Is French chanson dead? Not according to Caroline Nin, who is thriving and singing around the world in the French chanson tradition (think Edith Piaf). I had a chance to catch up with Caroline in between her gigs and chat about music and Paris.
Caroline was raised in Paris and then spent a block of time in London to study jazz, and she has just returned to the City of Light after a three-year stint in Australia, singing to sold-out auditoriums of 1,000 people or more. Currently she is singing at the Lido six nights a week, keeping the flame alive. She is about to take her show on the road to New York, Toronto and London in the fall, but before then she hopes to open an Edith Piaf review in the Marais, at a venue near the Pompidou—a show she’s been refining for years and singing to huge audiences down under.
Nin started in the music business back in the late 1980s in Paris, at the Hollywood Savoy, as a waitress who sang. Believe it or not, it was a very chic place where stars would gather. She went on to smaller jazz clubs and slowly moved her way up while living in New York, London and Australia.
I asked her who her favorite singers are, and she noted Barbara, the French chanteuse; Juliette Gréco; and Marlene Dietrich, who, Nin said, was the Madonna of her era. “I like to put on Air for some ambient music after being with the orchestra at the Lido,” she said. She likes what she calls the dark-angel sound. Other singers she enjoys are Amy Winehouse, Chet Baker and Dina Washington.
Soon Nin will be moving from the Bastille to Montmartre, which is now her favorite area in Paris. I asked her what haunts she would recommend there. “I love to take visitors for a glass of champagne to the Moulin de la Galette, because they can’t believe there are still windmills in Paris. The newer resto Verjus is a favorite. For cabaret I love La Bonne Franquette, because it’s more affordable than the Lapin.” In response to my question about where she likes to shop, Caroline noted, “Kiliwatch on Montorgueil is great for new and vintage finds, plus of course I love the concept stores Merci and Colette.”
Her albums have a sultry, sexy, very Parisian sound, and I urge you to download one of them tout de suite. Or better yet, check her out at the Lido when you are in Paris next or watch for her in London, New York or Sydney this year. Keeping the brilliance of French chanson alive is important for French culture, and Caroline is doing it with real flair.
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