IAM and Magic System to Play a Free French Music Concert in NYC

Concert stage in Central Park

Between “Mia” and “Magic in the Air,” we’ll be dancing in Central Park on July 14th! The annual Bastille Day festival, organized by the Consulate General of France in New York, in association with SummerStage and the Committee of French-Speaking Associations of New York (CAFUSA), is back with a festive program. IAM, Magic System, The Avener, Laurie Darmon, and Femi the Scorpion will take to the stage at the Rumsey Playfield.

Bringing New Yorkers Together

“The festival showcases French and Francophone music,” explains Damien Laban, Acting Consul General. “The artists we’ve chosen have a wide range of styles, because we want to bring all New Yorkers together. But they all have one thing in common: their talent has left its mark on France. They are wonderful ambassadors of our French and Francophone culture. We’re so proud of them!”

The Marseillaise accent will resonate in the heart of Central Park, as IAM celebrates its 35th anniversary in New York, the group’s birthplace. It was here where one of IAM’s founders, Akhenaton, first discovered hip-hop in the 1980s. This movement remains at the heart of the group’s twelfth and most recent album, “HHHistory” (“Hip Hop History”), released on vinyl in December 2023.

The Ivorian zouglou group Magic System will also perform, having made generations of dancers dance to their upbeat, coupé-décalé-sounding rhythms, with songs like “Ambiance à l’africaine,” “Chérie Coco,” and “Magic in the Air.”

As for the other Bastille Day performers, The Avener, has become one of the most talented representatives of the French electro scene. Laurie Darmon generates several million listens for her pop melodies, and young Beninese artist Femi The Scorpion is well known for regularly getting thousands of Parisians to dance in the street. For these musicians, performing in the United States is an amazing opportunity for cultural enrichment, and it also enables them to make a name for themselves beyond the borders of France. North America represents a market worth almost 70 million euros for the French music industry (between recorded music and concerts), or over 20% of total export volume.

“French culture is highly appreciated by Americans,” notes Damien Laban. “The cultural services of the French Embassy, within the Villa Albertine, work every day to promote it here in the United States, particularly in the field of music. Large-scale events like Bastille Day contribute to these efforts, by giving our French talent greater visibility with the general public.” Last year, over 6,000 people attended the festival, showing that the efforts of these groups is not going to waste!

The 4th Bastille Day at SummerStage

“This festival is now a tradition,” insists Laban. “This is the fourth time since 2021 that we’ve organized this event to celebrate our national holiday on the SummerStage stage, in the heart of Central Park. Our aim is to bring together all the French people of New York to experience a beautiful moment of national unity in an iconic and festive setting. But we also want to include our American friends in this celebration.”

Admission to the festival is free and open to all, without prior registration. “We want all New Yorkers to experience an unforgettable evening of celebration, French-style,” Laban continues. This year, July 14th falls on a Sunday, and the evening will run from 5pm to 10pm, accessible via the entrance at 72nd Street and 5th Avenue. Mark your calendars!

This article was originally published in French on French Morning. It has been translated by Catherine Rickman.

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