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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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In the wake of the success of Senegalese-born Akon on the U.S. charts, Somalia native K’NAAN and Rwandan-raised Corneille have emerged as fresh, important voices from Africa with two of the year’s most compelling releases.

Corneille, a major star in France, makes his English-language debut with a glistening set of sexy, sophisticated soul-pop that’ll win over fans of both Seal and George Michael. In fact, Corneille’s ultra-smooth delivery brings to mind a less raspy, more satiny version of Seal on lush midtempo gems like the jazz-kissed “Back to Life” and the acoustic-guitar-sweetened “A Man of This World.” Meanwhile he addresses the Rwandan genocide that claimed his family on the poignant ballad “I’ll Never Call You Home Again.”