Stromae: Belgian Singer Takes Europe by Storm

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Stromae: anagram for Maestro (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

A few months ago, my old friend Redha Hazourli sent me a video of a new Belgian musician named Stromae–an anagram for Maestro–singing a song, “Formidable” (translates to “great” in French) out on the streets during the early morning commute. He pretends to be drunk as he tells everybody, “Tu etait formidable,” (“You are wonderful”). All this started when he observed a clochard (French for an urban homeless person) yelling out at a passing couple “you think you are great (“formidable“) because you are married!”. He is a big star now with loads of charisma and style, and thousands of people have now seen this video. Some have even compared the lyrics to Jacques Brel’s unforgettable songs.

Stromae ( Paul Van Haver) was born in Brussels in 1985. His father was Rwandan, his mother Flemish. His father was an architect and he never really knew him because he returned to Rwanda where he was killed in the Tutsi genocide of 1994. His father is the focus of a new single “Papaoutai” which in proper French it would be, “Papa Oú T’es” (“Papa Where Are You?”) The video has been watched 150 million times and has been #1 in many European countries. The Prime Minister of Belgium even gave Barack Obama his album during a recent European conference.

What I didn’t know is that Stromae is a huge can of Cesaria Evora and wrote a song about her on his new album.

Stromae will be touring in the US and will be coming to Los Angeles at the Fonda on October 4th & 5th. The 4th is already sold out but tickets are still available for Oct. 5th.