Clara Luciani, November Ultra, Philippe Katerine or Voyou: established and emerging artists form a supergroup to pay tribute to Françoise Hardy at the close of the Hyper Weekend Festival on Sunday on Radio France. This first notable musical event of the year at the Maison de la Radio et de la Musique, in Paris, has made a habit of “saluting the repertoire of living artists”, as the master of music told AFP. The work of the event, Didier Varrod, musical director of Radio France.
Françoise Hardy just celebrated her 80th birthday on January 17 and returned to the news in December with a shock interview in Paris Match. The artist confided that he was experiencing a “nightmare” as a result of pharyngeal cancer and confessed to wanting to “leave soon and quickly”.
Thursday morning, Thomas Dutronc was the guest of Léa Salamé on France Inter to present this tribute concert. Asked about his mother’s state of health, he admits that “she is not in good spirits and her health is declining. We don’t dare push it too much but in a few years, it has deteriorated a lot.”
On December 17, the singer sent a moving open letter to the President of the Republic, asking him to relaunch the debates on end of life and euthanasia. Thomas Dutronc recalls that Françoise Hardy's mother “managed to be euthanized in 1990”, exhausted by Charcot's disease. But, for the moment, the interpreter of Comment te dire adieu does not wish to bow out and resort to assisted death: “Even if my mother is doing very poorly and walking with great difficulty, she is not yet in the state where one can wish to die,” warns his son. “She doesn’t want to die. She wants to stay for me, it's moving. She wants to transmit.”
“It makes this tribute somehow more necessary,” comments Sage for AFP, solo singer under this alias, who is also sound architect for others (Woodkid, Laurent Voulzy or even Eddy de Pretto). It is he who puts into shape this highlight of the festival, which begins on Friday. Sage knows that the singer got involved by suggesting to Didier Varrod a list of songs that she would like to see performed (so to speak, since she lives secluded at home).
If standards are to be expected - Personal Message, Comment te dire adieu, for example - the setlist must leave plenty of room for pieces little known to the general public. Such as The Question, which gives its name to a 1971 album, a song “very dear” to Keren Ann, as she tells AFP. The musician, embarked on the adventure, has already made numerous covers of this title.
This album, made with the Brazilian musician Tuca, whom I met in Paris, “gave me the feeling of moving up a level and I still consider it one of my best,” writes Françoise Hardy in her book Songs about you and us.
Keren Ann, who has “a particular tenderness” for Françoise Hardy and has met her often, points out her place in the musical world map. “I toured quite a bit in the United States and people talked to me more about Françoise than about Piaf, Aznavour or Montand. The French Touch, basically, is her.” It is also Françoise Hardy who alone represents France in the list of the 200 greatest singers of all time established by the American magazine Rolling Stone in 2023.
Also read: Françoise Hardy, 80 years old, hits and how many personal messages
To pay homage to this icon, more than a royal casting was necessary, a special device. Sage had “the desire to create a super-group, where each guest is not just there on a song, so that it is not just a parade of celebrities behind a microphone”. Son of Françoise Hardy and Jacques Dutronc, Thomas Dutronc, also in the credits, will therefore be able to sing or accompany another artist on the guitar. Other French pop stylists, like November Ultra or Albin de la Simone, complete the bill.
To release expected instruments like piano and guitar, P.R2B will play the clarinet and Voyou the trumpet. The group Astral Bakers - which releases a new album on February 9 - will serve as the basis for the whole. This will be Act I of this creation, called Personal Messages, which will have an Act II at Printemps de Bourges in April, with a different cast and repertoire.