“It’s unbearable for me, like booster vaccinations,” testifies Sylvie Vartan

“To be honest, as I kept looking at the images of everything that’s been happening in Ukraine to date, I’ve been blown away.”testified Thursday, May 12 on franceinfo Sylvie Vartan. “It’s like booster shots.” Sylvie Vartan has recorded a five-track album that includes The Marizzawhich the singer revisited and whose profits will be donated to Unicef ​​for the benefit of Ukraine.

Sylvie Vartan tells herself “to annoy” by what the Ukrainian people are going through. “I can totally put myself in the shoes of these kids.” She admits to reliving her departure from Bulgaria. “We did not flee the war, we fled a brutal dictatorship”but “It was the same principles that were applied”. With this album, which will be available for download from Friday and in physical form on May 27th, Sylvie Vartan hopes “to gather and touch the hearts of the greatest number”.

franceinfo: The Maritza is the river of your childhood in Bulgaria. These images of this terrible war in Ukraine resonated strongly with you. That’s what you say in this song. For whatever reasons?

Sylvie Vartan: This version that I chose for this CD is something very special. Because of course I added this text related to what is happening in Ukraine but also in other countries at other times. I experienced almost the same despair as I realized I would never see my loved ones again. We left them on a platform while they chased a train that was going far away but heading for freedom. So it was very intense and very mixed feelings of happiness. Because the train rolled towards freedom, which for us in this case was France. And at the same time, there was the desperation of leaving everyone we adored on a platform. It’s terribly heartbreaking. And it’s true that when I keep looking at the pictures of everything that’s been happening in Ukraine to date, I’ve honestly been blown away. It was unbearable for me, like booster shots. Not that I’ve forgotten what I went through. I never forgot. It’s like an eternally open wound. But it still brings tears to my eyes. It’s something that still excites me so much.

You were eight years old when you fled Bulgaria to France and Paris. Can you imagine the trauma of these children who fled the war in Ukraine, sometimes even without their parents?

But yeah, it’s awful, it’s frankly awful. I can totally empathize with these children. It’s unbearable for me. Because I know how scared I was, how scared I was, how thoughtful my parents were. Of course that has nothing to do with it. It’s worse for children who hear bombs constantly and for some who are separated from their parents. But what a horror! There can be no greater horror to see this country utterly demolished, utterly annihilated and these lives shattered forever. We weren’t fleeing war, we were fleeing a brutal dictatorship. The same principles were applied, the same parades, the same people disappearing for no reason. We didn’t know where they were. All because they didn’t put Stalin’s portrait on their balcony. Unfortunately, all of this comes from the same way of thinking, being and acting. But I couldn’t imagine, and I don’t think anyone in the world could imagine, that history could repeat itself like that.

Are you impressed by the resistance of the Ukrainians?

It is really incredible. It kind of reconciles with the human race, a specific human race. Because these people who have lost everything, who have taken a bag with them, nothing but the minimum, who are holding their children’s hands, who are on the run, who run non-stop without knowing where they are going, that deserves admiration. I think these people will go down in history for years and decades. I hope we will learn. But are we learning? Because the proof is that at the end of the day, it all starts all over again in even more terrifying ways.

What consolation could these Ukrainians have?

I think what also gives them courage is knowing that maybe the world has their back. Most of the world is behind them. And today, thanks to social networks, despite everything, we still know where the truth lies. And we must try to help, to relieve. But is there anything we can do when our hearts are touched like this and we see children lost all alone? We told them go straight, you will find the light. It is hopeless. It’s terrible.

A final word on the selection of these songs. It’s obviously not random. Can you tell us what dictated your choice?

Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to express my feelings through my songs. Anything that is true and touches you in an authentic way, physically, emotionally, has a greater resonance. It’s true that The Marizza set the tone for many writers to write me songs about courage and hope. That encouraged me to choose these songs. Then, regarding Odesa, it really felt like she was prescient. It’s a song by Jay Alanski that is absolutely inspired by the theme The Marizza. I sang it for the first time in 1998, 30 years later The Marizza, it’s crazy. And then Odesa, it is also the symbol of a woman leaving her husband on the quay. It is also the symbol of heartbreak, escape and the need for freedom. So those were standout songs for this project. And I’m glad it convinced Unicef ​​because maybe thanks to them there will be a bigger impact. And we will manage to collect the most and touch hearts.

Listen to the full interview with Sylvie Vartan here


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