Many artists backing up the “Sing more in French before you make it” line of thought are those who have sang in French and are successful. They followed that path and have actually made money from it.
They have success stories to tell the younger ones about their past, how they had a small “Anglophone” audience when singing in English but immediately they started singing in French, they had a bigger audience and started getting gigs and shows in the different French speaking towns in Cameroon.
You really can’t blame them. There is a big difference between the music theory we preach online and what actually happens on the ground, or what happens at the level of the successful record labels. We preach a lot of “what should be” according to norms or standards but I’m fully aware that it happens much differently on the ground because of the difference in cultures, laws, environment, language etc.
I’ve been at the forefront among those bashing artists not to sing in French but most times, my problem is usually the poor French and not the use of French itself. I will still tell any artist any day to learn the language very well before using it in their songs so that they should be able to express themselves in it when they meet the French fans during their shows and concerts.
The reality is that Cameroon is more dominated by the French and these artists will be forced to sing in French to satisfy the French audience. I know many will say that the French audience also listen to and love artists from Nigeria and other countries…. But remember, they didn’t make these artists famous. The French audience in Cameroon did not make Wizkid or Davido famous. They fought hard and earned the status of local celebrity before going International. When you are famous, your popularity will quickly cut across different countries through digital media and other forms of communication.
The biggest artists we see internationally received love and support from their home audience at the early stages of their careers. They filled stadiums, halls, concerts etc in their local communities, towns and in the biggest stages in their countries before the International labels, sponsors and show promoters came calling.
Many of the successful English speaking Cameroonian artists were not patient enough for this to happen to them so they chose the quick road to success or what we call “Rush to fame”. They couldn’t get the outdoor support and love from their local communities (Bamenda, Buea and Limbe) like they saw French speaking artists getting in towns like Yaounde and Douala. So they were forced, or quick minded to incorporate French in their songs and enforced promotion strategies in the French media and penetrated the highly populated French speaking audience.
This is where we are” The English fans may not like this. The English media may not like it, but the minute anyone tries to have a critical look at things in the industry, he may see reason with the artists as explained in the above. The main pillar, Government and ministry of culture which has to at least ensure the success of the artists and culture for the most part has failed. No laws, no regulations, no royalties, no support on the industry leaving the artists to fetch for themselves.