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Carla Sings and Talks - Everywhere

 


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The publicity campaign to accompany the release of her third album is in full swing, and France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has been doing the rounds here to promote
"Comme si de rien n'était. "

On Thursday, the eve of the album hitting the stores, she spent a punishing day talking to the press from home and abroad. And on Friday she gave an “exclusive" to a national radio station during the day and in the evening she popped up at the end of TF1's prime time news for a full 10-minute section with anchorwoman Claire Chazal.

It's not unusual for style or cultural pieces to appear towards the end of the main news bulletin on either TF1, France's biggest private channel, or its public television equivalent France 2, although perhaps the length of the segment was a little longer than is the norm.

Viewers were treated to glossy promotional shots of “the making of" as well as a round up of her few short months at the president's official residence, the Elysée palace, and her trips abroad accompanying her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, on state visits.

The only references she made to her “Nicolas" as he has often been mockingly portrayed in the French media, was as “my husband" or “my spouse", neatly side stepping the fact that he also happened to be the president.

With the camera clearly adoring her finely chiselled features, Bruni-Sarkozy seemed perfectly at ease - as well she might for a woman who has spent a great deal of her adult life in the media spotlight - speaking in a breathless voice in almost accentless French.

No, there was no conflict in being first lady and releasing an album, we were told, and music had always been a very important part of her life.

When the now happily married couple were first spotted out together in public for the first time at Eurodisney of all places last December, and the rumours of a speedy marriage gathered pace, the media - French and international - went into hysterical speculative overdrive.

How, many wondered, would this woman with a past possibly be able to carve out a role for herself as first lady, retain her own career as a singer and be accepted by the French at large?

Well the answer seems to be on all counts so far, remarkably well in spite, or maybe because, of her colourful background. In an opinion poll here in France just last month, more than two-thirds of those questioned approved of the way she had conducted herself as first lady.

The daughter of a wealthy Italian industrialist and composer, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, and the Italian concert pianist, Marisa Borini, Bruni-Sarkozy was born in Turin, moved to France with her family when she was just five and was “discovered" by the world of catwalks at 19.

She has long been considered one of the world's most beautiful women - the kind who would make wearing a tea cosy not only fashionable but probably also sexy.

Over the years she acquired the reputation as something of a “man eater", not an image she was eager to play down, even apparently going as far as to say once that, “I am monogamous from time to time, but I prefer polygamy and polyandry. "

In her 20s she had a much publicised on-off affair with Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger - and she also dated a long and eclectic number of A-listers including US billionaire Donald Trump, British rock star Eric Clapton, Hollywood actor Kevin Costner and even former French Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius.

And how's this for a one-woman double act so to speak. Seven years ago, while living with the French publisher, Jean-Paul Enthoven, she met and fell in love with his son, Raphael.

Bruni and Enthoven Jnr have a son, Aurélien - now six.

But most importantly perhaps in the equation, and the reason that she has been so readily accepted, is that Bruni-Sarkozy also comes with intellectual credentials. She has expressed views on many issues, is seen as Left-of centre and still publically disagrees with many of Sarkozy's policies - such as the mandatory DNA testing of immigrants.

It'll be interesting to see how this new album fares. When Bruni-Sarkozy launched herself musically on an unsuspecting public back in 2002 with the release of her first album “Quelqu'un m'a dit, " she received both critical and commercial acclaim. It sold 1.2 million copies in France alone and a further 800.000 abroad.

However her follow-up in 2007, “No promises" in which she set music to English-language poems was something of a flop by comparison, notching up sales of around 80,000 here in France.

Perhaps she has learned her lesson by only including one track on her new album where she sets a poem to music - this time by the French writer, Michel Houellebecq.

Most of the 14 tracks have been penned by the singer herself although there's a remake of a Bob Dylan number, “You belong to me" as well as a song in her native Italian - a cover of Francesco Guccini's “Il Vecchio E Il Bambino. " Proof perhaps that Bruni-Sarkozy remains ever the polyglot with an eye on the international market.

Anybody expecting some sort of presidential revelation or behind-the-scenes surprise will be in for a disappointment as 95 per cent of the material on the album was written before she first met Sarkozy, although there's at least one track that's open to interpretation of quite a different sort.

All proceeds from the sale of the album will reportedly be donated to charity.

Johnny Summerton is a Paris-based broadcaster, writer and journalist. For more on what's making the headlines here in France, log on to his site at http://www.persiflagefrance.com

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