Love conquers all for Lara Fabian

Belgian superstar serenades Israelis one more time.

LARA FABIAN: ‘I’ve always nurtured the brighter side.’ (photo credit: LARA FABIAN PRODUCTIONS)
LARA FABIAN: ‘I’ve always nurtured the brighter side.’
A smoky piano bar. A casual singing gig. A 17-year-old star, waiting to be discovered. When Lara Fabian took to the stage one dark evening to brighten the mood, she had no idea just how important this show would be. Blinded by the spotlight, she couldn’t see a very prominent producer in the crowd, one who would instantly fall in love with her voice and ultimately introduce her talent to the world at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest.
Thirty years later, Fabian is considered the most successful female singer to come out of Belgium. Her sweet, yet sultry albums croon tales of love in both English and French. To celebrate her 50th birthday, she is heading off on a world tour and arriving in Tel Aviv at the Menora Mivtachim Arena on December 14.
The Jerusalem Post asked Fabian about her musical journey, her artistic inspiration, and her goals with the upcoming concert.
When did music first enter your life?
I got to really know music through the passion and love that my parents shared for it. My mom and dad both sang, and my dad played a couple of instruments. Music was never an obligation for me; from a very young age, I understood it as a moment of freedom where you could express yourself. I realized how much joy it could bring and how much that meant to me. I felt complete when I was in contact with it.
You come from quite a multicultural family, your father being Belgian and your mother Sicilian. Do those Belgian-Italian influences come through in your music?
My greatest influence came from my parents’ love of classical music. We listened to a lot of arias and operas growing up. Then, my dad became enamored with country music and my mom with vocalists – from Streisand to Maria Callas. Growing up, I became a huge fan of Freddie Mercury, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins. That’s where I really started developing my songwriting skills on a personal level.
How important was representing Luxembourg at the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest (placing fourth to Celine Dion) in shaping your career?
It was one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had because it put me through the test in many respects. Did I have the spine to undergo stress, pressure, media? Was it something that I was built to go along with?
Part of me was extraordinarily naïve. They asked me to do Eurovision after hearing me at a piano bar. I was only 17. Something sparked the interest of this producer and he asked me to do it. My mom and dad came along; everything was a family matter for us.
Your Eurovision song “Croire” (“To Believe”) has a very optimistic outlook. Your lyrics seem to have become more realistic as you’ve matured.
I think you can be optimistic and mature at the same time. It just depends how gracefully you blend those two elements. I’m a very optimistic person, woman, mother and singer. And at the same time, I’m very realistic when I look at other aspects of my life. I’ve always nurtured the brighter side. Whenever I’ve gone through turmoil, I’ve tried to learn from those moments and take away a lesson because there’s always a lesson when you’re on your knees, always.
Let’s talk about your most recent album, Papillon. It seems like there are a lot of themes surrounding love in the album (“Par Amour,” “Je Ne T’aime Plus,” “Sans Ton Amour”), which is not a rarity in your work.
I’ve always written about love. I have to say, I’m pretty mono-thematic because I believe that love is an endless theme to explore. “Love,” in the sense of the Greek word, can be such a journey. One that we all run after. We all search through this kind of sentiment for the truth of who we are. So, I pretty much have encountered endless inspiration if I connect myself to that theme.
What prompted your return to French songs after your last album, which was exclusively in English?
I guess my nature. I am a multilingual animal. I’ve always switched from Italian to French to English. It’s never been a matter of choosing, it’s a matter of being all these things at different times. [Language choice] comes naturally as I write. Some compositions are translatable while some simply can’t be sung in another language. They’d lose their genesis. Like “Je T’aime.” I’ve tried a million times to translate it and I can’t! It would lose its meaning.
And, of course, when I realized that I hadn’t put out a French record in five years, I thought, hmmm, maybe it’s time.
Producing 14 studio albums is quite a feat. As you near 50 are you looking to slow down?
I’ll be turning 50 on stage, so this is a big celebration. I have a next project that I’d really like to take on after the world tour. After that, I would love to find a way to be more stable.
You are no stranger to Israel, right?
I’ve been there a few times already and I’ve always had a special connection to it, much like Canada, where I now live. For a long time, my musicians were from Tel Aviv. I’ve traveled a lot to Israel for personal and professional reasons. The father of my daughter is also Jewish.
Does that strengthen your connection to the country?
It does. It had an influence of course, but way before that one of my first managers was from Tel Aviv. I’m Sicilian and for some reason there is this subtle connection in the way we see family, children, our elders. Over the years, I’ve gathered such a copious amount of people that are part of that community and that I am very close to.
Anything you’re looking forward to on this trip?
Well, I remember being in the White City [in Tel Aviv] and Jerusalem and feeling so serene. [Israel] has so much to it on a philosophical and spiritual level. I’m eager to reconnect.
What songs can our audience expect?
We’re browsing through 30 years of significant songs throughout these past three decades. What connected me to the audience. I’m telling stories I’ve never told before. How certain things got triggered in my life, and why I landed there or there. Who did I meet to develop this part of my career? It’s going to be a little more theatrical than what I’m used to allow people to get to know me better. Not just to hear me sing, but also to understand me from a different perspective after I’ve told these stories.
I would like to finish by saying that I feel very privileged that I can share with the audience, again, another moment in my life. Sometimes you go to a city once and that’s it. You have one chance and you have to take it as a one-timer in your life. I’m blessed to say that over 10 years, I’ve been lucky enough to go there over and again.