Last year I received an invitation from Connie Fredericks to attend the unveiling of a commemorative plaque of her late sister, recording artist Carole Fredericks, which was installed by the city of Paris outside the building she lived in for ten years.
I couldn’t attend the unveiling but kept in touch with Connie. Connie emailed me in April to say she was coming to Paris for two months and wanted to meet me so she can tell me about her sister.
I met Connie and her husband Jim for lunch and we hit it off immediately. They now live in upstate New York but had lived in NYC most of their lives. Connie was a singer and actress and of course we talked forever about New York theater, movies, TV, music, etc. and Jim worked as a counselor in the New York City school system. Connie comes from a talented musical family: her older brother is Taj Mahal and her sister Carole was a much loved and renowned singer in France. As much as I loved talking to Carol and Jim about life in New York, the main purpose of the lunch was for Connie to share about her sister Carole’s legacy and memory.
I was fascinated by Connie’s story of Carole.
Raised in Springfield, Mass., Carole moved to San Francisco after high school and started singing backup on Taj Mahal’s recordings and also establishing herself in her own right by joining the Oakland New Generation Gospel Choir.
Singing in a French restaurant in Napa Valley in the mid-70s, Carole got her first taste of France. The restaurant owners turned Carole on to the legendary story of Josephine Baker, encouraging Carole to make the bold move to Paris, where they believed she would prosper like Josephine. Inspired by their belief, Carole arrived in Paris in 1979 and within weeks was working as a backup singer. She learned French quickly and was soon singing backup with major recording artists including Vanessa Paradis, Johnny Hallyday, Céline Dion, and Serge Gainsbourg.
In the late 80s, Carole was approached by Jean-Jacques Goldman, a Grammy winning singer, musician, and music producer and the second best-selling recording artist in France after Johnny Hallyday, to record with him.They went on to form the group Fredericks, Goldman, Jones and their first album sold over a million copies, now turning Carole into a superstar singer in France. She went on to have numerous successful recordings in the 1990s with three solo albums and five with Fredericks, Goldman, Jones. In between recordings and singing engagements Carole tirelessly raised money for various charities including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Amnesty International, and the Pan-African Children’s Hospital in Dakar.
On June 7, 2001 Carole died unexpectedly while on a fundraising tour in Dakar at the tender age of 49. Shocked by Carole’s untimely death, the family grieved. Her sister Connie didn’t want her sister’s vibrant music and unique voice to go into obscurity, so she started a foundation to preserve Carole’s legacy.
At the end of lunch, Connie gave me one of Carole’s CD’s and I liked her versatile style and mix of soul, R&B, and jazz and soulful, melodic voice.
I was now much more curious about Carole and Connie invited me to for a drink at Carole’s apartment. (Connie inherited the apartment and has kept it mostly intact with Carole’s belongings). Located right near the Jules Joffrin metro in the 18th arr. near Montmartre, the apartment was modest and cozy. I was taken by the warmth and the rich memories, with dozens of photos with friends, family, singers, and musicians, all smiling. The gold records and awards also impressed me. If one didn’t know who Carole was and was in the apartment, you could tell it was who person had a full and rewarding life. One thing that touched me were the hats all around the apartment, and Connie told me Carole adored hats and amassed quite a collection.
Afterwards we went to dinner at a local Lebanese restaurant and feasted on mezze platters. Connie shared with me about the ongoing work she was doing with Carole’s legacy, including a foundation that promotes teaching French culture and language in schools through music in the U.S., and a website preserving her memory which features sales of the CD’s and posters and ongoing news.
Connie and Jim came to my photo opening and we are now good friends, and I can’t wait to see them next year on their annual visit to Paris.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 210 euros for up to 3 people, and 70 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com
Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.