Carla Bruni - Biography

By Nick Castro


Singer/songwriter Carla Bruni was born in Turin, Italy in 1967, an heiress to an Italian tire manufacturing company. Her family escaped to France when Carla was a small child, apparently under threat of kidnapping by the Red Brigades, a Marxist terrorist group. Her mother a concert pianist and father a part time opera composer, Bruni's childhood was steeped in music. A story came out that in fact, her biological father was a classical guitarist with whom her mother had had an affair. She learned to play piano and guitar at a young age. Having been educated at a prestigious boarding school in Switzerland, Carla returned to France to study art and architecture in Paris. There, she instead became an overnight success in the modeling world when GUESS? designer Paul Marciano chose the 19 year old to appear in his hugely popular 80's ad campaign, which became known for giving major "supermodels" their start.


Bruni would soon walk the runway and appear in the campaigns of major fashion lines including Prada, Chanel, Christian Dior and Givenchy.  During this period, Bruni developed quite a reputation for supposedly causing the break-ups of some major celebrity marriages. " Jerry Hall apparently blames her breakup with Mick Jagger on his extramarital affair with Bruni. Though less clear, some have said she was also responsible for the break up of Donald Trump and Marla Maples. Also associated with Kevin Costner, Eric Clapton, the former Prime Minister of France and various other European celebrities, she once said "I am a tamer (of men), a cat, an Italian. Monogamy bores me terribly," and "Love lasts a long time, but burning desire - two to three weeks."


Though very successful as a model for over a decade, gracing the covers of some 250 magazines, Bruni reportedly found the modeling world to be a shallow one and sought to live out her childhood dream of being a singer and songwriter. Her first foray into this world was as a songwriter for popular French singer Julien Clerc on his album Si j'etais elle (If I Were Her). In 2002 , with the help of composer, producer and ex-lover Louis Bertignac of the French Seventies rock group Telephone, Bruni released her debut album Quelqu'un m'a dit (Someone Told Me). With it's pretty, folk styling, this recording emphasized her lilting and breathy vocals, accompanied primarily by simple acoustic guitar and light percussion. With touches of jazz and even blues and americana, the album was a hit and sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide, despite somewhat poor reviews from the French press who perceived it as old-fashioned and too folk. Three songs from the album can be heard in Hans Canosa's 2005 American film Conversations with Other Women. The track "Le Plus Beau du Quartier" was the theme music for H&M's 2006 Christmas commercial.


In 2005, Bruni made a guest appearance on Louis Bertignac's return album in the song Les Frôleuses which they sang as a duet.


In 2006, Bruni recorded an English-language translation of the Serge Gainsbourg song "Ces Petits Riens" (Those Little Things), for the tribute album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited. The influence of Gainsbourg's work is evident throughout Bruni's recordings.


Her second album, No Promises, was a collection of poems by William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, W. H. Auden, Dorothy Parker, Walter de la Mare, and Christina Rosetti, set to music. Bruni has said that English pop music icon Marianne Faithfull influenced and educated her on the subject of English poetry. Of this 2007 release, the UK publication The Observer said "Poetry set to music can sound hopelessly mannered, but Bruni's songs combine just the right mix of reverence and anarchy... Bruni's voice is oddly unfeminine, in the best possible way. Her growly reading of Auden's 'Lady Weeping at the Crossroads' could be a Cohen classic." Louis Bertignac was again the producer on No Promises. There is talk that Bruni intends to one day make an album of French verse as well.


In November 2007, Bruni met Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France. He was recently divorced and after a whirlwind romance, the two married in February 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris. After their wedding, Bruni officially gave up her Italian citizenship in favor of French nationality.


With her newfound status as France's First Lady, Bruni continued her music career with the 2008 release of her third album, Comme Si de Rien N'Était (As If Nothing Happened). Incorporating keyboards, woodwinds and touches of orchestration, Bruni explores new territory but never strays far from her signature folk/pop style. Many have speculated that the lyrical content of this release relates directly to recent events in Bruni's life, focusing on her new marriage to Sarkosy, though Bruni claims to have written most of the material prior to meeting the french President. On the track "Yours", Bruni sings, "I who always sought fire/I am burning for you like a pagan woman/I who made men dance/To you I give myself entirely."


Carla Bruni continues to make appearances on stage and on French television to support her music. As First Lady of France she accompanies Sarkozy in his state visits and other international events, meeting influential world leaders such as the Dali Llama, and sometimes causing controversy such as when Christi's auction house sold a nude photograph of Bruni for $91,000 the day before her first visit to the UK as Sarcozy's new wife. Another controversy cropped up when discount airline, Ryanair used a photo of the couple in an advertisement . The couple sued in a widely publicized trial and won. They then donated the proceeds to Les Restos du Cœur, an organization which provides meals to the homeless. Royalties from Bruni's last album are also being donated to humanitarian causes.


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