INTERVIEWS JIL AIGROT
THE PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIMEMARION COTILLARD's OSCAR-winning portrayal of the legendary EDITH PIAF in the film 'LA VIE EN ROSE' owes a great deal to the vocal talents of JIL AIGROT. While COTILLARD brought PIAF to life with her spot-on performance as France's grand-dame of song, it is AIGROT's voice that the audience hears, giving life to PIAF's exquisite reportoire. In the weeks prior to COTILLARD receiving her OSCAR, I had a talk with JIL AIGROT over the phone, with a little help from her manager, regarding the release of her debut CD 'WORDS OF LOVE' (LML MUSIC). This self-produced album is an homage to the music of PIAF. The timing of the CD's pending release (MARCH 11, 2008 in the U.S.) and COTILLARD's OSCAR win, would lead one to assume that this was a carefully calculated move. However, there was no such calculation. AIGROT, a Cannes-based theater actress and singer, has been celebrating the work of EDITH PIAF in concert halls for the past two years on stages throughout France.
JIL AIGROT BRINGS EDITH PIAF TO LIFE
IN 'LA VIE EN ROSE'
AND HER DEBUT ALBUM 'WORDS OF LOVE':
A ROCKWIRED EXCLUSIVE
WRITTEN BY BRIAN LUSH
The interview was slow due to the tremendous gap in our respective languages. At times it seemed as if I was interviewing the manager instead of AIGROT, but there was one moment in the interview where the response was purely AIGROT's; a moment that didn't need to be sugarcoated for promotional purposes. I asked her if she felt that her vocal performance in 'LA VIE EN ROSE' had been eclipsed by the accolades given to COTILLARD and the reverence that may have been given to the films' subject matter (PIAF). Her response was a sharp "YES!"
In the making of 'LA VIE EN ROSE', AIGROT worked with COTILLARD in a recording studio in an attempt to synch AIGROT's singing with COTILLARD's miming. It was a painstaking process that AIGROT found challenging. "I had never worked this way before." says AIGROT. "I recorded the music, and she would lip-sync the words. It was really important for us to work together." This task proved essential as COTILLARD, in the making of the film, had trouble lip-synching to the original PIAF recordings. "My singing was never really publicized by the makers of the film but that gives the film a certain mystique."
With the pending release of WORDS OF LOVE, people will come to know JIL AIGROT, the performer. Born in Algeria, but raised and currently based in Cannes France, AIGROT's fascination with music and singing started at an early age. "As a child I knew that singing was something that I wanted to do. I knew that it was something that I had to do."
This love for music moved AIGROT to working in a musical theater troupe, doing mostly musical comedies and concerts. It was two years ago when JIL decided to do shows in dedication to PIAF. In order to get a better understanding of the singer, JIL made a trip to a library to do some research. It was here that she saw an announcement for a book signing by GINOU RICHER - EDITH PIAF's personal secretary. The book was 'EDITH PIAF, MY FRIEND'. "I bought the book and waited in line for GINOU to sign it." says AIGROT. "When it was my turn, I introduced myself and told her that I was planning to do a show dedicated to PIAF. At that moment GINOU asked me to sing. I sang a few lines and then went on my way."
Here begins the Cinderella story.
A few months later, JIL and GINOU met up with each other again in Cannes. "GINOU asked me for my telephone number so she could give it to OLIVIER DAHAN, who would be directing a movie about EDITH PIAF." says AIGROT. "They were looking for the voice of PIAF. They had seen over a thousand people and couldn't find the right voice."
In going off to audition before director OLIVIER DAHAN, JIL had the blessings of GINOU RICHER. "She told me, that I had the same tonality and the essence that PIAF had." High praise from a singing legend's close confidant!
JIL met OLIVIER and auditioned for him. As she got on the train to return home following the audition, she received a phone call from OLIVIER asking her to come back. "They were down to three singers that they were considering" says AIGROT "and eventually, I was picked."
With the critical success of 'LA VIE EN ROSE' behind her, JIL and her management are now focusing all of their attention of the release of her CD 'WORDS OF LOVE'; a CD that AIGROT has produced herself. What moved a theater actress/singer to record a CD and produce it herself? "After every show (the EDITH PIAF shows) people would come up and ask me if I had a CD." says AIGROT "I would always say 'no' and they would say 'you have to have a CD', so that was why I decided to make one."
'WORDS OF LOVE' is an atmospheric recording best listened to with a glass of merlot and candlelight. Despite the subdued arrangements of PIAF classics such as NON JE NE REGRETTE RIEN, LES MOTS D'AMOUR (the title track), and MON DIEU - there is an immediacy to the recording that you can almost hear. This may have something to do with
the hurried pace at which the album was recorded. "The musicians whom I had recorded this CD with were only available for three days, so we had a limited amount of time to work with."
This limited amount of time also meant that some material had to be put aside due to the musicians' lack of familiarity with the songs. However this has opened up the possibility of another PIAF-related release from AIGROT. "There are other songs by her that I would like to record."
What about the possibility of recording something other than PIAF songs? "Yes, I would love to do an album of Blues and Jazz!" Early in the day, before this interview, JIL was interviewed on NPR where she broke into an impromptu performance of NATURE BOY. This was just one in a series of appearances in the United States. The first was a fund-raiser in Ventura, hosted by the INTERNATIONAL THEATER FESTIVAL at the RUBICON THEATER. She has also performed for the BILLBOARD ACADEMY AWARDS party.
JIL has released the CD the her French speaking public has expected of her and so far, the reviews are excellent. As far as what a listener takes away from the experience of listening to 'WORDS OF LOVE', AIGROT can only say this: "I want people to feel peaceful when they hear it. And I would like them to listen to it over and over again."