By Walter Greene
YANNICK NOAH is the former tennis champion that came to fame in 1983 when he won the French Open, bringing that coveted title and trophy home for the first time in four decades. Noah was the first Black man to win the title and remains the last Frenchman to have won the French Open men's single title. A fine example of `Whatever Happened To?' Yannick Noah has parlayed his career from the sports arena into that of entertainment. Music to be exact. Over the last two decades Yannick has released 10 CDs and is now on the verge of releasing his 11th album/CD. His newest work titled `Hommage' is a collection of 11 new takes on Bob Marley's legendary classics. This is a tribute to a legend, who happens to be Noah's idol, making this recording has been a dream that Yannick Noah has had for years. The new CD will be released on October 9th, on RED/Sony Music France.
Noah who transitioned to singing after he retired from tennis, has sincere topped the annual list of the "Top 50 Most Popular French Personalities" in his homeland for the eight year in a row. His ten previous CD sold a collective of 10 million copies and he's performed throughout Europe. On the new `Hommage' CD he collaborates with young multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Simeo for the covers of classic Bob Marley tunes including: "Redemption Song," "Buffalo Soldier," "I Shot the Sheriff," "Could You Be Loved," "Easy Skanking" and "Jammin." Noah also incorporated his hope for world peace, much like the message embodied in Marley's lyrics. The CD including Marley's songs most associated with those issues: "War" and "Africa Unite."
FIGHTING FOR PEACE AND CHANGE
Yannick Noah's musical career began in 1991 with "Black or What!" Once a gladiator on the tennis courts, his sports career spanned almost two decades. He captured a total of 23 single titles and 16 doubles titles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005, Noah has been very active in charity work for years, he's now fighting for change and peace with Marley's words. "The worst thing, my greatest nightmare, is that one day I'll forget where I came from," said Noah, noting that Bob Marley could have easily said the same thing....feeling other people's suffering can encourage us to put things right. To feel that suffering is to accept ourselves as society refuses to accept us: vulnerable and compassionate. Yet it is these values, these tendencies that inspired Marley to write such powerful and magnificent songs. The personal path that Yannick has followed through his life has helped him live up to those songs today.
AN INTENSE EXPERIENCE
"When I sing Bob Marley's songs, I'm speaking from the heart, conveying something that only he manages to fully express. As a performer, it's an incredible feeling to be at the microphone and sing those words that have been a part of my life for so long. I've never experienced anything so beautiful, so intense. Not `intense' as in `powerful,' more in the sense of `delicious'. So this venture is a very important one," revealed Noah. To say that Noah is a huge Marley fan would be an understatement. But he does not come across as a gawking fan attempting to copy his favorite artist, Noah's whole vibe on this record reaches a state of easy intimacy, using his own, unique flavor to make the music feel refreshingly new and full of enthusiastic emotions.
Marley's songs has always been striking in their simplicity and forever timely, revealing the signs of the times. His lyrics and melodies compel the listener with a gentle, radiant ease noted a renowned writer. But Bob Marley's music went beyond that. Bob Marley's historic information, laced with love songs were entwined with political manifestos, cries of pain were molded into hymns of redemption. This plateau of talent is what Noah's level of music has brought as a continuation of Bob's legacy. Noah is carrying on a great historic tradition which will make the music live on further on other levels. Its beyond timeless....and Yannick Noah's continuation proves to be a shining light of change.
BOTH MEN OF PEACE
Not everyone can justly radiate such bright spirits, but on `Hommage,' Yannick Noah proves that he can do Bob Marley's song more than enough justice. Noah is able to do this for reasons beyond simply the mixed races that he and Bob Marley share; something he sees as a fueling factor in his ability to pay tribute to the historical figure of Bob Marley - `an almost instinctive desire to bring together whites and Blacks.' noted a media scribe. In addition to these factors another duality brings them together, something more directly related to their respective characters: they are both men of peace.