CONCERT REVIEW: Why on earth is this ‘La Vie En Rose’ not a global star?
Flossie Malavialle, ‘If I Have To Go’ Tour, Rippingale Village Hall
Southern Lincolnshire has often felt aggrieved about missing out on the stars of showbusiness who choose instead to perform in the UK’s major cities.
But anyone fortunate enough to be at Rippingale Village Hall on a night of pouring rain on Saturday can testify to a night of sheer French magic from spellbinding singer-guitarist Flossie Malavialle.
With Irish folk song “Teddy O’Neill” at one end, made famous by the Emerald Isle’s celebrated folkstress Delores Keane, and American singer-songwriter Tom Waits’ “If I Have To Go” at the other, everything in-between was pure bliss.
One after another, Flossie delivered a cuisine of world-renowned folk and pop classics, among them Paul McCartney’s “Early Days”, ABBA’s “Slipping Through My Fingers” and even “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack.
All these songs, plus Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”, “World of Hurt” by American country singer Beth Nielsen Chapman, “Luka” by American Suzanne Vega and Kris Kristofferson’s “Bobby McGee”, made famous by Janis Joplin, came with “va-va-voom” and “voila” from proud “Franglais” Flossie, who deserves to be a megastar on this showing.
Four years ago, I decided to apply for British citizenship because I thought ‘I live here and I want to stay here’ - but I’m still 100 per cent French
During an interval at her show, Flossie said: “Originally, I was an English teacher in southern France for 12 years.
“But I felt that I was losing my English skills so I applied for a teacher exchange programme and found a teacher to swap jobs with.
“She went over from northern England to France to teach English and I came to England to teach French.
“While here, I started going to a local folk club as I’d been singing in France for years and I then got introduced to the folk scene in northern England.
“After my teaching exchange ended, I went back to France and to my old school.
“But I missed the folk scene and the people I’d met here, so me and my two dogs came over to England in 2002.”
Apart from an agent based in Scotland, Flossie works alone in preparing and producing her albums and shows herself.
Flossie’s audience in Rippingale on Saturday night were treated to her version of French chanteuse Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose” (one of the songs on Flossie’s third album, Hymne A L’Amour - Flossie Sings Piaf).
Another song performed by Flossie was “Le Port D’Amsterdam”, both written and made famous by late Belgian singer and actor Jacques Brel.
Flossie said: “There are so many nice songs to sing and I love so many different styles of music, even though my mum was a classical pianist.
“But what I experienced on my teaching exchange in northern England, the music scene and the friendliness of people in northern England, gave me something I could hold onto during a time when my teaching was really hard work.
“I came back to England to give singing a go, while doing some supply work as a teacher at the same time as I build my reputation as a singer.
“Moving to a different country and a different culture was a challenge for me, but I found that people here love the songs of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.”
Flossie’s tour bears the title of her latest album, If I Have to Go, written by Waits who one music critic described as having a singing voice “soaked in a vat of bourbon”.
Songs on the album include Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”, Sailing by Christopher Cross, “What a Wonderful World” (a UK number one in 1968 for Louis Armstrong) and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”.
Flossie said: “The people I sing to are older then me and they are happy to buy my CDs as a reminder to them of the concerts.
“When I was growing up, I absolutely loved The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Manhattan Transfer, proper rhythm and blues, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.
“I also love English as a language and four years ago, I decided to apply for British citizenship when I thought ‘I live here and want to stay here’.
“But I’m still 100 per cent French and I still have my French passport.
“Having said that, I did a gig in Rippingale for Chris Petz three years ago and he said it was time to come back because the people there like a variety of music styles.
“But most importantly of all, both of my parents are pleased that I’m doing okay and they are very happy for me.”
Flossie Malavialle is a French-born singer, based in the North East of England since 2002
Review and interview by Winston Brown