BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Sisters Celia and Helene Faussart, who have traveled all over the world with their R&B group Les Nubians, chose Bed-Stuy as their home over former residences in France and Chad.
“When the summertime is here, people are outside and they’re loud and alive,” Celia Fassart said. “That’s part of the reason I love Bed-Stuy. I feel at home here. It reminds me of Africa.”
One of the most successful French-language bands in the U.S., Les Nubians had their first hit in 1999 with the single “Makeda.” The debut album on which it appeared, Princesses Nubiennes, earned them a Grammy nomination.
Currently creating a remix album of their 2011 release, “Nu Revolution,” Les Nubians have also collaborated on “Pacha’s Pajamas” — a children’s pop musical that also features Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli.
DNAinfo New York spoke with Celia Fassart about how she made Brooklyn her home.
How did you come to live in Brooklyn?
I started to get tired of France. The political people who run my country are terrible, especially for people of color.
Each time we were rehearsing in New York or stopping between shows in New York, we were staying in Brooklyn. I started to discover Bed-Stuy and I started really loving it. I have friends in Brooklyn — friends that are very important and who I can rely on. When you leave your country with kids and you’re by yourself, it’s good to have a new family support. You know, people that you can trust.
Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey are frequent collaborators of yours and they also live in Bed-Stuy. Are they part of that supportive community you describe?
I discovered Bed-Stuy with them. I think the first time I went to Bed-Stuy was with Talib Kweli, but I didn’t really have them in mind when I moved in here. [But] you cannot forget them.
How do you feel about the changing neighborhood?
It’s impossible not to notice the change. I’d say that Bed-Stuy is gentrifying. One of the reasons that I moved to Bed-Stuy too was for the community that’s in Bed-Stuy. You know when it’s sunny because you can open up your window and hear people’s music outside coming out of their houses, out of their cars, a lot of parties.
It’s so great for my soul.
Now, they’re trying to make it quieter with the movement of population because people who move here want calm. At the same time, for the French girl that I am, I kind of appreciate the café. There are more and more coffee places and bars.
Tell us about your favorites.
My neighborhood bar is Vodou. It’s been here not so long, four or five years. But it’s still my neighborhood bar. The food is good. The music is good. It’s Haitian-owned. That’s where I see my musician friends. When you work at home and it’s one or two in the morning and you want to have a drink and see some faces, coming out of your creative loneliness, you can go to Vodou.
I would of course talk about Peaches, Saraghina for their pizza and their coffee. There is this very cute place called Bread Stuy. It’s a natural, locally-grown place that is linked to FreeBrook Mansion which is a community place in Bed-Stuy where there are events and classes. I also like going to Super French.
Why did you get involved in “Pacha’s Pajamas”?
It’s great that people from our generation are taking the initiative to make music for children only. Both my sister and I have kids and we just think we live in a time where our kids are fed with less and less nurturing food for their soul, so it’s always a pleasure to be able to reach them.