Of love or friendship | Safia and Pomme will sing Céline in Lac-Mégantic

All men’s gold is worth nothing if Celine Dion’s songs are far from Safia Nolin. “When I say I love him, it’s not a joke, it’s not ironic. For me it’s a queen ! And it is this queen that she will honor next summer at the Chapelle du rang 1 in Lac-Mégantic, alongside Pomme, in a show presented as a Quebec premiere, Of love or friendship.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Dominique Tardif

Dominique Tardif
The Press

“I talk all the time, all the time about Céline,” laughs Safia Nolin about the woman who once made her want to become a singer herself. The enthusiasm of the little girl from Limoilou, when she launches into a lyrical flight about the little girl from Charlemagne, is so exhilarating that Pomme (Claire Pommet), Safia’s great accomplice, has gradually won over by the charms of this titanic work. “The buzz is more recent for Claire, but it’s very intense. »

When they were contacted by the organizers of the Printemps de Bourges, who wanted to entrust the two author-composers with the creation of a new show, it was obvious: it was not enough to love Céline, it was also necessary to to celebrate.

Entitled Of love or friendshipthe tribute show, woven with stripped down interpretations of refrains drawn from the entire Celinian repertoire, will be given on April 21 in France, as well as once in Quebec, on July 22, at the Chapelle du rang 1 de Lac -Mégantic, former church in the heart of which only 60 privileged people can take communion each evening.

“Polaroid of a moment in life when Claire and I imagined spending time with Céline in a chalet, playing all her tunes”, this hosanna in honor of the diva will be an opportunity for those who have often sung by Dion (notably on his album Covers Vol. 1) to offer a portrait of for Celine. A portrait at the antipodes of the one sketched in broad strokes by Valérie Lemercier in A linea film which, according to Safia, misrepresents her idol.

Pour moi, Céline, c’est une des plus grandes chanteuses ! Il y avait tellement peu de chances que tout ce qui lui est arrivé lui arrive. Et elle a tellement travaillé fort. Mais dans Aline, c’est comme si elle ne prenait jamais de décisions, qu’elle n’était qu’un pantin, qu’elle n’avait aucun contrôle sur sa vie et sa carrière. Valérie Lemercier s’est payé un trip sur Céline, et j’ai trouvé ça tough, en plus que ça ridiculisait beaucoup les Québécois.

Safia Nolin

Un café avec Céline

Entrelacé d’extraits d’entrevues accordées au fil des années par la chanteuse pas ordinaire, D’amour ou d’amitié permettra aussi à Safia Nolin et Pomme de rappeler qu’au-delà de ses occasionnelles élucubrations philosophico-cryptiques, Céline Dion a très tôt posé un regard d’une terrible lucidité sur les pièges qui jonchent l’autoroute du show-business.


Pomme, aux Victoires de la musique, en février 2021

Déjà dans sa vingtaine, elle était très éloquente quand elle s’exprimait sur son rapport au vedettariat. J’aimerais ça qu’on parle plus de ce côté-là d’elle, qu’on la ridiculise moins. Céline n’a pas la langue dans sa poche. Quand elle a dit “Take a kayak” [dans un entretien accordé à Larry King après l’ouragan Katrina, en 2005]it wasn’t funny at all, it was a cry from the heart. She told the whole country that it didn’t make sense for the Bush administration to let the people of New Orleans die. It was badass.

Safia Nolin

It is therefore both to the woman, to the citizen and to the artist that the two friends will present their musical offerings, in the absence of being able to spend a weekend in her company. Safia and Céline have nevertheless already met, briefly, backstage at the ADISQ gala in 2016, then during the tour’s stop at the Videotron Center Couragein 2019.

“Me, my dream would be to be able to have a coffee with her, to ask her: How are you. What is your life? Do you have friends ? Have a real conversation. In Quebec, it was very brief, I told her that I found her beautiful, we talked a little and that was it. I was with my sister and my sister-in-law, and there, when we took the picture, I said, “We look like a blended family of lesbians.” Celine replied:Yesyou have to take charge in life!” It was magical. »

Safia Nolin and Apple: Méganticoises by adoption

As a child, Safia Nolin went every summer with her parents to spend a few weeks at the Mercier campground in Frontenac, a neighboring village of Lac-Mégantic. She set foot there for the first time after decades in 2017, during the inaugural season of the Chapelle du rang 1, an Anglican church erected in 1891, now converted into a performance hall, one of more intimate in Quebec. Safia Nolin and Claire Pommet quickly became regulars on this scene, to the point that Pomme is sometimes nicknamed “the most Méganticoise of French singers”.


The Chapel of rank 1 of Lac-Mégantic

After two seasons turned upside down by COVID-19, the Chapel is back in service on July 2 for a show by Geoffroy. Ariane Moffatt, Fanny Bloom, Étienne Coppée, Choses Sauvages, Valence and Martha Wainwright will also go for a ride next summer in the Granit region. The outdoor music and circus festival, Colline, will be back for a second edition, from August 11 to 14, with P’tit Belliveau, the Projet Sanctuaire collective and Tire le coyote. “I consider myself lucky, says Safia Nolin, to have been able to see what Mégantic was like before [la tragédie ferroviaire de 2013] and I feel lucky to see what it’s become now, to attend initiatives that put Mégantic on the map, like that of Hubert [Lavallée-Bellefleur, le jeune directeur général et artistique de la Chapelle et de Colline]. This room has a magical aura. You feel like you’re in your living room with people you know. »

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