Canadian-Belgian singer Lara Fabian continues to astound the masses with her incredible three-octave range.
She began her career in singing competitions eventually coming in fourth place to winner Celine Dion in the 33rd Eurovision Song Contest. Her popularity quickly grew after that in the '90s, with Carpe Diem being her breakthrough album. Awards followed along with each musical endeavor and early on she released an anti-homophobia anthem called "La Difference" to show her stance on gay rights.
Her self-titled English album launched the 2000 dance hit "I Will Love Again" crossing over in the charts and various countries.
The latest record, Camouflage, is produced with a Swedish-American team and has her touring the United States.
Windy City Times: Hi, Lara. I'm so excited to see in concert finally. When was the last time you have toured to Chicago?
Lara Fabian: I am very excited to come to Chicago. This will be my first show ever in Chicago. I have toured in the USA many times but, for some reasons, we never managed to come to Chicago, which I always found odd.
My last concerts in the USA were in 2015 when did an acoustic show. This current tour is very different, as it is based on the new pop album, as well as rearranged new versions of my songs from all my previous albums. We have a large band, and great visuals, so this is going to be a fun show.
WCT: How many languages do you speak and how many languages have you sung in?
LF: I am fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish. I also speak and understand some Dutch. Being Belgian-Canadian, with a Flemish father, an American grandfather and a Sicilian mother helps. As I have now been touring and singing across the world for more than two decades, I've had the chance to sing in many other languages, from Russian to Hebrew, from Greek to Portuguese. A duet I did with a Chinese artist in Mandarin was the toughest for me. And the lady who was assigned to me as my translator told me I was: "Good singer, but bad-Mandarin." When I write songs, I write in English and French.
WCT: Have you ever met Barbra Streisand, being such a fan of hers?
LF: Oh, yesBarbra Streisand is, for me, a living monument who should be put under the protection of UNESCO as world cultural heritage! And I've had the chance to meet her a couple of times. I might have sold more than 20 million records in my career, but shaking hands with Barbra is an experience I will never forget. Actually, I've not only met Barbra: one day, I received a call at my house in Belgium. And a woman on the line said "Hello, May I speak with Lara? This is Barbra Streisand." Thinking that it was a hoax, I hung up. She called back, and it was actually really Barbara!
She was calling to talk about covering a song I wrote called "Broken Vow." How amazing was that? And how embarrassing for me to hang up on her!
WCT: The song "I Will Love Again" really connected with your gay fan base. Can you talk about your gay fans?
LF: Me and the LGBT community have a long-term relationship. "I Will Love Again" being a number one dance Billboard hit has something to do with that. But I believe, other titles have also had an impact, such as the song "La Difference," which I wrote decades ago, in which I voiced respect and equality of rights, and explaining something as simple as that there is no difference in love. I believe a lot has been achieved on the path of equality, in the USA or in Western Europe. But we shouldn't take anything for granted, all acquired rights, gender equality, human rights, women's rights, these are all fragile, and need to be taken care of and defended constantly, and fought for everywhere. Even in the most liberal societies.
WCT: What is one song you always have to sing in concert?
LF: Actually, my most famous song depends on the country I am in. In the USA, I am mostly known for "I Will Love Again." In France, with the love ballad "Je t'aime." In Italy, with the ballad "Adagio." In Brazil, it would be my song "Love by Grace," and in Russia, "Mademoiselle Zhivago." This is the result of a complex career path that grew organically, based on individual artistic projects I did in various countries. I had different hits in different places. I have to keep this in mind when I go on an international tour, as I do with the upcoming Camouflage World Tour.
WCT: Are you performing any cover songs?
LF: On this tour, I do have a cover song in the set list, which will come as a big surprise.
WCT: Talk about the inspiration for the new record Camouflage.
LF: Camouflage is an electro-pop album, resulting from a cooperation with the Swedish music producer Moh Denebi, and the celebrated American songwriter Sharon Vaughn. I can say that this is my favorite album ever, among all albums I have released. It has various musical textures and colors, big ballads, electro-pop tracks, minimalistic arrangements on some tracks, big string ensembles on others. Camouflage, I believe, reflects as much the artist and woman I have come to be, as it talks about the contradictory and confusing times we live in.
WCT: What is your favorite track on it currently?
LF: My favorite track is the title song "Camouflage," which talks about our fear of standing out from the other one," our need to hide our true selves by blending in and wearing masks. Identity has always been a major theme of my work, and this is a different, updated take on that subject reflecting my personal experiences.
WCT: With having so many albums, has one stood out from the rest? What has been the achievement that meant the most to you over the years?
LF: It is difficult to pick a single episode. However, my eponymous album, released by Sony Music in the USA, with the titles "I Will Love Again," "Adagio," and "Broken Vow" was a turning point for my international career, but my journey took off with my first album released in Canada, which became a massive success, changing my life overnight. Also, the French albums "Nue" and "Pure," with the tracks "Je t'aime," "Immortelle," and others have defined who I am and what I represent as an artist in various countries. I am thankful for all the ups, but acknowledge also all the downs for having brought me to the place I am today. And I am very happy with who I have become today as an artist, a mother, a woman, and a human.
WCT: How do you take care of your voice when out on the road?
LF: That is indeed tricky, especially with changing time zones, traveling long distances in planes, airports, sleeping in hotels, air conditioning, meeting, hugging, kissing and talking with many people. I try to avoid doing interviews during the tour, to protect my voice. I also have a strict vocal exercise program with my vocal coach. I try to isolate myself on the concert days, and speak as little as possible.
WCT: What TV show are working on now?
LF: I have just recently joined the Canadian edition of The Voice as a judge. And it is a fantastic experience. I really did not expect that I would enjoy this so much? I love to work with the next generation, trying to transmit to them my experience as best as I can. And participating in this show has also given me the opportunity to move back to Canada, after having spent more than a decade in Europe. I can't say often enough how much I am in love with Canada and my hometown of choice, Montreal.
WCT: Future projects?
LF: First of all, I have the Camouflage World Tour which will be ongoing throughout the year, bringing me, my band and our music to 40 or so countries. I also have the TV show The Voice in Canada, which starts airing in February.
Between all those commitments, I am already working on the next album, in French, which will be released by the end of the year. And, if that was not enough, I am also working on preparations to open a multi-disciplinary artistic school, where I and my partners hope to transmit our experiences and knowledge to the next generation of artists. I love to be busy, because I love what I do.
Don't miss a first chance to see Lara Fabian in Chicago at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., on Friday, Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. Try CopernicusCenter.org for ticket information, with more on Fabian at LaraFabian.com .