Long before she married French President Nicholas Sarcozy, Carla Bruni had an enormously successful career as a model, singer-songwriter and actress. She has returned to her first love; writing songs and performing. Carla will be performing with her band in Montreal on February 18 at The Olympia as part of an extended North American tour.

During our recent conversation, she told me that music has always been her first love. “I played my guitar and wrote songs before I became a model and I never gave it up. Music gives me an opportunity to express myself; much more than wearing someone else’s fashion design on a runway or in a photo shoot. When I’m performing, I’m more vulnerable than walking a fashion runaway in a bikini – because I’m opening my heart to the audience.”

“Being the First Lady of France was interesting, a great honour. However, I always had concerns about security. Would my man come home to me, would he survive the day…”

“Music is the story of my life. Both my parents were musicians, my father a modern classical composer and my mother a concert pianist.” Carla has sold over three million albums with her own songs written in French. “I met David Foster after he came to my Los Angeles show. He said that he liked my voice and that he wanted to work with me on an album recorded in English. I didn’t believe that I had the vocabulary to write in English; so we agreed that I’d record songs by other artists.”

After listening to several songs on French Touch, her latest album and first produced by David Foster, I came to understand why Carla Bruni is so popular. Her arrangements are sparse – the song lyrics easy to follow and to appreciate the poetry. When she sings, Carla is singing to people in the audience individually, not the audience as a group. She’s delivering the message of the song and it’s melody to me. Yes – there are people all around me in this theatre – but she’s singing to me. I’m sure of it.

A good example is Carla’s version of the ABBA hit, The Winner Takes It All. The lyrics describe a sad breakup – the end of a love affair. ABBA’s version has an upbeat party quality to it, and the lyrics of this eloquently sad song are lost. In Carla’s version, we can hear the lyrics and the personal hurt and disappointment being expressed.

The rest of the album spans the gamut from rock classics (The Rolling Stones’ Miss You, Lou Reed’s A Perfect Day) to old standards (Moon River, Love Hurts, Crazy), but all the tracks share a quality of, as Carla aptly describes, “intimacy.”

Carla has been writing and performing music since 1997, with her first album, Quelqu’un m’a dit (Someone Told Me), being released in 2002. Since then she has had 3 more critically acclaimed releases,  including 2007’s, No Promises, which set English poems to music, 2008’s Comme si de rien n’était (As If Nothing Happened), and 2013’s Little French Songs, and her current album French Touch.

Carla Bruni will be appearing on Sunday, February 18 at 8 pm at L’Olympia. Tickets are: $89.50, $74.50, $59.50 and $49.50 (taxes included / service charge extra). Tickets are available at L’Olympia, 1004 Ste-Catherine E., at 514-845-3524 #1 and www.olympiamontreal.com

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