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Culture Vulture (16-12-2015)

Update: December, 16/2015 - 08:37

Well-known French pop-rock singer and songwriter Sophie Huriaux, better known as La Grande Sophie performed in HCM City and in Ha Noi last weekend during her tour to Asia.

Starting her career in the 1990s, she first saw fame in 2004 when her third album, If It Were Me, earned her the first Victoire de la Musique, one of the major music awards in France.

She was recently in the news in Viet Nam after she composed her song Hanoi where she sang about her attachment to the city. She talks with Bach Lien about the song and her artistic career.

You gave a nice surprise to Vietnamese audiences some months ago when you wrote a beautiful song about Ha Noi. Could you tell me the context to this song (when and why did you write it)?

It wrote the song Hanoi after my first visit to Viet Nam in 2013. I was invited to perform in Ha Noi at the "Oh la" music festival, as part of the activities to celebrate the French Year in Viet Nam to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Unfortunately, I was not able to present the concert in Ha Noi, as it was cancelled due to the death of General Vo Nguyen Giap. The country began the state funeral for several days as a mark of respect for the General amidst national mourning.

But before this State funeral, my band and I had a concert rehearsal. I was nicely surprised and touched to see a large number of spectators coming to the concert. Half of them were Vietnamese, and even though they did not speak my language, they offered me a very warm welcome.

After that day, I wanted to travel to Hue City. But a typhoon prevented me from leaving the city. Therefore, I stayed much longer in Ha Noi than expected.

I met some Vietnamese translators and made friends with them. They helped me to discover the city. They spoke perfect French despite the fact that they had never been to France. I was very impressed to see their willingness to speak my language.

After several days of going out with them, and seeing Ha Noi, I developed a real attachment towards them and to the city. I was sad when I had to leave Ha Noi to return to Paris. I told myself that I had to come back to Viet Nam. When I was back in Paris, I was very nostalgic about this city. I took my guitar and composed the song Hanoi to keep all those memories with me.

What touched you in Ha Noi?

I was touched to discover this city, its charms and traditions with its motorcycles, water puppets, pedicabs, and street vendors. It is interesting to see that the life here revolves around the lake Hoan Kiem (the Sword Lake). I am impressed to see the energy and the dynamism of its inhabitants. They are tender, and so kind.

I sang about the city like I had discovered it. Ha Noi gave me the desire to pick up my guitar again and compose songs.

I have always written songs for the past 20 years, but it is for the first time that I wrote a song about a city in the world that I visited.

How the public in France welcome the song?

The song has been witnessing success in France since September when it was first presented to the public in my new album. Many people who listened to this song told me that they could see the images of Ha Noi (that they visited) in this song. Many others told me that the song made them want to go to Ha Noi.

I know that you first wrote songs as a 12-year-old. Where do you find the inspiration when you want to write song?

For me, inspirations always come with emotions. In general, songs never come by chance. It is something that I want to express to others.

For me, music is a means of communication. It is always thanks to the music that I could make friends and meet the people who are close to me now.

To sing is to convey my emotions, sentiments to other and spend a good moment together.

To be on stage, is to live in the present moment. — VNS

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