Jean-Pierre Marcellesi: author, composer, performer…

Jean-Pierre, 10 years ago you gave us an interview, your album “Solu Mai” was in preparation, what’s happened since then?

A lot has happened since then!

During a concert at La Trinité in Bonifacio, I had a precious encounter that gave me the chance to go to Montreal to do a voluntary concert for the Jasmin Roy – Sophie Desmarais Foundation, a foundation that fights against all forms of discrimination.

I went on to record the album ‘Una Mani’ in a legendary studio in Brussels -LCP studios- with my stage musicians and prestigious guests such as Christophe Maé, Grand Corps Malade, Manu Katché and Senegalese singer Woz Kaly, as well as duets with Cuban singer and musician Piro Barrios.

After the launch, we hit the road again, playing concerts in Corsica and elsewhere.

With my musician and composer friend Nico Zimako (son of footballer Jacques Zimako), I also wrote and co-wrote a number of film scores, including “Le permis de construire” by Éric Fraticelli, as well as TV films and documentaries for Canal Plus.

Your new album has just been released. What was the inspiration behind it?

It’s a multi-coloured album on the themes of travel, encounters, other people, life, family, friendship and love of course.

I believe in beautiful encounters; they are what have enabled me to realise some of my dreams. Beautiful people, at the right time… They will recognise themselves and I thank them sincerely.

Even today, an exceptional man of Italian origin and a great lover of music has asked me to produce my latest album, ‘Amico Mio’, due for release in the summer of 2023. A man who has become a friend, Éric Ferrari. He is also co-writer of the album’s eponymous track, which it seemed obvious for us to sing together.

There are also other duets with Patrick Mattei, Piro Barrios and my son Hugo. A real pleasure! The icing on the cake is that Daniel Auteuil has come along to lend his voice in friendship, and the moment is sublime.

What are your influences and how do you translate them?

My music is influenced by sounds, sonorities and tunes from all over the world. There’s Latin America and Africa mixed with the Mediterranean… Corsica is omnipresent, of course, as is Italy, Brazil and Cape Verde… There’s rap, but also a folk-blues sound.

I don’t have a precise recipe, I just think that an album allows you to express yourself and, just like in cooking, you incorporate your favourite ingredients in the right proportions.

I like working and I like collaborating with certain authors like my faithful accomplice Alain Di Meglio or Jean-Charles Papi, Patrick Mattei and Piro Barrios.

Any film music projects?

Yes, I love composing music for films, TV films, documentaries and short films. At the moment I’m working on a feature film with my brother at heart, Rachid Benzine, who is a genius in his field and has already written many books, collections and novels, some of which, like “Lettres à Nour”, have been performed in theatres all over Europe. We’re currently writing the film and hope to have it ready for shooting by the end of 2024. What a wonderful story!

You left an indelible mark on the nights of the cabaret La Taverne du Roi in Porto Vecchio. Do you find the same harmony with the public at your concerts?

La Taverne du Roi… Oh yes, so many memories, so many good times! Meetings with the public, but also with singers and musicians who left their mark on the stone walls of the Genœse gateway. People were out all the time, having fun, sharing and celebrating. The atmosphere of the ‘Alba’ years was truly exceptional…

Times have changed, and too quickly for my liking. But I’m still looking for that magical communion with my audience. In concert, I deliberately recreate the cabaret atmosphere I love so much. It’s the best school for me.

Where will you be in the coming months?

First we’ll be in residence for rehearsals, then we’ll be heading back to Corsica for a summer tour and to promote the new album.

But we’re already working towards 2024 with a tour of Italy and various festivals thanks to an Italian tour operator who’s fallen under the spell of our music. I say “our” because an album or a concert can’t be done alone; there are the musicians and me.

How do you see the island’s musical landscape?

Corsica is a wellspring of talent, of different voices and outstanding musicians. Is there a family in Corsica without a singer or a music lover? No!

What’s more, we are and always have been a people of joy, an island where “macagna” has its place everywhere in towns and villages, in cafés and squares, an island where you certainly have to be serious, but where you don’t take yourself too seriously. Our profession allows us to express ourselves, to share our thoughts, but also our doubts and anxieties, our passions, our commitments, be they political or otherwise, but above all it is a profession that allows us to have this FREEDOM to think, at least I hope so. Thank you to all our masters, like Antoine Ciosi, Charles Rocchi and all those fabulous singers. Thanks to groups like I Muvrini, Canta u Populu Corsu, I Chjami Aghjalesi, A Filetta, I Surghjenti and others who opened the way for us… We’ve sung them everywhere, they’ve been part of our lives and they’ve given us the desire to carry on the torch… We owe them a debt of gratitude and immense respect. I’d like to thank them all. And well done to all the new singers and groups who are the pride of our island and who are enriching our heritage more and more. I’m proud to be Corsican. Thank you.

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