Lara Fabian

Fifty and fabulous

By Sabrina Jonas

October 8th, 2017. Lara Fabian knows the exact date she moved back to Montreal, this time with her husband and daughter. It turned out the recording booths in Belgium and the stages in the south of Spain were no match for our city’s big charm. Thirty years after stepping foot on what she then called paradise, Ms. Fabian now calls home.

“You know, where you’re born is normally where you’re from. But then, you land in a place that becomes your second birth. That’s where you realize this is your country, your mentality; it’s so familiar. This is what happened to me in Quebec,” said the Belgium-born, Sicily-raised singer-songwriter.

You could say this perceptive passion for her roots is what led the pop star to the distinguished career she has today but began forging long before her Canadian citizenship. “My mother and grandmother were both great singers; my dad would grab a guitar then all of us would be singing songs we loved. It’s how we shared a Sunday together,” said Ms. Fabian of her musical childhood. “I was contaminated by the joy of sharing music, not by the will or the wish of becoming a star — it was about sharing the moments that would bring us together.”

After her 30-year long vocational journey, with 20 million records sold worldwide and her status of best-selling Belgianborn female artist of all time, Ms. Fabian never lost sight of her reason for performing. That’s why, to celebrate her 50th birthday and 30th year in the industry, she chose to share herself in concert around the world, a tour she’s entitled “50 World Tour.” “The idea is to do 50 dates and visit almost 35 cities to celebrate these two anniversaries and to say thank you to all these people that have made me who I am. It could have been called ‘the gratitude tour,’” she noted.

Although the tour name acknowledges the milestone that is her golden jubilee, to Ms. Fabian, 50 is simply a number that she regards with generosity. “To me, this number is the capacity that you have gathered throughout the years to look at your journey with a certain amount of kindness and goodwill, and finally tasting moment after moment.” But to our household name, summarizing a journey in a number is “a little reductive,” she said, stating that the significance of her tour lies more in merci than bonne fête.

Indeed, recapping Ms. Fabian’s journey is no easy task. After winning multiple European singing contests in her youth, the then 20-year-old took a leap of faith and moved to Montreal to kick-start her musical career. Here, after releasing her first selftitled French album came her breakthrough one, Carpe Diem. With fluency in four languages, her lyrical talent flourished in our multilingual metropolis, which allowed her to spread her wings and springboard from country to country and continent to continent with her increasing fame. Walt Disney Studios even cast her as Esmeralda in the French version of the feature film, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Fast forward to the 2000s when you couldn’t turn on the radio or go out dancing without hearing Ms. Fabian’s No. 1 hit, “I Will Love Again”, one of the greatest party tracks of the decade. Add to that her anti-homophobia anthem “La différence”, heartbreak hymn “Je suis malade”, and 14 albums, countless singles and prestigious honours by the Felix Awards, the IFPI Platinum Europe Awards, and World Music Awards.

With what can only be described as a reputable career, one can imagine what it must have taken for Ms. Fabian to secure her place in the music industry. The star chalks that up to the dreamer within. “Looking back, I think if I hadn’t been naïve, if I hadn’t believed in certain unbelievable things or nurtured this dream, I would never have gone this far. The child in me is definitely the one that made me go through this journey.” 

And Ms. Fabian said her 12-year-old child, Lou, is what keeps her going today, saying she’s the reason behind her indefatigable determination. “I feel that when Lou looks at me that I’m somehow an inspiration for her. That I’m 50, but I’m still working the way I am and still doing what I do at the level that I’m doing it. She looks at me with a lot of pride and to see that my little girl is happy that I'm her mom... that inspires me.”

As a mother before all else, Ms. Fabian doesn’t let her celebrity status get in the way of family time. Between working as a judge on France’s The Voice: la plus belle voix and flying across the globe for her 50 World Tour, she cherishes every moment she gets to spend in her quaint home here in Westmount. “When your life is an airplane mixed with a suitcase, it’s very important when you come back home to have simplicity and an ordinary life. We cook together, watch movies together, like any normal family would.”

Well, any normal family from Montreal, that is. They love to mosey around, smelling every rose along the way; they spend afternoons at Mount Royal together — their fur baby included; they go to the market to pick the freshest ingredients, ones Ms. Fabian will later cook with alongside her daughter.

It’s no wonder she says cooking is her second passion, what with all that bonus family time. Keen on living a healthy lifestyle, the singer’s palette is quite precise. She stays away from gluten, lactose and meats, shifting from vegetarian to vegan. She fuels her body with tons of vegetables, healthy juices, and squeezes in Pilates and yoga whenever she can.

When it comes to taking care of her precious pipes, Ms. Fabian admits a big part of her process is a good night’s sleep. “If I don’t get my nine to 10 hours, my voice doesn’t respond in the same way. So, sleep is the first thing I do. Secondly, I don’t smoke or do anything that could damage my health,” she said, conceding that a glass of wine never hurt anyone.

But her main secret to keeping healthy is surrounding herself with good people. “To have energy around you, to be in a place where there’s a healthy way of thinking...that makes all the difference to me.”

Ms. Fabian is all about finding happiness in every corner of her life. That’s why, if she could give her younger self one piece of advice, it would be to understand that happiness is an action followed by a state of mind, not the opposite. “It isn’t a concept. You concretely involve yourself in happiness and it’s something that you commit yourself to and speak to for a lifetime,” she explained in perfect prose.

Ms. Fabian’s talent and resilience are the gifts that keep on giving. Her complexities run deeper than her raw vocal and lyrical abilities, residing in both her cultural background and free-spirited outlook on life — one that is unequivocally and irrefutably Quebecoise.

 

Spring 2020, Vol 12 N°2

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