Gareth Cattermole, Getty As Spinner sits down to interview Martha Wainwright,…
- Posted on Nov 9th 2011 1:30PM by Kelly Mahan
Neil Rasmus, BFA
The intimate affair consisted mainly of Wainwright's friends and family, including her brother Rufus, who formed a cheering section at the top of the stairs to support her every word.
Decked out in jewelry from Azagury-Partridge, 'Wizard of Oz'-style striped tights and a French twist, Wainwright and pianist Thomas Bartlett took the stage, which in this case was a small balcony overlooking the glow of La Grenouille's main floor.
With the release of her first note, friends pressed against wine racks and stared up in adoration, absorbing Wainwright's rendition of Edith Piaf's 1957 classic 'La Foule.' Friends smiled as, in true Piaf-style, she poured over the balcony along with her printed-out lyrics, tackling each note with the same intensity as Bartlett's chord progressions.
"It's nice to be able to attach my own life to it," Martha explained to Spinner when 'Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, À Paris' was first released. "I'm not an actor and this is not a recreation of Piaf, so it's important for me as an artist to be able to feel these songs. That's probably why I picked these specific songs, because there was something in them that spoke to me."
The singer moved gracefully from Piaf to her own music, donning a guitar and a powerful, gritty tone with each song. Her fifth song was an emotional piece she wrote about the loss of her mother, Kate McGarrigle, to sarcoma. The Wainwrights have famously worn their hearts on their collective sleeve, but this song was written by a changed artist, one who has focused the last two years on singing Piaf, an emotional boot camp that would affect any artist's work for the better.
"I don't think people are necessarily going to be able to detect Piaf [in my music] from now on," she explained in the same interview. "But at the same time I think that singing this [material] is really hard, and all of the things that you put your voice through must have an effect on how you can then use your voice later."
She left the stage while cheers abounded, the most coming from Rufus, who nudged her to sing another. For the encore, she dedicated 'Tell My Sister,' a song written by her mother, to Rufus and, like a supportive stage mom, he mouthed every word, grinning from ear to ear.