura "doesn't sing in French," per the BBC. Figures on the right have previously criticized Nakamura for "the liberties she takes with the French language" through hiphop, per the AFP. "I can understand why some people say: 'Who does she think she is, mocking us in our French language?'" Nakamura told the outlet in a recent interview. "But it's important to accept the culture of others, and, me, I have two cultures."

She commented on the racist attacks on Sunday. "You can be racist but not deaf. … That's what hurts you!" Nakamura wrote on X, per AFP. "I'm becoming a number 1 state subject in debates … but what do I really owe you? Nada." The Olympics organizing committee responded Monday, saying it was "very shocked by the racist attacks" and offering its "total support" to Nakamura, whose real name is Aya Danioko. The French minister for sport urged the singer to ignore the backlash. "It doesn't matter, people love you," said Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. In a poll of the French public, however, 63% said Nakamura should not sing at the Olympics, per the BBC. Others argue the uproar has actually made it "imperative" that she perform. (More 2024 Paris Olympics stories.)

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