I am sorry to inform everyone that Paris Combo’s charismatic vocalist Belle du Berry died yesterday, August 11, 2020. We had worked with Belle and Paris Combo for more that 20 years. She was a wonderful vocalist, center-stage attraction, mother, spouse, and an irreplaceable friend. My most sincere condolences to her family.

Bill Smith


Here is the report from today’s Le Monde:

Belle du Berry, chanteuse de Paris Combo, est morte

Belle du Berry avait également travaillé en 1992 avec le chorégraphe Philippe Découflé sur les ballets des cérémonies des Jeux olympiques d’Albertville.

Publié aujourd’hui à 11h26, mis à jour à 14h19

La chanteuse Belle du Berry, voix du groupe Paris Combo qui avait connu un joli succès dans les années 2000, enchaînant les scènes en France et à l’étranger, s’est éteinte dans la nuit de lundi à mardi, « emportée de façon subite par un cancer », a annoncé mercredi 12 août le groupe.

La chanteuse, qui était également autrice-compositrice, venait juste de terminer, à 54 ans, l’enregistrement d’un nouvel album de Paris Combo, a ajouté le groupe.

Disque d’or

Belle du Berry, de son vrai nom Bénédicte Grimault, s’était produite dans les années 1990 en duo dans de petites salles parisiennes, tendance cabaret, avec le musicien David Lewis. Leur rencontre avec d’autres musiciens de divers horizons donnera ensuite naissance en 1995 à Paris Combo, mélange d’influence jazz et de swing manouche.

Avec son deuxième album Living-Room sorti en 1999, le groupe deviendra disque d’or avec plus de 500 000 exemplaires vendus, avec en prime une nomination dans la catégorie révélation aux Victoires de la musique. Accro à la scène, le groupe enchaîne alors les concerts, en France, mais aussi à l’étranger, de l’Australie au Brésil, en passant par les Etats-Unis où il acquiert très vite une belle réputation.

En 2011, après une pause de cinq ans, Paris Combo s’était reformé à l’occasion d’une invitation à se produire au Hollywood Bowl, à Los Angeles, puis avait repris le chemin des studios d’enregistrement et des tournées. Leur dernier album en date, Tako Tsubo du nom du syndrome du « cœur brisé » –, est sorti en 2017.

Belle du Berry avait également travaillé en 1992 avec le chorégraphe Philippe Découflé sur les ballets des cérémonies des Jeux olympiques d’Albertville.

From Corrèze to the World

Mark Sampson chats to the dynamic French vocal sextet San Salvador during a brief moment at home in south-west France following a whirlwind 18 months of international touring.

From the tiny hamlet in which this group of childhood friends rehearse, you look across verdant, rolling pastures to the Monédière hills on the horizon. This is San Salvador’s territory: a part of the Corrèze, the ‘green country’ of La France Profonde, that’s virtually unknown to tourists. On my way here, I take a detour to look at the village of Saint-Salvadour, where the six members of the exciting polyphonic vocal group grew up together. By minor road from there to the rehearsal space they built together behind the house of Gabriel Durif, the group’s lead voice, you pass nothing but a few sombre looking farms and an occasional timber lorry….

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Hermeto Pascoal Wins 2019 Latin Grammy

We are very pleased to announce that on November 14, 2019, the 2019 Latin Grammy was awarded to Hermeto Pascoal in the category Best Portuguese Language Roots Album for his recording “Hermeto Pascoal E Sua Visão Original Do Forró” – Hermeto Pascoal (Scubidu Music).

When Nitin Sawhney was offered an OBE in 2007 for services to music, his father asked him to accept the order of chivalry for his birthday – but he turned it down, citing the Iraq War and saying he “could not handle the idea of the word ’empire'” after his name.

But 12 years later, Sawhney, 55, accepted a CBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list – as a way of paying tribute to his Indian parents’ “immigrant experience”.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the musician and composer told presenter Lauren Laverne all about the racist bullying he faced growing up in Rochester, Kent, in the 1970s.

Sawhney admitted that the physical and verbal attacks he experienced gave him a sense of “loathing” for the person that he was.

He told Laverne that, when he was offered an OBE in 2007, his father asked him to accept the order of chivalry for his birthday – but Sawhney refused, citing the Iraq War and his issues with the idea of ’empire’.

But Sawhney, who received the Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, admits that he has softened now – and took it as a “sign” when he was offered a CBE on what would have been his father’s birthday last year.

“I’m into signs so I kind of thought, ‘OK, I’m going to take it because it feels like I should,” said the musician, whose father passed away in 2013.

“I took it also because of the time we’re in. I wanted to acknowledge my mum and dad’s immigrant experience.

“And that’s what my dad said to me, ‘we worked really hard and we came here to give you a better life’.

“And that OBE at the time would have symbolised that.”

Sawhney was born to Indian parents in London in 1964, and attended school in Rochester, Kent.

Today, he can be recognised for his collaborations with everyone from Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, and the London Symphony Orchestra, to Ellie Goulding, Shakira and Taoi Cruz.

The Mercury Prize nominee once even met Nelson Mandela while recording an album.

But, opening up to Laverne about his childhood, Sawhney admitted that he had his fair share of “bad experiences”.

He said: “We had the National Front leafleting every day outside the school gates.

“Being followed home by a guy in a van with a loud hailer shouting racist abuse at me was pretty crazy as well.

“There was part of me that has a bit of loathing for that person. I actually felt that that person was a bit weak and pathetic.

“It’s odd, isn’t it, that that kind of mentality stays with you that you kind of feel a sense of shame about abuse of all kinds and trying to get past that is a real journey.

“In some ways that negativity, that feeling of shame, actually drove quite a lot of my creativity at the time. I wanted to not feel that way.”

Sawhney’s Desert Island Discs included Ennio Morricone’s A Fistful Of Dollars theme from the hit Western film, and Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi.