Meet Isaac and Nora, Two French Kids Who Are Big on Latin American Music: NPR

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For a month, Isaac and Nora have been on tour in Latin America. They are accompanied by their parents.

Ximena and Sergio


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Ximena and Sergio


For a month, Isaac and Nora have been on tour in Latin America. They are accompanied by their parents.

Ximena and Sergio

About 1,000 people came to see Isaac and Nora on a recent Saturday night at the Sala Cantoral in Mexico City. The audience was mesmerized throughout the concert, especially when Nora spoke to them in Spanish. She told the audience, “It’s the first time I’ve ever sung and played by myself. I’m going to sing a song by Violeta Parra called Return to Los 17 and it’s kind of weird that I’m singing a song about turning 17 when I’m only 10.”

It has not always been so. Isaac and Nora’s father, Nicolas Restoin says he still remembers when they posted the video for the song Vein Anos on Youtube, end of June 2019. “I think it’s a very important date in our lives because everything has changed. It has changed the way we play music.”

Vein Anos was watched by millions of people on social media.

Youtube

They learned Spanish two years ago and play music by ear

Isaac and Nora and their parents are from Quimper, a small town in Brittany, in northwestern France. Nora sings lead vocals and plays ukulele, while Isaac plays trumpet and provides background vocals. Their father plays guitar and leads the band. All have learned Spanish within the past two years.

Restoin attended music school in France but said he wanted a different experience for his children. “Isaac and Nora can’t read music, they don’t know music theory, they do everything by ear.”

Over the years, Nora’s mother has fallen in love with Latin American classics. That’s how they started playing the song Vein Anos. A few months after the video for this song went viral, they recorded their first album titled Latin and love studies. The album includes classics, such as Brazil’s Carnival ManhaColombia Arroz with Cocoand Cuba Cuarto de Tula. But there is also a pop song by Mexican Natalia Lafourcade called Hasta la Raiz.

Nicolas Restoin concedes that his children, Isaac and Nora, are not masters. But they play from the heart.

Youtube

Restoin said it might seem like they’re trying to bring back old songs so a new audience can enjoy them, but their song selection is completely random. “The truth is that it’s the music, before the words of the author or the meaning of the lyrics, it’s the melody, the rhythm, the mood that a song can create. That’s what matter to us.”

Isaac and Nora sold out in Mexico City

There may be naivety in the choice of songs, but the sold out audience in Mexico couldn’t get enough of Isaac and Nora. After the concert, the two children expressed their enthusiasm with a certain humility.

“People are so kind and caring. The concert at Sala Cantoral was amazing, before we went on stage people were already screaming,” Isaac said.

“Although it can be daunting to play for the first time in all these great Latin American theaters, the public receives us with so much love, it is reassuring and gives us strength,” adds Nora.

Critics said Nora and Isaac have room to grow, but their album is fresh and endearing.

Ximena and Sergio


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Ximena and Sergio


Critics said Nora and Isaac have room to grow, but their album is fresh and endearing.

Ximena and Sergio

Mary Farquharson, director of an independent label in Mexico City, attended the concert. She said: “Nora had the audience spellbound from the minute she stepped on stage, in her very pretty knee-length velvet dress and her hair in a ponytail looking a lot like a 10-year-old. She made the public eat outside. his hand before opening the voice.”

Farquharson said it’s hard for kids to go from viral stars to serious performers in the entertainment industry, but she thinks Isaac and Nora are prepared for it.

Isaac and Nora wrap up their first Latin American tour with two shows in Santiago, Chile this weekend. Both shows are sold out.

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