Brigitte Zarie’s newest album pays homage to her mother, who passed away in March during the recording of this record.
“[The songs] are all reflections looking back on how much influence my mother had over me,” Zarie said.
One track particularly stands out to her. She was singing along with her mother, as she often did. Her mother was also a singer. “I used to watch her in awe and hope one day I could sing like her,” she said. That day, “she told me, ‘I don’t want to hear nobody else but you.’”
So Zarie took that line and turned it into a song called Nobody Else.
She’s known for her original songwriting, recording her own songs rather than creating cover versions of classic jazz tunes.
“I have a pretty snobbish approach to art,” she said. “I need to write from my own experiences.”
But for her mother, she made an exception, performing Johnny Cash’s song Walk the Line.
“That was her favourite movie [of the same name], and she just kept always wanting us to see it again,” she said.
That song in particular was her mother’s favourite, so she decided to cover it, in honour to her.
Zarie is working on a new song titled Marie, her mother’s name. “That’s the name of the new song, in honour of her,” she said. “She was a beautiful, amazing woman. She made a huge mark in my life, and every day that goes by is a day I remember her and talk about her.”
Zarie, who is originally from Toronto, has lived in New York for 15 years, having originally moved there to pursue a music career. Initially, she found success singing for commercials and movies. Though she has released two albums of her own music, she continues to do commercials.
“It’s more strict because you’re on a timeline, and you have to sing within the 30 or 60 seconds of the commercial,” she said, adding that it’s different being guided to write based on a film, rather than being inspired, perhaps, by a broken heart.
Her new album, L’amour, continues her tradition of recording a couple songs in French, to honour her French Moroccan heritage. “It’s my upbringing, so it’s out of respect that I do French songs,” she said, adding that she has a lot of French-speaking fans.
Zarie has been quite active in the social media world, using it as a way to connect to her fans. These platforms help her learn more about her fans, and thus tell her where she should be touring.
For example, she’s working on a new song that’s done as a samba. She wrote it to say thanks to her many Brazilian fans, many of whom she has met through her Facebook and Twitter pages.
“I love tweeting,” Zarie said. “It’s nice to have this social outlet medium to let people know what’s going on.”
She has almost 11,000 Twitter followers, and around 13,600 on Facebook, so her short messages reach a huge number of people at once.
Lots of her messages have to do with food. In particular, she’s a huge fan of chocolate.
“It’s like a standing joke with my Twitter followers that anything that makes me really happy or anything that excites me, I need to have chocolate,” she said. But she’s very much into health as well, she added. “I only eat organic food.”
Having had the experience of releasing one album, Zarie said she approached the recording of the second one feeling like a whole different artist.
While her first album was filled with big band songs, she wanted to take the second album in a different direction – one that a listener could enjoy in quieter scenes.
“It’s a whole different world for me,” she said. “I just felt more experienced, more aware of my art and where I wanted to go and what I didn’t want to do.”
Now she has grown even more, having faced the loss of her mother. The album liner notes say that her music, now and forever, will be dedicated to her mother, “who is my inspiration and will live in my heart eternally.”
“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for her,” Zarie said, adding that her musician father was also a major inspiration for her. But she wants to make sure her mother can watch her and feel proud of her from heaven.
“She’s my guiding force for the rest of my life,” Zarie said. “Everything I do will be in honour of her.”
For more information about Zarie, visit brigittezarie.com.