Next month, on Sunday, October 2, I will be participating in the annual Jazz Marathon of WTJU in Charlottesville, VA. Ever since I moved to this area, I have loved this public radio station, because they play a great variety of jazz on a daily basis. Another thing I really like about WTJU is that it is run by volunteers, people from the community who all greatly care about the radio station that is owned by the University of Virginia.
The Jazz Marathon is one of WTJU's major fundraisers each year. Donations from the community of Charlottesville and beyond allow the station to keep going strong. The more listeners who pledge their support, the better programs they can make at WTJU.
This year the Jazz Marathon will be held from September 26 through Sunday, October 2nd. During this week there will be great jazz on the radio all day long, in a variety of shows. And then there are broadcasts from the studio: local jazz cats like Bobby Read, Greg Howard, and Gina Sobel are among the musicians performing live, making this jazz week truly special.
To conclude the week, I will be performing "From Piaf to Porter" with a new band in The Southern Café and Music Hall on Sunday afternoon, October 2nd, from 4 - 6 pm.
Accompanying me for this special theater show are Gérard Brikkenaar van Dijk on piano, Bob Bowen on bass, Bill Edmonds on guitar, and David Drubin on drums. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to WTJU. The show will be broadcast live on the air and over the internet, but hope to greet many music lovers at The Southern on October 2nd!
For more information and tickets, click here.
A while ago I got an email from a fan, asking me if I have lyrics and translations in English for the songs from my CD “Chez Moi”. She wanted to teach her 8-year-old granddaughter to sing along with the CD, thus practicing her French. What a great idea!
Coincidentally, I was just working on a new page on my website, for lyrics, translations and related topics. While I think it is not necessary to understand a language in order to appreciate the sound of it, a song can get a deeper meaning if the listener truly knows what it is about.
It gets even better, when you know what the writer wanted to say with the lyrics, as I do with the songs that my French friend François Tremouille wrote for me. Two of them, “Certains Jours” and “Les Mots” are among my favorites.
So, as I am getting back to class with the Alliance Française to keep getting better at French, I hope my songs - both original and covers of old-time favorites - will inspire others to get to know more about this beautiful language.
Please visit the Lyrics page for the first two songs from the CD with translations. It will be updated regularly!
The Best Of Both Worlds
This month, I was in The Netherlands for two weeks on a little networking trip. I went there with an open mind, hoping to make some connections that may help me realize my wish to bring the "Piaf to Porter" show to a broader audience in Europe next year.
As it turned out, the trip was more successful than I could have hoped for: not only did I make all the connections I wanted, but also got the promise of help with promotion from several people in the music business, including two national radio hosts.
While talking to these people, I started to realize that I truly have the best of both worlds. I am getting the opportunity to share what I have learned about music while living in the US with audiences in Europe. And, I am doing so by presenting the songs that I love in a perfect marriage of language and culture.The music of the great French composers Michel Legrand, Charles Trenet, Jacques Brel, and Edith Piaf meld seamlessly with the tunes of American legends Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer.
I feel very fortunate to be able to perform on both sides of the ocean. The music is the same here as it is there, but the presentation is a little different, and so is the audience, which makes it new and interesting all the time. Therefore I am getting the best of both worlds!
A while ago, the Charlottesville Jazz Society invited me to perform for their “Artist/Educator” series, a monthly event in which local musicians share their music and experiences. The invitation surprised me a little bit, because I don’t consider myself a jazz singer. However, the guys I play with are all jazzmen and what we do together is an effort to highlight the French influence on the American Songbook. Our show, titled “From Piaf to Porter”, contains old and more contemporary tunes that have become popular on both sides of the ocean. Songs that cross generations and continue to appeal to a large audience.
The meaning of jazz is open to many interpretations and I don’t want to enter that debate with a pretense of having something to add. But I know that jazz fans by nature have a flexible ear and open mind to different styles of music. Therefore, I am actually honored by CJS’s invitation and look forward to showcasing what we did in France and the Netherlands during our first and highly rewarding tour last month. I hope many will come to the Tin Whistle and help the Charlottesville Jazz Society continue to broaden its foot print in this town.
"From Piaf to Porter", with Bob Bowen on bass, Gérard Brikkenaar van Dijk on piano, Matty Metcalfe on accordion and Rick Olivarez on guitar
Charlottesville Jazz Society Artist/Educator Performance
Tin Whistle Pub
609 E Market St, Charlottesville
Monday, May 23 from 7 - 8.30
"Chez Moi", the title of my latest album, literally came to life when I arrived in Besançon, France two weeks ago for my first foreign tour in more than 15 years. In the company of Matty Metcalfe, Rick Olivarez and my husband Gérard, our five days in France and four in The Netherlands turned out to be an important - if not life changing - experience. By performing with three of France's greatest talents (Damien Groleau on piano, Vladimir Torres on bass and Tom Moretti on drums) I realized that I had come home, mentally and musically.
Besançon has stolen my heart. The new friends, the architecture, the food, even two days of rain made it such a special treat. Four well-attended shows, two radio appearances, and being on the evening news at TV 3, all instigated by the irreplaceable Jean Eberhard, grad student Loic Mazet and Quentin Juy of Theatre Le Scènacle. I am also very grateful to Lou Thomazo, the hosts Marie, Val, and Marie Claude; the students – Vanessa and Clara in particular - and last, but not least, Deputy Mayor Madame Solange Joly, who threw a wonderful welcoming reception at City Hall. When we left for The Netherlands late Friday afternoon, we all realized that Charlottesville’s twin city is a second home to which we hope to return frequently.
To hear our performance on Radio France Bleu with Thierry Eme, broadcast on April 17, click here (for an iTunes version, click here). To hear our interview on Radio Campus, click here.
For the first time since I moved to the US I did two shows in my old home town, The Hague. These turned out to be cherry on my already delicious cake. After Damien and Vladimir came by train from France two hours before our first show, my all-time favorite Dutch drummer André Hoekstra arrived. The professionalism, concentration, and interaction between the musicians created enormous synergy, while André provided the rhythm to my rhyme.
I had never felt like this before. “I have seen you perform a lot”, one person in the audience told me afterwards, “but I have never seen you so much in your comfort zone.” I had the time of my life, realizing that this is what “coming home” means. I am doing what I love, singing songs I am passionate about in a language that suits me, and with the best musicians and friends in the world. This is where I feel at home, or “Chez Moi”.
PS: I would like to thank the following people, who made the Holland trip unforgettable: Dick Keulemans, who hosted our French friends and whose Mallemolen Theater is a hidden gem; my daughter Anne, for inviting the Americans into her home and for being our lovely host at the concerts; Jeroen Minkema for lending us his beautiful piano; and my brother’s wife Mar, for all she means to me.
But most of all, I would like to thank our audiences in France and in Holland!
Besançon, je t'aime!
Is it possible to fall in love with a city in just two days? I know it is! Last month I was in Besançon, France for 48 hours and now I can't wait to get back. The capital of the Franche-Comté and birth place of Victor Hugo may just be the best kept secret of the eastern region. The city has a beautiful historic downtown with charming squares, streets with cobble stones and 18th century buildings that make you feel like you have been transported back in time. In a good way, that is.
I was in the city to promote my music tour that will take place in April of this year to celebrate 10 years of friendship between Besançon and my hometown, Charlottesville. I met and played music with local musicians, talked about my new CD and the music tour on Radio France Bleu (listen to it in French here), spoke with newspaper reporters (read it in French here), received the 'Clef de la Ville' (key to the city) from the deputy mayor, and got to know a little bit of the city, with the help of my good friends over there. The Bisontins - that is the name for the inhabitants of Besançon - went out of their way to make my two-day trip worth every minute. Thanks to my French "road manager," Jean, who tirelessly worked to get me from one place to the other on time, I can look back on a very successful promotion trip.
Our meetings took place in the theater where we will perform some of the concerts, Le Scènacle. It is located in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, at the base of La Citadelle, Besançon's famous fortress that was designed by Louis XIV's architect Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban. Part of the theater is a beautiful little chapel that dates back to 1875, which is a cool place for receptions and concerts as well. Founder Quentin Juy, who came to Charlottesville a couple of years ago with theater group Bacchus, will be our generous host when we play at Le Scènacle in April.
It is very exciting to think that in less than two months, I will be traveling to France with band members Matty and Rick, to perform with our colleagues from Besançon, in an ultimate musical liaison, worthy of 10 years of friendship between Charlottesville and her sister city.
Stay tuned for more, as I will be reporting - live - from France this spring!
Happy New Year!
At the beginning of each new year I am filled with an excitement unlike anything else. It’s as if it is not just January, and life goes on as it did yesterday, but it seems as if a world of opportunities lies in front of me, all waiting to be played with. “Hello,” to new adventures!
Some people say: “Out with the old, in with the new”. I like to think that what is in the past can be the foundation of the new. So for me, it is more like: Cherish the old and make it new!
My recently released album “Chez Moi" for instance, has a selections of songs that are among my favorite French classics and most of them stem from a different era. Some are over eighty years old! As the band and I looked at that ‘old’ material from a different angle, a new sound emerged. I believe it offers a fresh and modern appeal to listeners of all ages and backgrounds.
As the album is now available on iTunes, CD Baby and other websites, I am eager to play the music on stage and share it with my audience. I will be traveling to France at the end of the month to visit venues and meet with musicians for my upcoming tour in April. A CD release party in my hometown Charlottesville, VA is also in the works. I am indeed bubbling with excitement as all these things unfold!
Stay tuned for all the new that is to come…..
….. and a very Happy New Year to you all!
Please click below to listen to Jardin d’Hiver (“Winter Garden) from Chez Moi…. enjoy!
New Album in the Works
Over the summer, I have been preparing for my new album Chez Moi, which we recorded in Charlottesville, VA on September 13. In one word, the recording session was “magical,” a day in which all of the musicians in the band were completely in tune with one another, creating a rare synergy. I could not be more proud of what we accomplished, and I am eager to share it with the world.
The crowning moment and ultimate reward will come next April, when I will travel to Besançon, France, to perform music from the new album and to celebrate the culture and arts of original French and American music. How exciting it will be to have people sing along with tunes they know so well—and then to be taken by surprise as I sing them in different languages!
More information on Chez Moi coming soon!
Music: A Universal Language
I am excited about the new year. It started off just right, and so many good things are coming my way.
Although I sometimes feel discouraged and saddened by what is going on in the world, I am grateful for the opportunities to share my music with a growing audience.
Music has the ability to bring people together. People may have different views and lifestyles, but through music there is a way for them to get to know and understand each other. “Music is the universal language of (hu)mankind”, stated 19th-century American poet and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The quote has never had more meaning for me than today.
A little tune we played recently with the quartet on WTJU radio is “Les Mots,” an original by François Trémouille and Lené te Voortwis. I particularly love this song, not only for its worldly quality, but also for the beautiful phrasing. “Les Mots” is about how words can fail to describe the beauty of another person–how sometimes there are no words, only feelings. It also makes me want to get up and dance. And that is never a bad thing!
A Fine Show
“We were at the Blues Alley show three years ago and don’t want to wait that long again–thank you for a fine show!” is a comment that appeared in Paulien’s inbox only moments after her latest show in Washington, DC on November 17, 2014.
Indeed, after a three-year absence, Paulien made her third appearance at one of the nation’s finest jazz venues, Blues Alley. What a night! Clubs are not the easiest to fill on a Monday, especially one as dreary and wet as the night of Paulien’s performance. Yet, it was a nearly sold-out house and attracted a discerning audience who came to see her show, which was almost exclusively in French and supported by superb musicians from the DC area and her home town, Charlottesville.
What makes such rare appearances by Paulien so special is that she is one of the few singers who shows clear appreciation and respect for her audience and accompanying musicians, with never a moment of self-indulgence, arrogance, endless solos or long waits. She did not merely sing her repertoire of French classics, but performed each as though she were telling a very personal story. And because it was also her birthday, she treated the audience at the end to 250 homemade French macarons, adding a nice little touch to the end of a very special evening…”A fine show!”
A place for me (and occasionally a guest author) to share news and updates, as well as other various thoughts and musings.