Chanson & New Orleans: The French Connection

Chanson (French for “song”) refers to any song with French words, but more specifically classic, lyric-driven French songs, European songs in the cabaret style, or a diverse range of songs interpreted in this style. A singer specializing in chansons is known as a chansonnier.*

Coincidentally in early 2007 we discover some radical departures recordings from two major popular male and female artists that intersect at the point of chanson. The first artist, Belinda Carlisle, formerly of the 80’s female group the Go-Go’s and then a varied solo career has released a chanson recording entitled Voila on Rykodisc.

Belinda has been a 13 year resident of France, where we learn that the culture permeates her muse. Her first solo recording in 10 years is a tribute to the greatest French male and female chanson artists such as Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, Francois Hardy and Edith Piaf to name but a few on this winning experiment of style and substance. If you add the genius touch of Monsieur Brian Eno on keyboards you begin to fully decipher what magic is transgressing here.

The second artist to be on the listen for is Harry Connick Jr. Harry has been majorly involved in the resurrection and preservation of his beloved home town, New Orleans, Louisiana. The French Cajun stronghold of this beloved Crescent City holds the key to an additional experiment in historical culture. Chanson du Vieux Carre on Rounder Records. It was conceived as a companion recording to Harry Connick Jr.’s Oh My Nola, which contains the beautiful song , “All These People”. (Hear it here, you will be moved,

“The song is all about the people who were left stranded at the Convention Center, with the verses describing what I saw as I was taken through by a kind fellow I had met on the street earlier that day named Darryl.” Harry Connick Jr.

Chanson du Vieux Carre is a celebration instrumental recording. The album presents twelve big band tracks, including three penned by Connick, that effectively explore the diverse tapestry of New Orleans’ native music.**

(A portion of all proceeds from the album will be donated to New Orleans Habitat Musicians’ Village, a wonderful giving project established by Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis to provide affordable housing for displaced musicians and other families)


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