Chiara Civello

The Italian singer Chiara Civello and the French producer Marc Collin are back together for a second time. After Eclipse, they present Chansons : Chiara Civello Sings International French Standards. A tracklisting of 12 classic songs dating from 1945 to 1975 all by French song writers. From Michel Legrand to Charles Aznavour, Charles Trénet, Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel or Gilbert Bécaud and Francis Lai. Household names for French music lovers, but not necessarily so for international audiences. And that’s the big surprise of this album. 
These songs have crossed borders for over 70 years without reference to their French heritage. With this collection, they go from the shadows to the light. Who could imagine that Feelings, The Good Life or My Way were all written by French authors? And that Frank Sinatra, Julio Inglesias, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Luciano Pavarotti, Céline Dion, Dalida or Caetano Veloso have engraved these masterpieces on the international sound track of our lives. 

How did a “Jazz Head” and a “punk” cross paths? Call it mutual admiration. He discovered her thanks to friends in common. Civello knew of Collin’s work with Nouvelle Vague. These crossover covers attracted Chiara. She has always been a stout fan of breaking down the walls of musical genres. That shows in her many collaborations with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque and James Taylor. Civello and Collin share the concept of universal sound. She admires his “tropicalistic” vision; meaning “multicultural”. And they both are fans of Italian film soundtracks of the 60’s and 70’s, Ennio Morricone or Piero Piccione. And then there’s their unlimited love for Julie London. For Chiara, singing is not about voice. “Singing is being” she says. And with Marc, she shares the idea that a song is also “a multi-facetted vision. Light, dark. Chiaroscuro. There’s always a space for experimentation. Marc is not concerned by the algorythms that sell. I like his vibe. He’s not stressed and doesn’t have an ego. We have a goal and we want to achieve it. Our exchanges are like a game of ping-pong. It’s like a fever”. Before adding : “If Marc asks me to record on a winged cargo boat riding a horse and playing the ukulele, I go for it”. 

Collin, the founder and director of the label Kwaidan (Nouvelle Vague, Jay Jay Johanson and Yasmine Hamdan) loves Chiara’s voice. But when he listened to her albums, he was frank and told her he couldn’t do the same type of production. Raised on punk, he’s always worked in the DIY (Do it yourself) credo. For him, errors are a plus that create climate. But he recognized that working with her would be an opportunity to produce a Jazz album. He says : « I have the impression that I’m an American producer with Julie London or Dusty Springfield ! » 

Chiara Civello was born in the 1970’s. From the age of two, she grew up in front of a piano and playsinstinctfully. It’s then that Chiara started “a personnel relationship” with the instrument. She then taught herself to play the guitar. She enrolled in a Jazz School and fell in love with Sonny Rollins, Ornette Collin and Anita Baker. As a teenager, she saw Shirley Horn for her first concert ever. She was literally blown away. (10 years later she signed to Horn’s label, Verve). At 16, without telling her parents, she passed an audition seeking admission to Berklee School of Music, one of the most lauded American music schools. She succeeded hands down and won a scholarship as well. At 18, she left for New York. And her incredible destiny led her to share a dorm room with Antonia Bennet, daughter of Tony. And the master singer was very impressed by her talent. At Berklee, as well as learning the art of composition and arranging, she learned “how to walk in music” but also open mindness, metissage and identifying what moved her musically. All the contrary of her homeland where she says “music is governed by television. I will never mold myself after market place demands ». 

Today, she has signed her second album, recorded live in Bari with the finest Italian musicians, with very few overdubs. As far as choosing the songs, all of them exist in Italian but Marc and Chiara decided together in which language she would sing them. Curiously, she is the most comfortable in English although she sings in three different ones. Her voice is intimist, often baring her soul. The production is pure with the Marc Collin touch: a little retro with a variety of styles that cover piano bar, in the noble sense of the term (I Will Wait For You, My Way, The Good Life), swing (Petite Fleur), Cuban rythms (Feelings), drum and beat with vocal and piano improvisations (La Vie en Rose), soul (What Now My Love) and even blaxploitation (Hier Encore)