Congratulations Carlotti! Mark Sullivan looks back at the career of that other Barbara:
Barbara Carlotti, who is 40 today, has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet. Lovers of francophone popular music are fortunate that she has chosen chanson in its 21st century form rather than classical music or the theatre. In any of these arts Barbara would excel; to listen to her talking or singing makes one realise how wonderful the human voice can be. Guuzbourg’s interview with her in Amsterdam in 2008, the only known one in English, is here.
Barbara Rose Carlotti, born on 2 July 1974, developed her singing talent at the Conservatoire Niedermayer at Issy-les-Moulineaux in the western Paris suburbs.
With her voice, style and mane of blonde hair she has an elegant, positive, open nature which makes everyone love her. This goes with what Telerama’s popular-music critic Valérie Lehoux calls her ‘subversive nonchalance’ – a laid-back style which conceals something deeper.
Barbara Carlotti has produced four albums since 2005. The first,‘Chansons’ with her sometime musical collaborator Bertrand Burgalat, is little known. There followed Les Lys brisés (2006), which brought her to public notice. Her song ‘Cannes’, which portrays the annual Film Festival, was used by Canal+. See her live version and as matched to film of the Festival.
This was followed by L’Ideal (2008), with some excellent songs. ‘Mademoiselle Opossum’, her entry for the Prix Constantin in 2008, in a typically elegant live performance:
She spent three years on her 2012 album, L’Amour, l’argent et le vent which Filles Sourires welcomed in April 2012 as ‘elegant, detailed and classy’.
This included time living in Japan, Brazil and India to seek influences. Valérie Lehoux wrote in her review: ‘Her songs, which remain as French as a Saint-Laurent dress, have picked up some of those sounds, creating a distinguishing foreignness.’ See the atmospheric video for ‘L’amour, l’argent et le vent’:
She has made some intriguing appearances in films, of an artistic rather than commercial type. See her in the short film ‘L’Italie’ here and as the world’s most glamorous tram conductor in a clip from ‘Après la rêve’, filmed on the Grenoble tramway system.
Barbara Carlotti’s concerts have a light-hearted atmosphere, in which the audience feels it is being taken on a journey of exploration, and wonder what she will do next. Typical is her October 2012 concert at La Cigale, Paris – the intriguing song ‘Ouais ouais ouais’ where she put on a mask, and an excellent version of ‘Dimanche d’automne’.
A longer ‘concert privé’ filmed about 2009 for a small invited audience in Paris, ‘Mezzo voce – Barbara Carlotti’ is now available here. This includes two short songs in English – between 30m00s and 35m00s in the 50-minute film.
Carlotti is not just an auteure-compositeure-interprète and occasional actress, but a creator of sounds and words, mixing voices with tones – a producer of and a voice for radio programmes, and is always in demand for that. So she does not need to focus on writing songs or performing all the time.
Recently she has worked with Christophe Blain, a creator of Bandes Dessinées, producing mixed shows of art and music, notably ‘La fille’. She has just finished producing and appearing in a long-running radio series on France-Inter, ‘Cosmic fantaisie’.
What can we look forward to from Barbara now that she is 40? She wrote on her facebook page on 25 June, as the ‘Cosmic fantaisie’ series reached its end, ‘Après 10 mois de fantaisie radiophonique on revient à la chanson’. We can hope for some new songs in the next few years. Interestingly, she shares a manager with La Grande Sophie – the experienced and highly-regarded Judith Levy.