French icon Sylvie Vartan calls on her Bulgarian past

16th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

ISKRETZ, Bulgaria, Dec 16 (AFP) - Legendary French singer Sylvie Vartan took an emotional journey back into her past Thursday, when she visited her native village of Iskretz in northwest Bulgaria, which her family fled in 1952.

ISKRETZ, Bulgaria, Dec 16 (AFP) - Legendary French singer Sylvie Vartan took an emotional journey back into her past Thursday, when she visited her native village of Iskretz in northwest Bulgaria, which her family fled in 1952.

"Goodness, I have lived up to see a world star," exclaimed an old lady from the crowd of about 100 villagers who had gathered to welcome the singer with a banner reading "Sylvie, we love you."

Ilya Iliev, a retired miner of 59, was so moved that he started to sing in Bulgarian, "This evening I will be the most beautiful, the most beautiful on the dance floor," one of the most well-known of Vartan's songs.

Dressed up in white and adorned with flowers, the ex-wife of French pop singer Johnny Hallyday, 61, was moved to tears.

Mixing Bulgarian with French, she said: "Life begins where you were born... I have heard my mother speak a lot about Iskretz. For me Bulgaria is a country of love and nostalgia, the country of my parents, to which I feel strongly attached."

Daughter of a Bulgarian father of Armenian descent, who worked at the French mission in Sofia, and a Hungarian mother, Sylvie Vartan was born in August 1944 in Iskretz.

The town held the nearest hospital to the village of Lakatnik, where the family was evacuated during World War II.

In her autobiography "Between the shadow and the light", which is to be published Friday in Bulgarian in Sofia, the 60-year-old singer wrote about the heartbreak of her departure from Bulgaria at the age of seven.

"I still miss my grandfather and I hate departures," she told AFP in Iskretz.

Already a star in France, Vartan refused to return to Bulgaria until a year after the fall of the communist regime in 1990, when she had her first concert in Bulgaria.

"The concert ended with 'Mila Rodino' ('Dear Homeland'), the old national anthem, banned during communism, and the hall started singing along with me," she said.

Almost 15 years later, Sylvie Vartan is optimistic. "I find that great progress has been made," she said.

"In only two years Bulgaria will join the European Union," she said, adding: "Things cannot change in a day with the movement of a magic stick."

Since 1990, with the help of her brother Eddy Vartan, she has also been making charity donations to hospitals and orphanages through her organisation "Sylvie Vartan for Bulgaria".

She received Wednesday an award from Bulgarian President Georgy Parvanov for this humanitarian work.

On Thursday in Sofia, Vartan gave a concert together with a children's choir, to 200 orphaned children.

In 1997, she and her American husband Tony Scotti adopted a Bulgarian girl, Darina, now seven years old.

She also in 1997 took on Bulgarian citizenship.

"My heart is Bulgarian. I so much wanted to adopt a Bulgarian girl: I told myself we will share an emotional bond," she said.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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