COEUR DE PIRATE at Virgin Mobile Mod Club (722 College), Friday (November 11), 7 pm. $21. RT, SS, TW. See listing.
Everyone agrees that it's incredibly hard for francophone musical acts to succeed with anglophone audiences. But don't expect proud Quebecer Béatrice Martin (aka Coeur de Pirate) to attempt a Céline Dion-style linguistic makeover any time soon.
"No, no, no. God, no," Martin protests over coffee at a Toronto café. "They can't even pronounce ‘Coeur de Pirate' here. [Singing in English] would be a hard crossover for me. And since there are probably only about 60 million francophones in the world, which is nothing, I feel like I'm doing my part to preserve a language that is so beautiful."
Besides, embracing her native language is working for Martin. It helped her stand out from the pack and win a large English-speaking audience early in her career, something few since Edith Piaf have managed. Recently, her new album, Blonde (Grosse Boîte), has been sitting at number-one on the Canadian iTunes chart. And in theatres across France, Martin's is the voice of Smurfette in the new Smurfs movie (a role played by Katy Perry in the English version).
"I'm really lucky [to have found success]. It shows that Canada isn't that closed-minded when it comes to this stuff. French people are very attached to the lyrics of a song. If I don't relate to the words, I won't like the song. To see English speakers enjoy my music without understanding the lyrics tells me I've done my job as a musician."
Blonde finds the young piano-pop singer/songwriter delving into a 60s-inspired sound and paying tribute to the early days of the French "chanteuse." In her lyrics she combs her relationship history, which, thanks to her rapid rise to fame, is more complicated than the average 22-year-old's.
"I didn't learn how to deal with people at all, because when I was 18 I went from being the invisible teenager to a bit of a star. In the rest of Canada I'm still seen as indie, which is nice, but where I'm from I'm not."