In my family, you can be a physician or a musician, but you can rarely be both. My cousin Sophie Bourgeois is extraordinary for managing the delicate balancing act of running her own dentistry business, raising two sons, and singing jazz. My family, bunch of over-achievers right there.
[Sophie Bourgeois with portrait by her aunt, Hélène Baronnie, France 1969]
Sophie is my cousin by my great-aunt. Her mother was a dancer and so it is no surprise that she started dancing at only three years old. This same aunt inspects all the new children for our possibility as future ballerinas. I myself was deemed “unfit” at age five. Too silly. Future comic maybe, but not a dancer. Great-aunt Hermine had me pegged!
[Sophie showing off us her Flamenco moves for me and my cousin Nicolas. Libourne, France 1978]
Sophie was passionate about the music involved in the dance training and wanted to sing. At age eighteen she studied singing at Conservatoire de Bordeaux, and then worked with Jazz musicians Michel Legrand, Christiane Legrand, and later advanced her studies with Americans Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Michele Hendricks.
She participates in festivals all over the Bordeaux region and sings with Claude Bolling, the great French pianist.
[Sophie visiting Maria Baroni behind-the-scenes at the opera, France 1969]
I love listening to my French relatives sing jazz standards because they have a charming French accent on their words that I completely lack. I worked to get rid of any trace of my French accent so I could fully assimilate. Kicking myself now! The French accent is so cute. Just listen to it! Adorable.