Stromae, the Brussels maestro
Paul Van Haver, to give him his real name, was born in Brussels in 1985 of a Rwandan father and a Belgian mother. His father died during the Rwandan genocide and his mother brought up her four children alone.
He began to take an interest in music at the age of 11, taking music theory and drum lessons at the Académie Musicale in Jette. After a short-lived duo with his friend Jedi, Stromae launched his solo career and began to perform. He worked to fund his film studies and collaborated with a number of local artists. He also broadcast videos on the Internet in which he explained his musical creations: Stromae's lessons.
During an internship at NRJ in Brussels in 2009, he became well known thanks to the song "Alors on danse", taken from his album Cheese. His success spread to other European countries in a matter of weeks and he was number one in France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and even in Quebec. In 2013, his second album Racine was a commercial success. The tour that followed made him internationally famous, with more than 200 dates in 25 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Canada and Russia.
Stromae has received a number of awards since he started out. In 2009, he received the NRJ Music Award for "French-speaking Belgian music revelation 2009". The following year he received the Music Industry Award for Alors on danse. In 2011, he won an Octave for Artist and Show of the Year; in 2013 the Festival International du Film Francophone in Namur judged Papaoutai the best video; he has also received other international awards and several Victoires de la Musique (a French award).
His music is influenced by electro, hip-hop and world music, but he is also heavily influenced by the Congolese music of his childhood. He tackles themes such as finding love again, abuse, faith and problems of modern society such as alienation, the absence of a father, North-South relations, excess and HIV. The secret of his talent and success undoubtedly lies in the way he tackles life's difficult subjects in a pleasant, lively way.
© Photo Dati Bendo