On Saturday night, Carla wore black leather pants and a red velvet jacket.
She played the guitar and two musicians accompanied her.
People who don’t like Carla say she has no voice.
Her fans talk of her angel voice, a breeze more than a tone.
The woman called ‘la chanteuse’ or the singer, by the French people when she took them by surprise with the outstanding success of her first album, remains a multi faceted woman.
Living so far from France, both geographically and emotionally, I had completely missed Carla Bruni’s landmark album.
It’s only when I heard the hit single “Quelqu’un m’a dit” in California cafés, years after its release, that I noticed Carla Bruni.
She says that for a song music is more important than lyrics, but her lyrics caught my attention before her music.
I immediately loved her unexpected way to associate words. I thought of the American expression ‘mix and match.’
It is in fact in English, sprinkled with a few French words, reminding of her song Little French Songs, also the title of her latest album, that Carla Bruni chose to address her L.A. public.
Since my departure from France, I favor French songs that blend words to music in an original way, as well as the ones that honor the big names of the French Chanson.
In fact, in the US, Little French Songs can be found with the major French singers who have made the reputation of the infamous little French songs.
The privilege of an artist is to choose her battles. Carla Bruni chose hers. She sings love. Love and more love.
Either in L’Amoureuse, Salut Marin, Darling, or Dolce Francia, she sings about romantic love, siblings’ love, friendship, and the affection for the adoptive land.
It’s a pretty good choice to sing about love. Of all human feelings, love is the most universal. And Carla Bruni knows something about universality, too.
Because of her birth in Italy, her move to France as a young child, and her international career in modeling she can communicate in several languages and weave through her songs the deepest and simplest experiences of human life.
Prior to the concert, I had expected to bump into a theater full of my former fellow French citizens, so I had prepared myself to spirited Gallic conversations, slipping in higher heels to add a je ne sais quoi to my skinny jeans.
In reality, on my right, on my left, in front of me, behind me, everyone was American.
I should have guessed, considering the courtesy and smiles of the people of all genders and ages who took their seats in the amphitheater.
However, it’s not until Carla Bruni asked if there were any French in the audience and I heard the distinct sound of my husband’s and my voice that I realized that 80% of the audience wasn’t French at all.
Once, I heard Zaz express her initial surprise when she met her passionate fans in South America. Zaz attracts Francophiles who love the French language and moreover the music of the French words in songs. Carla Bruni shares this magnetic pull.
I’m neither Carla nor Zaz – even less when I sing – but once in a while someone will ask me to say something in French for the sheer pleasure of the sound, exotic and charming, to a foreign ear.
I avoid heated debate about politics on my blog, but whenever Carla Bruni is mentioned, her famous husband is never far.
François Mitterrand was still the President of France when I left, and although I love my native country, I prefer to be involved in the American politics since I live in the States.
So Nicolas Sarkozy’s presence in the audience wasn’t the reason I was there.
Often, though, I’ve wondered how the spouses of Presidents, Prime Ministers or Chancellors manage to put their careers on hold during their spouses’ mandates.
In the case of Carla Bruni, being the First Lady for five years hasn’t tampered her musical creativity.
On Saturday night, accompanied by the talented Taofik Farah at the guitar and Cyril Barbessol at the piano, keyboard, trumpet, and bugle, she offered her audience a selection from her three first albums and sang most of the latest, which I find especially great. The critics agree that it is Carla Bruni’s most accomplished album.
As for Nicolas Sarkozy, he enjoyed his own success when he took his seat in the center of the amphitheater, escorted by French and American secret service agents amid the applause of the crowd. I was told that after the concert he shook hands, signed autographs, and agreed to be photographed.
I’d have rather talked to Carla after the encore.
She sang, down on her knees, Prière (Prayer), one of my most favorite songs and La Dernière Minute, (The Last Minute), a song I didn’t know.
I would have asked for another minute, too, but Carla Bruni was gone, dressed in leather and velvet, reminding me of her personal evocation of Marianne Faithful in her song Keith et Anita.
P.S. The two pictures of Carla Bruni are from my husband and his Leica.