Dakar native ILAM offers a universal form of music, like a deep vector of wisdom and sharing. Singing in Wolof, Fula, French and English is his way of transcending languages and breaking down barriers.
He began his career in Senegal with a local hip-hop group. His early recordings featured various styles: rap, acoustic and traditional sounds, showing a range of influences that will always define a sound that is his own.
He settled in Montréal in 2014 and soon made himself noticed, winning the audience Coup de Cœur and Spectra Team awards at the Vitrine MUZ 2014. With his distinctive and irresistible creative space, the title of Radio-Canada 2016-2017 world music Revelation would be added to an already impressive list. This broad recognition from audiences, critics and the musical world thrust his career forward and rewarded two years of work, an impressive journey for an artist who was still far from revealing the full extent of his talent.
These stage experiences, which were only the beginning, included participation in various events, establishing his status as a top-rank performer, with shows at the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the Francofolies, the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique and Montréal Symphonique marking Montréal’s 375th birthday alongside 400 musicians and great names such as Wyclef Jean.
In November 2016, he released his début album, Hope, a nomadic and urban offering that brought together Sahel blues and Afro-pop rock as well as accents of reggae and soul. Quickly recognized after its release, this album opened the doors to a Canadian tour. He also had the chance to perform internationally, with a tour in China.
His second album, Néné – “mother” in the Fula language – was released virtually on April 17, 2020, on the GSI Musique label. ILAM was actively involved in fulfilling this project, which included outstanding collaborations: Meta Dia (Justice) and Baaba Maal (Laram), as well as Yann Perreau and André Vanderbiest (Les Colocs). Offering a vibrant tribute to his mother and to his Senegalese homeland, Néné is personal and unifying, moving and exhilarating.
In this special edition of the Festival, ILAM will be taking to the stage of the National for the true launch of Néné before a live audience. The singer will be able to display the richness of his voice and of his emotions and his pieces for a heart-warming evening fit for dancing.