By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
The multicultural Paris Chansons is determined to give visitors to the Musical Instrument Museum a genuine French experience.
With three multilingual singers, Paris Chansons—the latter word is French for “song”—perform original renditions of French favorites from Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Joe Dassin, Edith Piaf, Enrico Macias, Yves Montand and the one-monikered Zaz.
The shows are punctuated with traditional jazz standards as well as classics in Russian, Italian and other languages.
The group will perform Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, at the MIM Theater during Experience France weekend. The July 14 show is especially poignant, as it’s Bastille Day, which honors the date of the storming of the Bastille in 1789. It’s a national holiday in France.
“It’s going to be a celebration of French music with an international twist,” says singer Julia Kantor, who was born in the Ukraine and lived and studied in France.
“We’ll have a special tribute to Charles Aznavour. We’re going to sing his most beloved songs. He is a French-Armenian icon who passed away in October. That’ll be part of the show, but it won’t be the whole show.”
Kantor is one of three multilingual singers. She connected with French music while living in the country. Moving to the United States from the Ukraine when she was 5, Kantor founded Paris Chansons five years ago.
“French music has this global appeal and has uniquely touched people from all over, specifically in Eastern Europe,” she says.
“It’s always been a part of my life. My parents are singer-songwriters. Five years ago, this became a full-time career.”
She is joined in the band by her husband, Jacob, a Russian-born singer-songwriter and guitarist. The third vocalist is Moroccan-bred Max Cohen, who specialized in the songs of Enrico Macias. The musicians are pianist Jeff Lams, upright bassist Adam Cohen, violinist Endre Balogh and drummer Sinclair Lott.
Kantor is excited to be performing for the fifth time at the Musical Instrument Museum. Besides the concert, Paris Chansons will appear at the MIM’s Artist Encounter and Q&A from 2:30 to 3 p.m. both days.
The Kantors, Cohen and Balogh will share stories about the group’s origins and present anecdotes about Aznavour, Macias, and Joe Dassin. During this program, Paris Chansons will also perform.
“We love the MIM,” she says. “The museum is extraordinary and the theater, the acoustics, they’re a musicians’ dream. You can’t get better than that.” ν