In my teenage years, Corneille’s tune “Avec Classe” was a major hit. Indeed, what girl doesn’t want to be respectfully wooed into believing she is the most unique specimen on earth 😉
In the song, Corneille begs me to listen to him. He promises that he’s not like the other ‘flashy’ guys because he can discern that I am not impressed by cash. In “Avec Classe”, Corneille promises that, if I’d allow, he would admire my interior beauty with class. That he’d desire me with class, that my smile and my voice are enough to make him lose his head…that he truly is sincere…Then, he shouts out to his male friends that men owe women a little respect after all, since every man has a sister and their mothers were young too…a new school that Corneille guarantees every man will join at some point in life.
Up until this week, Corneille was just that flirtatious singer, with a charming voice and a cool style. I knew his parents were Africans, that they were killed during a war and he had to run for his life at a young age, but I did not look beyond his smarts and melody. However, if you’ve been following me, you may have noticed that I have been on memory lane lately. As I was looking for new artists, Spotify recommended some French Canadian musician based on my history (you see, I had recently listened to “Quand tu danses”, a remix of Jean-Jacques Goldman’s hit song, reprised by Corneille as part of the Generation Goldman effort*). Ok, back to THE story 🙂
Instead of clicking on the artist, I chose to look at Corneille’s portfolio and listen to some oldies. Of course, Spotify did not have any of those, but a few of his later hits. I then decided to google Corneille and listen to his songs on YouTube. There appeared his biography on Wikipedia…and my heart melted for the young man born in Germany who grew up in Rwanda and had to watch his parents, brothers and sisters killed during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. I will leave the Rwandan Genocide for future days if I gather enough strength and time to accurately summarize it. Today, I want to focus on Corneille and his music.
His biography states that Corneille enjoyed music during his teens and was getting his group together when the genocide took place. As he moved from Rwanda to Congo-Kinshasa to Germany and finally to Canada, music remained his outlet. I do not know Corneille personally, nor can I pretend to be a steady fan. I will not pretend to completely understand his pain either, but I can relate even if only to the smallest extent because the exposure I have had to war has marked me for life. I was not physically hurt but I remember the trauma that comes with the prospect of pain and death at any point of time. I remember images of dying women, raped little girls, and children being forced to join militant groups. I remember the panic in my dad’s voice. I remember my uncle’s determination to protect my mom, my baby brother and I…He did not even care for his own life, focusing solely on us.
War and difficult times can leave any one bitter, angry, lost. I do not know if this applies to Corneille, but his songs seem to convey the image of a man who’s been hurt at his core but still finds a way to smile at life. His tunes are upbeat though the lyrics are deeply sad at times. I am curious if this is his true personality (or maybe not, maybe it is better to know the minimum), and if so, what has helped him move past war and its massacres. In my case and many others’, the bible truth has brought into light the origin of suffering while giving a hope for the future. So we keep on living each day to the fullest, ‘as if it were our last one…because we come from so far’, would say Corneille. Then, again, how to properly live one’s life to the fullest is another topic 🙂
Yes, I am impressed that Corneille’s songs convey good manners (I hope they all do!), respect for women and letting go. They are definitely fresh air from the painfully explicit but empty lyrics so in vogue nowadays…or am I just a twenty-something old soul.
In any case, let’s listen to Corneille together. See video links for “Avec Classe”, “Le Bar des Sentimentalistes“, “Parce qu’On Vient de Loin“, “Toi“, “Si Tu Savais“, “Je Me Pardonne” and “Ensemble“. His English album on Amazon HERE.
*Generation Goldman (I and II) is a compilation of Jean-Jacques Goldman’s hits, as remixed by today’s popular French/Canadian/European singers in an effort to honor Goldman and introduce the younger generation to his profound music.
Images courtesy of blogues.lapresse.ca, Youtube and Google.