Monday, April 9, 2018

True French Cabaret

Charles Aznavour must be as close to Ground Zero for the origins of cabaret in our lifetime. He is certainly the last living legend that truly "lived in the day!" He was discovered over 70 years ago by Edith Piaf, the grandest chanteuse of them all and has spent his entire career performing in small rooms and concert halls across the globe. This glorious retrospective begins talking about his ability to transform from his wiry 90 year old frame into an icon when he takes the stage and finds his light. He speaks about his touring, a new album, but the centerpiece are the 12,000 songs he has written over his life. Yes - that is a correct number!

Old hand: Aznavour at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959

As does any cabaret artist, the work is often about revealing glimpses of oneself. In regard to the above mentioned songs; “everyone mistook them and said, ‘Ah, you are telling your story.’ It was not true. But after years, I found that finally – without knowing it, without trying to – I had written my life.” He starts with reference to his Armenian roots, parents en route to America, but getting stranded in Paris where he was ultimately born. Being from a musical family, he began dancing but by age 15 he was singing in the nightclubs of Montparnasse. Despite success across continents at a young age, he quoted “My shortcomings are my voice, my height, my gestures, my lack of culture and education, my frankness and my lack of personality.” What prompted this brutal self-analysis? “I wanted to know who I was. Before presenting yourself to the public, you have to know who you are. Your faults and your abilities – and often you should keep the faults, which can be very spectacular, and avoid some of the good things. Even now, I’m in search of who I am.” 

These are all remarkable quotes for cabaret artists on our ques to reveal ourselves on stage. What stories to tell, what events in our lives we want to embellish, what makes us unique. He has years of wisdom and also the spirit of a much younger man.

UK Telegraph: Charles Aznavour - a Special Character 

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