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Yannick Noah

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Yannick Noah is a former tennis player who, notably, won the French Open in Roland Garros. A French singer-songwriter from Cameroon and France, he has managed to become a respected artist, singing largely inoffensive pop songs with a slight reggae side to them.

Born in the French town of Sedan on 18 May 1960, Yannick Noah grew up with a rich mixed African and European culture at home, living with his Cameroonian father, Simon, and French mother, Marie-Claire. The family returned to Cameroon in Yannick’s early childhood after his father, a professional football player, was seriously injured in an accident. The Noahs took up residence in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, in 1963, but retained close links to France throughout their stay.

Listening to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley in his teenage years, Yannick soon developed a real passion for music. But the young teenager also appeared to have inherited his father’s sporting talent. Yannick proved to be an absolute wizard on the tennis court and, encouraged by a couple of teachers, he spent hours on the courts training his front and backhand. His long hours of training were soon rewarded, too. Yannick’s talent was spotted by legendary American tennis star Arthur Ashe and he won a return ticket to France, where he got the benefit of a professional coaching-and-education programme at the French Tennis Federation in Nice.

Spending long months away from his family and friends back in Cameroon weighed heavily on the 11-year-old’s shoulders, but his passion for music helped him overcome these early years of exile and solitude. And the intensive training proved worth it in the end.

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