Zaz, a rising star in French music


Zaz, bête de scène
Zaz, born to be on stage

(unknown photographer)
Today, I would like to introduce you to a very special young lady. Her name is Isabelle Geffroy, but in France and in Europe, she is known as “Zaz.”

Zaz became a “Star” just three years ago, but she has been involved in music her whole life. She was born in the center of France, near Tours. When she was a child, she joined the renowned Tours music academy where she studied the violin, the piano, the guitar and singing. She is only 11 when she leaves the academy, but she will keep working hard at her art over the next few years, more noticeably in Bordeaux. She claims she was inspired by Vivaldi; jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald; French singers such as Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour; Jacques Brel; Bobby Mc Ferrin, and she loves rap, afro, latino, and cuban music. Drawing from a variety of styles and influences, she has created her own sound. They refer to it as “Zaz’s gypsy jazz sound.” Maybe. To me, her music is unique, inspired and… happy! Let me warn you, her tunes are catchy and addictive.

Here is her breakthrough single, “Je Veux” (I Want.) Zaz is not a materialistic girl and she wants the world to know!

There she is, singing in the streets, with a couple of musicians. Does she remind you of someone? Zaz has often been compared to the great Edith Piaf, who started as a street performer. Like Piaf, Zaz is renowned for her “gouaille,” a cheeky, outspoken way of expressing herself. While still an unknown singer, I suspect she did justice to all of the great Piaf’s songs, but also infused them with her own style and personality.

Zaz, “une personnalité” (a “character”)
(Unknown photographer)
Even though she looks barely 20, Zaz is in her early 30s and has been performing with small bands all over Europe for years. She is full of life, passionate, [admittedly] loud; loves the stage, and in spite of appearances (she makes it all look so easy,) is a hard worker.

Zaz on stage
(unknown photographer)
Her voice is unique. Husky, broken at times, but powerful. The girl also has rhythm. She can imitate the sound of a trumpet like there is no tomorrow. As a side note, like me, she enjoys walking in city streets and people-watch. Here is another favorite song: Les Passants (the Passers-by.) This is a live version, just Zaz and two musician friends, performing in Paris near Montmartre.

If you look up Zaz’s videos on YouTube, you will notice there are many versions of her songs, both official videos and live sessions, recorded in concert or in the street. Often, comments are written by fans based in Greece or in Eastern Europe, Russia for example. That is because she toured extensively in those countries before she made it to the big leagues. She also performed (primarily in small venues) in Egypt and Japan. Now that she is famous, she continues to tour in France and around Europe. According to her official website, Zaz will be in Germany this spring.

Here is the official version of my favorite Zaz song: “La Fée” (the Fairy.) I heard this is an amateur video a father shot of his young children (both Zaz fans, apparently.) He sent it to the singer, who loved and adopted it. The words in the song are somewhat mysterious, and it starts like this: “Moi aussi, j’ai une fée chez moi...” (I have a fairy in my house, too…)

Zaz, if you are reading this, when are you coming to Seattle? I know you prefer performing in small venues, and I think I have just the place for you! Check this out: You, too, could perform at the venerable Paramount Theatre, a local landmark. Imagine your name up there, in big letters! I will bring a crowd, that’s a promise! The Pacific Northwest could use some of your contagious joie de vivre this time of year. Think about it, d’accord?

Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA
French Girl and les Girls, Mamma Mia,
Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA 3/24/2012
An experienced musician and performer, Zaz still only has a couple of albums out. Here is her breakthrough CD, released in 2010.

I have also heard of a Live album but have not listened to it yet. It is featured on her website.

In 2010, she officially became France’s favorite female performer, and the rumor has it her concerts sell out in a few hours. She is courted by renowned TV shows, where she appears on occasion, a bit shy, but true to her style, and often performs with more established French artists. I saw her recently in an interview with renowned French composer and singer Pierre Perret. She did more than hold her own! The song is Perret’s moving “Mon P’tit Loup.” (My little darling.) Beautiful.

And here she is. 32 years old. Une étoile qui monte (a rising star,) in European music. I listen to Zaz a lot. She is French, but also a citizen of the world, because her music incorporates so many styles and cultures. No wonder she has such a widespread appeal. Respectful of the past and her idols, Zaz also looks forward and creates a brand new sound. From now on, the sky is the limit! If you don’t know her yet, do yourself a favor, and download her music. You will not be regret it.

A bientôt.

For those of you who speak French, this website lists the words of all Zaz songs on the 2010 “Je Veux” album, as well as the video clips. Enjoy!

All right. If you insist. There is always an Encore, after all. So, for those of you who have not had enough, voilà two more video clips.

Zaz sings Edith Piaf:  During a French TV show, she interprets “Padam-Padam” for the audience and French singer Veronique Sanson.

Zaz chante Edith Piaf: “La Vie en Rose.” Check out the talented, happy girl in action!

A bientôt.

Dear readers:

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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)


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