It is rare that French singers record an album of Broadway songs, so the opportunity is too precious to be missed. Belgium-born but French-adopted singer-actress Annie Cordy has just released an album called Annie Cordy Chante Broadway.
Annie Cordy, who will turn 70 this June, has been familiar with musical theatre for a long time, even if her work includes films, straight plays, TV series, operettas, musical revues (she has been a leading lady at the Lido) or commercials. Cordy might be mostly remembered for her comic songs, especially popular among very young audiences. But musical theatre buffs might remember that Annie Cordy created in France the role of Dolly in Jerry Herman's classic musical, Hello, Dolly!. Broadway historian Kurt Ganzl even considers her "perhaps the most delightful Dolly of them all" and adds "no Horace Vandergelder on earth could resist Belgium's Annie Cordy" in his book Song and Dance, The Complete Story of Stage Musicals (Smithmark Publishers).
One of Cordy's signature songs and motto is a song called "Ma Vie Est Une Comedie Musicale" ("My Life Is A Musical"). So it is only natural that she comes back to one of her favourite genres. On Annie Cordy Chante Broadway, the singer has chosen 14 songs from Broadway shows or dealing with Broadway. All of them are sung in French, though "Just One of Those Things" includes excerpts in English.
Opening the album is Annie Get Your Gun's anthem "There's No Business Like Show Business" ("C'est Beau de Faire Un Show", French adapt. B. Michel) later followed by another song from the same Irving Berlin musical, "They Say It's Wonderful" ("Etre Amoureux C'est Merveilleux", French adapt. Frank Gerald).
Cordy covers songs written by Broadway's most celebrated composers, with three by Cole Porter, two Richard Rodgers' classics, and two songs from Herman's Mame; "It's Today" ("Pour Ce Soir", French adapt. Charles Aznavour) and "If He Walked Into My Life" ("S'il Revenait Dans Ma Vie", French adapt. Charles Aznavour). Other songs performed by Cordy are Chicago's "All That Jazz" ("C'est Ca Le Jazz", French adapt. Pierre Delanoe) which might spread the Chicago-mania in France. Cordy also covers a song often recorded in English but rarely recorded in French (though Petula Clark did it) which is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" ("La Chanson D'Evita", French adapt. Pierre Delanoe) from Evita.
Cordy has recorded two songs written by French artists, "En Scene" by Charles Aznavour and "Madame Roza", lyrics by Claude Lemesle and music by Gilbert Becaud, from Becaud's musical Madame Roza, never produced in France but short-lived on Broadway (directed by Harold Prince in 1987, only lasted 12 performances).
Closing the 15 tracks album is a medley with "En Scene", "Big Spender", "All That Jazz", "Madame Roza" and "There's No Business Like Show Business".
This album might be the beginning of an Annie Cordy year. This year will see the release of an autobiography called Nini La Chance (Editions Belfond) named after a musical in which Cordy starred, the release of a CD compilation, a TV special and the return of Cordy on the famous stage of Paris Olympia, Sept. 1-13. Last but not least, the much awaited CD release of the French production of Hello, Dolly! which opened at the Theatre Mogador on Sept. 29, 1972, starring Cordy, should be released soon. This recording has never before been released on CD. Details on this release to be announced.
Annie Cordy Chante Broadway, 15 tracks, a Polygram release.
-- By Stephane Ly-Cuong