Agnès Jaoui Canta

January 24, 2006By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture

The Joys of Jaoui

Jaoui’s first album is a fine showcase for her talent as a singer.

Actress, screenwriter and filmmaker Agnès Jaoui has taken on a new role, that of singer. Her first album, Canta (Tôt ou Tard; to be released on February 20), is a joy to listen to over and over, even for those unfamiliar with the various styles of Latin music she interprets (bolero, fado, bossa nova, canción, samba, etc.) with the help of topnotch Latin musicians and fellow singers.

Her voice seems particularly suited to popular Latin music, whose rhythms and melodies have long attracted her, an interest that was piqued by the music in the films of Pedro Almodovar and confirmed by a trip to Cuba nine years ago, even before Buena Vista Social Club brought Cuban music to the world’s attention.

Thankfully, Jaoui’s voice has none of the coy little-girl wispiness that the French seem to love in their female singers (e.g., Mylène Farmer, Vanessa Paradis). One would think she’d been singing all her life, and she has. She began studying classical singing at the age of 15 and continued at two conservatories in the Paris area before deciding to devote herself to theater and film. With her partner, Jean-Pierre Bacri, she has written and acted in a number of successful movies – including Le Goût des Autres (directed by Jaoui) and Un Air de Famille – that have their own special mix of humor, realism and charm.

Among the many talented musicians who play with her, two of the greats of the Latin music world have given their blessing to Jaoui’s enterprise by singing with her on this album: Brazilian Maria Bethânia on the haunting bossa nova number “Samba em Prelúdia” and Portuguese fado singer Mísia on “Fado do Retorno.”

Jaoui will perform at the Européen in Paris March 14, 15 and 16.

Heidi Ellison

L’Européen: 5 rue Biot, 75017 Paris. Métro: Place de Clichy. Tel: 01 43 87 97 13.

© 2006 Paris Update

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