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Majnun

Madness is the freedom not to be understood. It’s everywhere normality and reason don’t hold sway.

Born into a family of musicians, Majnun is a singer from Orléans with an eclectic style that can’t be pinned down. His goal is to lift people’s minds so that they can commune through music. 

Updated on 18/06/2021

2 min

Djibril Sarr, alias Majnun (“the madman” in Arabic), was born in Senegal in 1981 to a family of musicians. He was 17 years old when his older brother, philosopher and economist Felwine Sarr, sent him a guitar from France. “My brother and I learned to play it. It was then that music really started for us.” Two years later, Majnun left Senegal for Orléans to study law, which he soon gave up to devote himself to music.

He then joined the reggae group Dolé, led by his brother Felwine Sarr, helping him establish a network in the eclectic Orléans scene. Determined to forge his own path, he then adopted the stage name Majnun, concentrating on his own compositions from then on. Little by little, he put together a cast of musicians with diverse backgrounds and styles, the Black-Magic Sofas Sofas, before releasing his first album, Kindépili (“pure heart” in Dogon), in 2017.

 

Majnun got his name from Sufi literature; it conjures the idea of a man enamoured with the absolute. Adamant that music can bring people together much better than ideas, Majnun thinks of his concerts as “healing ceremonies”. The Black-Magic Sofas Sofas, his concert backing group, act as “warrior-healers”: their name is a throwback to the Mandinka warriors who guarded the borders of the Mali Empire under Sundiata Keita.

Their music is a vibrant mixture of languages (Wolof, Serer, French, Lingala) and styles. Even so, Majnun refuses to let himself be locked into an identity, and thinks that the label of “world music” boxes artists into overly standardised creations. Reaffirming his will to remain independent on several occasions, he has so far refused to play with any major artists.

 

Majnun began the collaborative and participatory “Décolonial Tour” in West Africa in 2019. It brought him to several Instituts français where he gave workshops and master classes. These initiatives, intended for a younger audience, are part of his wish to “decolonise minds”, which he thinks of not as a political project but as a spiritual journey and a necessary reconnection with his own roots. On stage, he performs with half his face in make-up to symbolise the duality of the world, its positive and negative aspects. The recorded “Décolonial Tour” concerts should be released in a live album this year. 

Majnun & the black-magic sofas sofas - La Mélodie du Loiret
Majnun & the black-magic sofas sofas - La Mélodie du Loiret
  • 1981

    1981

    Born in Senegal.

  • 1998

    1998

    His brother, famous musician and economist Felwine Sarr, sends him a guitar from France.

  • 2000

    2000

    Majnun comes to Orléans and abandons his studies in 2008 to devote himself to music.

  • 2017

    2017

    Release of his first album, Kindépili.

  • 2019

    2019

    The “Décolonial Tour” stops off at several Instituts français in West Africa.

The Institut français and the artist

Supported by the Institut français, Majnun will make the first stop on his African tour for the Fête de la Musique (Music day). 

 

Majnun will also participate in the creation of the author Felwine Sarr, Liberty, I will have lived your dream until the last evening, during the Festival d'Avignon where the Institut français will organise its Focus "spectacle vivant" (performing arts) from 7-11 July, 2021.

Find out more about the Focus "spectacle vivant"

L'institut français, LAB