Francophone Funk

French harmonica player Frédéric Yonnet reverses the cultural migration pattern, bringing French soul to U.S. shores.


Just as we have all heard Billie Holiday play “God Bless the Child” so have others across an ocean. And how beautiful it is to hear the tune played without words with the harmonica capturing every nuance of blues feeling that only Billie Holiday can pull off. 

“I want to expand the perceptions of the instrument” Yonnet told me. “It’s a toy that I must convince everyone that it’s an instrument, and it’s possible to create music with and make a living.” 

As Stevie Wonder once said, “music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.” Watching Yonnet perform proves that maybe blackness is large enough to reach across an ocean.  

Abdul Ali is a freelance writer living in Washington D.C.