Three years ago, a young unknown girl arrived in Paris, carrying only a few clothes, a photo book and a self-produced demo. It was a decisive moment for Imany. A perilous one. She had just spent seven years in New York, working as a model. Tired to be a “human hanger”, she was determined to make herself a name in the music industry. She insists: she never considered herself as a model, so she felt she was ready for a new beginning.
She has no experience of the show business. A few songs only in her repertoire. Her entire stage experience could be written on a fingernail. But, with the help of her sister Fatou, she convinces the managers of several Parisian venues to give her a chance. As months go by, she performs at the Beau Lounge, at the Réservoir, at the Bellevilloise, and at the China Club. She “grows on stage”, she gets confident. The buzz amplifies via the Internet, first in Paris and then beyond. Her personal style blossoms. With a raw melancholy, her husky voice sways through folk melodies not unlike those in Tracy Chapman’s early albums. Slender and regal, she stands on stage, a reminiscence of Billie Holliday at Café Society, wearing an orchid in her hair. A startling combination of sobriety and glamour.
June 2008. Her performance at the Sentier des Halles in Paris captures Malick N’diaye attention. He’s the producer of Senegalese descent who discovered the singer Ayo. He encourages Imany to go on with her music, to write new pieces, to do more concerts. Soon, she’s opening for many artists in Paris. N’Dambi at the New Morning, Wasis Diop at the Cigale, Anthony Hamilton and Angie Stone at the Elysée Montmartre. She writes new songs, each one of them confirms the birth of an artist.
Summer of 2010. Imany is ready. She records her first work in the studio Question de Son. Some of the most famous musicians in Paris join her there: bass players Laurent Vernerey (Johnny Halliday, Alain Souchon, Benjamin Biolay…) and Stéphane Castry (Asa, Keziah Jones, Kassav’), percussionist Steve Shehan (Paul Simon, Paul Mc Cartney), keybords player Johann Dalgaard (Gaétan Roussel, Johnny Hallyday), drummer Latabi Diouani (Angélique Kidjo, Grace, Souad Massi), and cello player Valentine Duteil. Guitarists Taofik Farah (acoustic) and Stéphane Goldman (electric) complete the prestigious line- up.
Imany’s first album, “Shape of a broken heart”, produced by As’ (Grace, Wasis Diop), offers twelve gems written in English and reveals a singular performer. In her sensual, unique voice, pungent ginger melts with the sweetness of honey. The record paints the intimate portrait of an independent woman, a free
spirited soul. For Imany, every emotion is a gift, a token of uncompromising sincerity. In this array of captivating musical moments, she uses the right tone, she finds the right words to lift the veil of a profound truth. She tells the despair, the anger, the longings, the hopes and the wounds of Nadia, the girl she once was before she flew to New York.
Imany was born in France, one of the ten children of a family of Comorian descent. She spent her childhood in the Paris region where his father, an air force firefighter, was assigned to. The years spent in a military girl school taught her rigour, punctuality and self-sufficiency, three precious assets for her future career. When she was seventeen, she dreamed of becoming a journalist, but she would often imitate Whitney Houston in front of her mirror, using her hairbrush as a microphone.
But it’s finally fashion that chooses her, a little by accident, when she’s selected at a casting call. Soon, she’s “booked” by the biggest names in Milan, Cape Town, and New York where she settles. She’s nineteen, and her dream sometimes borders on a nightmare. Alone in the tentacular city, lost in a world of superficiality, Imany decides to twist her fate. She takes drama and singing lessons, and starts performing at « open mics ».
The honesty that lies in her voice, - the deep voice she was ashamed of at school, the voice that adds so much to her natural charm -, is a valuable key. It soon clears her way to prestigious venues, such as Galapagos in Brooklyn and Bitter End in Greenwich Village, where she performs a few covers and presents her first song, I Lost My Keys. The song is a message on a bottle which finds its way to the shore, allowing her to cling to her dream. She no longer wraps herself in the luxury fabrics of the couture dresses she used to model; it’s in her writing she lingers. Every day, she writes. She crafts songs, and short novels she hopes will be published one day.
A dazzling smile was once her passport to success, but what Imany offers now, through her twelve soul/folk flavoured ballads, comes from the most profound, the most intimate of her heart.
Imany’s first album is a journey through the landscape of her passionate soul, from the sullen truth of Where Have You Been, to the nostalgic romance of Kisses In The Dark. Showing proud, she fights her own feelings in the bluesy You Will Never Know. In Take Care, partly sung in Comorian, she appears peaceful, radiating with wisdom. But she’s always disarming, and in Shape of A Broken Heart emerges the light of the only beauty that never fades: the inner one.