Viet Nam News
by Vương Bạch Liên
Hà Nội has millions of lovers all over the world and each person expresses their love for the city in different way.
French pop-rock singer La Grande Sophie (real name Sophie Huriaux) showed her love for the city by writing the song Hanoi, which has enchanted music lovers in Việt Nam and France.
Last week, her song won her the award Bùi Xuân Phái-For the love of Hà Nội which recognised contributions of individuals and organisations to the capital’s cultural and societal development . The song was lauded by the jury as “it is deeply imbued with the singer’s love of Hà Nội and spreads love of this city to Vietnamese people and all over the world”.
When La Grande Sophie performed the song in Việt Nam in December last year, she won the hearts of locals who were touched by the love of a foreign person for their capital.
“I am extremely touched by this decision of the jury of the awards. I feel very honoured,” said the singer.
“What makes me very happy is to know that the inhabitants of Hà Nội can recognise themselves in the song. I love this city. The memories come back, I see myself again in the city.”
“To celebrate this happy news, I’ll come to eat bún chả (noodles with grilled pork and herbs), one of the specialities of Hà Nội and find again all tastes that I miss,” she wrote in an email from Paris late last week.
Love song for Hà Nội
La Grande Sophie wrote the song Hà Nội after her first visit to Việt Nam in 2013. She was invited to perform in Hà Nội at the "Oh la la" music festival, as part of activities to celebrate the the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and Viet Nam.
Unfortunately, the concert in Hà Nội was cancelled due to the death of General Võ Nguyên Giáp. The country held a state funeral for several days for the General amidst national mourning.
After the concert was cancelled, she planned to travel to Huế City. But a typhoon prevented her from leaving the city, forcing her to stay in Ha Noi much longer than she 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,” Sophie recalled.
“After several days of going out with them, and seeing Hà Nội, I developed a real attachment towards them and to the city. I was sad when I had to leave Hà Nội to return to Paris. I told myself that I had to come back to Việt 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,” she said.
The singer was touched to discover the city, its charm and traditions with its motorcycles, water puppets, cyclos, and street vendors.
“It is interesting to see that the life here revolves around the lake Hoàn Kiếm (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. Hà Nội gave me the desire to pick up my guitar again and compose songs”.
During her 20 year musical career, it was the first time that she wrote a song about a city that she visited.
Huge success in France
The song was well received in France when it was first presented to the public in her new album last year. People who listened to the song wrote on the singer’s Facebook fan page saying they could recognise images of Hà Nội in the video and lyrics. Others said that the song made them want to visit Hà Nội.
One fan, Nadine Meihac, said: “I keep a charming memory of your visit to Hà Nội while listening to the song and hope to come to this city one day.”
Another fan, Stephen Bunard, wrote on Facebook: “a very beautiful melody and nice lyrics that make those who know this city nostalgic.”
The singer said that she has always enjoyed performing this song during her concerts.
“I tell the public that I will take them to the country of smiles. But I don’t have time to finish my sentence. Some already said Ha Noi,” she said.
Sophie first began writing songs as a 12-year-old.
For her, music is a means of communication to make friends and meet interesting people.
To sing is to convey her emotions to others and spend good moments together. Beginning her career in the 1990s, La Grande Sophie first saw fame in 2004 when her third album, If It Were Me, earned her the first Victoires de la Musique, a music award in France.
Now with the prestigious Bùi Xuân Phái award, she has a place in the heart of Vietnamese music lovers.
“My story with Hà Nội continues and it’s a beautiful story. I wrote the song to always remember this fantastic trip made in 2013 as well as the kind people that I met. Ha Noi accompanies me in all my concerts. The public waits for it, appreciates it. We travel together and create a strong link with Việt Nam,” the singer said.-VNS