French star shines in Chinese sky
Updated: 2015-01-30 08:43
By Chen Yingqun(China Daily Europe)
The singer-actor had no idea how rewarding performing in China would be
When French actress Sophie Marceau appeared on China Central Television's traditional annual gala in 2014, she had the attention of more than a billion viewers.
But her performance, while reinforcing her popularity in the Middle Kingdom, also had a powerful effect on another French artist.
Patrick Bruel sings a Chinese folk song at the concert held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the French embassy. Provided to China Daily
Patrick Bruel, a French singer and film star who is not as well-known in China, says he was unaware of the possibility of having such a gigantic audience until he talked to Marceau.
"When I did a movie with Sophie Marceau, I spoke a lot with her about China, and I see what happened with her here," he says.
Bruel's recent concert tour included 150 cities in Europe, Canada and the Unites States. He did not include Asia, he says, because he didn't think there would be any interest. "If someone told me it was possible, I would definitely have come," he says.
Bruel just made his debut in China at a concert to celebrate 50 years of friendship between China and France, co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the French embassy in China, which aired on CCTV on Jan 18.
At the concert, he performed one traditional French song, "Comme d'habitude" ("My Way"), and sang a duo with Chinese singer Bo Wen on his "J'te L'dis Quand Meme" ("I'm Still Telling You"), and also on a Chinese folk song.
"Chinese artists are so professional, so amazing. This Chinese girl, she came and sang the song this afternoon with me, like she has sung the song all her life. She sang so well, very professionally."
Bruel says it was the first time that he had sung a Chinese song. He thought it was so difficult, but then his two sons, both of whom study Chinese at school, encouraged him a lot. His 11-year-old, younger son even recorded the Chinese version for him to show him how to do the pronunciation correctly.
Bruel says he first visited China in 2007 as a tourist. "It was a very nice, though very short trip. At that time, I said to myself, I really want to come back here. Then I waited and I got this fantastic opportunity to participate in this TV show. What was really interesting for me in this show is to share music and culture with Chinese people," he says.
Bruel says he had listened to the best music since he was very young because his mother has good taste in music. At around 5 or 6 years old, he started singing, then learned piano. He gradually began to write his own songs. Next he began his acting career.
Bruel is one of the more famous singers in French and is widely recognized for having revived classic songs in French on his album Entre Deux (Between Two) in 2002, which sold more than 3 million copies. He has sold more than 15 million albums altogether.
In Entre Deux, he recorded songs that were popular in the 1930s but with modern elements.
"Our tradition, our culture was very big in the '30s. We have such big, fantastic melodies, fantastic culture. We didn't try to be someone else - we are French. That is why we did the album, because we love the songs, and my whole country is crazy about the album," he says.
As a composer, Bruel frequently uses love stories to inspire his creativity.
"Like other artists, you take on inspiration from where you live. Especially when you are sad, it is easier to write songs. When you are happy, you have something better to do than writing songs. But when you are sad, it is good to write songs. Most of the songs in the story of music are about love, and some are about social inspirations, social problems," he says.
He says now that he has started working with Chinese companies, he will look for more opportunities in China, such as including China in his next world tour concert.
"I have the feeling that there is something for me to do here. Artistically, I can come and present the French identity, because I know that Chinese people like French culture very much, and not a lot of French artists have come here."
(China Daily European Weekly 01/30/2015 page29)