Inna Modja @ Theatre Fairmount

Festival International Nuits d'Afrique de Montréal

It's Nuits d'Afrique's 30th anniversary! That's an amazing run for any festival let alone a festival that started in a small local club. Since the late '80s this festival has been bringing forth afro rhythms from Africa and its diaspora that have richly contributed to Montreal's music scene and unique vibe. That being said, there is no doubt that Nuits D'Afrique tends to favour a certain type of afro rhythms. My mom would call it "that Miriam Makeba sound that never gets old". Truth be told, I agree with her. Miriam Makeba, Tabou Combo, Jab Jab, and all those other classics brought (and still bring) us rhythms that are here for the long haul, but African music like all music is ever evolving and sometimes I'm curious about new school afro rhythms.

Luckily the festival had me covered in this domain as well this year by inviting Inna Modja, a dope singer, rapper, and activist from Bamako. Inna released her third album Motel Bamako last fall, and it's busting with afro electro and drum & bass sounds. Previously she was known more for her pop hits, but with this album she decided to root herself in her heritage and speak out on topics that are dear to her. Her hit single "Tombouctou" is the climax of these efforts where she speaks bluntly on women's rights and the war conflicts in Tombouctou... all while rocking a Thomas Sankara t-shirt. Message received Inna... guide the way to the revolution.

Needless to say, I was quite excited to see her live this past Friday at Theatre Fairmount, but I won't lie to you all, the show fell flat for me. I'm not if sure it was the awkward venue where 80% of the crowd was seated at an afro electro hip hop show, or the sound, which was honestly pretty terrible throughout. I could barely hear her sing let alone rap. Or maybe it was that half of the crowd was still expecting pop star Inna rather her new, more hard-hitting vibe. In any case, there was something off with the vibe and I unfortunately left disappointed. On the plus side, I just went home and blasted her album to make up for the sub par experience.

I'd love to see her again though, in less of a showcase context to see if she can rock a crowd live as well as she capture people's attention through video. That said, I highly suggest checking out the "Tombouctou" video and giving the Motel Bamako album a listen. I'll be keeping Inna Modja on my radar cause I feel like this is just the beginning of her transformation and there are more gems to come. 

Catch ya on the next review!


--Annick MF, together with Jess Glavina, hosts Creators Chorus, every Wednesday at 5PM, only on 1690AM in Montreal and online at