Lise's life is a cabaret

The French chanteuse writes traditional music for modern tastes

October 26, 2006|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

French singer Claire Lise turned an interest in theater into a career in cabaret.

Lise, who plays An die Musik Live tomorrow night, was a budding actor who turned to music as a child. She wrote her first song at age 9 and moved to Paris after completing school. In Paris, she met a pianist, and the two began writing and arranging authentic cabaret numbers.

Though Lise uses a traditional approach (accordion, piano, bass, guitar and vocals), she writes songs that resonate with audiences today, she said.

"The songs I write are modern," Lise said. "It's my time, it's the present. People like that. People like these kind of songs. It's not so old."

She performed at An die Musik last May. Both trips were sponsored by the French Embassy.

An die Musik owner Henry Wong said he jumped at the chance to invite her back. "It's something different," he said. "It's nice to see another culture coming into Baltimore."

When Lise performed here last year, she was surprised at her warm reception. French audiences aren't as vocal as American audiences, she said.

"In France, when we perform, people are more shy," Lise said. "They're more reserved."

Since she sings only in French, Lise didn't expect many people to be as enthusiastic. But the venue, atmosphere and sizable crowd impressed her.

"The place where we played and where we sang is very great and original," Lise said. "It was a good time for us, really. I'm so happy to come back."

Wong thinks Lise's unique style of music will be a great draw again this year. It's not often you get a chance to see French cabaret straight from France, he said.

"You know how Baltimoreans are," he said. "If anything is out of the ordinary, people just flock to it. I really think she's definitely, definitely good."

At the show, Lise should be offering copies of her latest EP, Je Suis Blonde, Wong said. Released last year, it's her most recent studio album, he said.

The dumb blonde stereotype is not just an American thing -- it's also prevalent in France. That's where the EP's title comes from, Lise said. She's proud of her hair color.

"I want to say all along, I'm not silly or stupid," Lise said. "It's for all the blondes."

Claire Lise performs at An die Musik Live at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. tomorrow. Tickets are $20 and $18 for students and seniors. The venue is at 409 N. Charles St. Call 410-385-2638 or go to

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