In answer to the daily prompt When will I be loved?
An interview with an elusive star…
This is quite interesting; we are meeting with singer-songwriter and superstar MLW… She’s had quite the career, coming onto the music scenes a few years ago. Her voice, whose nuances, deep tones and powerful belt have been compared to the likes of Aretha Franklin, and her songs with powerful messages. It was unlikely someone like her would make it in the business – or so she is rumoured to have said – though who knows? This industry can be fickle sometimes.
Although we are in her hometown she will not meet us at her house; she has booked a room at the *** hotel; it’s not grand nor flashy. In fact I don’t believe we’d meet that many stars in such a setting. Forget red carpets or star gazing at this place; you’re more likely to find businessmen or tourists. That says something about the character: she seems to be having simple tastes. Her clothing at events such as the *** Music Awards have shown as much. When we enter the room she is there, watching out the window humming something we haven’t heard before: a new song maybe?
She appears genuinely happy to see us, even offers coffee or refreshments. She literally hosts for us. No room service to be seen, she’s taking care of it herself. The simple jeans and white blouse seem to show she doesn’t stand on ceremony; and in fact she doesn’t.
“You came to fame fairly late Ms. W. why is that so?”
“I didn’t aim for fame to be honest; I love singing, I love writing. I combined the two for a long time for my own pleasure. With the internet and youtube it made it easier for people like me. People who aren’t so hot and beautiful that they attract attention. It was about my voice and songs, not about my looks. I got lucky; people enjoyed it, loved it. And here I am.”
“When did you start singing?”
“A long time ago; my family was always singing ever since I can remember so music’s always been part of my life. Folklore, children’s songs, the radio. It was eclectic and we would be singing with my siblings and cousins – sometimes totally out of tune. It was fun. And then when I entered secondary school at the age of 10 I joined the school choir. I’ve been taking singing lessons ever since.”
“We don’t know that much about you apart from the fact you are married with two children.” She lights up at the mention of her loved ones. “But you rarely grant interviews. Don’t you think you can appear distant or haughty?”
“Ah… I’m French; aren’t we arrogant in the first place?” She laughs… “In fact it’s funny you should ask that question… “Pour vivre heureux vivons cachés,” was what my mother always said. Having a private life that people don’t know about is important; one needs their secret garden or even just a safe place. I want to protect what I have with my family. They didn’t choose my career, I will not impose its constraints on them. The only thing you need to know is that they love me unconditionally and support me in everything that I do. And I hope I am good enough to return the favour in kind.”
“We are here in your hometown – or at least what people claim to be your hometown – yet you receive us here. Is that for that privacy?”
“Absolutely. I keep my job and my private life separate to the extent that I can. In fact, I’m glad you’re not sure whether this is the city I live in or not. It’s good.”
“Aren’t you afraid that some friends of yours or your husband, or even your children could reveal your ‘secret’?” She laughs.
“We’ll see when and if it happens.”
“You are so private and yet sometimes your songs sound so intimate as if you were writing your own experiences. Where is the inspiration coming from?” She smiles.
“Some are… we write best about what we know. And yet; I also write about things that I have never experienced or seen; nor do I ever want to. It’s a compliment to know that the people who listen feel it’s true and compelling enough that it speaks to them in such a powerful manner. I can only hope to continue doing just that.”
“How do you feel about people comparing your voice to Aretha Franklin’s?”
“I feel very honoured even though I don’t think it’s correct. She’s way better than I will ever be. And she has a voice that cannot be duplicated. She is an artist I grew up loving and admire a lot. I would never compare myself to her. She’s such an icon. I can only aspire to have a career half as wonderful as the one she’s had.”
“Your first album was very jazzy in its inspiration, not quite Aretha, maybe more Ella or Billie Holiday, the second one sounded more like it came out of Celtic tradition. Aren’t you afraid to be spread too thin?”
“I do what I love. I have a voice that is usually considered ‘Broadway’ what with being a belter and all. Yet I don’t want it to be all I do. In fact, I have been working on a piece that has a “classical symphony” feel. I love music in all its forms – almost – and I want to experience all it has to offer. That much I’ll tell you. I am private but whether or not the stories in my songs are mine or not, the styles give you a pretty good idea of who I am. I don’t want to do just a certain type of music, I want to write good music and lyrics. There are songs or compositions that have passed the test of time. I would aspire to write pieces that will be remembered in the same way some of Mozart’s or Beethoven’s works are. Timeless, inspiring and soul-feeding.”
“So you do want to be loved and get recognition after all…”
“The songs are not about me. They are stories in and of themselves; anyone could be singing them. For me singing has never been about me or my performance, it’s about the story you tell. Why do you think none of my videos feature me?”
“I guess we all thought it was about the privacy issue.” She laughs again.
“Fair enough. But in this case no. When a song is well written, well composed, it stands on its own. Anyone can sing it. However the question remains: can they interpret it in a way that is true to the song’s story? I remember seeing Les Mis’ once; my very first time seeing it. And I so wanted to; I had sung some of the songs at recitals. I loved the original book; it was such a disappointment. There was no interpretation. It was just singing; fine but not in the service of the story. I almost left at intermission. So when I sing, I try to keep that in mind. It’s not about being the star of the show: the stories in the songs are. It’s about telling these stories in a true fashion that people can relate to them. That’s all.”
“So what can we expect of your next album? You mentioned something classical in inspiration…”
“I’ve been working on one piece; that won’t make an album. It’s still a work in progress, but you’ll have a single released within the next couple of weeks so that might give you a clue.”
“Can we know the name of the song?”
“Pour vivre heureux vivons cachés.” She has a wry smile; the humour is not lost on her. She kindly plays a verse of the song for us; it will be interesting to see what the fans think of it. But it’s again soulful and deep. Are we in for another soul searching and questioning album? We don’t know but we can’t wait to hear the full song and the rest of the album.