Stromae: Papaoutai

Written by Devony Smith

Soprano

March 29, 2019

I am shamelessly ending this week of music with one of my favorite techno-pop songs. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for a solid beat and varied syncopation. I think that’s why I am drawn to contemporary music—I love the challenge of decoding a composers rhythmic intent and marrying difficult rhythm with the language on the page.

Today I am sharing the a song by the Belgian rapper/singer-songwriter Stromae called “Papaoutai.” (His output of music is primarily in French). Aside from the catchy beat and party atmosphere that the song invokes, Stromae folds a heart-wrenching personal message into the text. Stromae was born to a Flemish mother and Rwandan father, who was killed in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. “Papaoutai” is a clever play on the french phrase “Papa où t’es?” (Papa where are you?). Stromae misspells the phrase to mimic the spelling of a child, as he was a child when he lost his own father. I included the music video version of this song, as it is highly imaginative and impactful.

Thank you for letting me share some of my favorite pieces of music with you this week! Until next time!

Devony Smith

Devony Smith is a versatile soprano excelling in both contemporary and traditional repertoire. This year, she will present a recital in a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Citywide Concerts. Devony has recently performed Kate Soper’s self-accompanied opera Here Be Sirens at National Sawdust, the title role in the workshop of Matt Aucoin’s new opera Eurydice as a part of Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Fusion: New Works program and the Metroplitan Opera. Devony will be performing the world premiere of a piece from Kate Soper’s new opera, The Romance of the Rose, on March 28 as part of the NYFOS Next series. 

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