N.B. native enjoys both stardom and anonymity

For an artist who had never set out to be a musician, New Brunswick native Natasha St-Pier has not done too badly for herself in the francophone pop music world.

Born in Bathurst and raised between that city and Edmundston, Natasha left the province in 2001 to pursue what has turned out to be a fruitful music career in France, becoming a star overseas.

Natasha returns to her native Canada this month for an extensive run of 10 shows. The only show on her upcoming tour that takes place outside of Quebec is at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre tomorrow night. The show begins at 8 p.m.

“I didn’t want to be a singer at first,” Natasha says from her home in Paris. “I actually wanted to be a nurse when I was growing up.”

She started singing at the age of eight, prompted to do so by her music teacher. Soon, her singing abilities were well known throughout the province of Quebec. Seeking career opportunities that were more abundant in Europe, St-Pier left Canada in 2001. It was then that her career truly started to pick up steam.

“I was asked if I was willing to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest and represent the country of France in the competition.”

Asked how a New Brunswick girl comes to represent France in such a high-profile competition, she shares that the Eurovision contest looks only at the nationalities of the composer and songwriter of the track, not necessarily who performs the song.

Soon, one song turned into a full-length record, which then turned into a second album and St-Pier was well on her way.

St-Pier would eventually be given the opportunity to take a lead role in the wildly popular musical Notre Dame de Paris, performing in the production throughout France as well as in London. She says the experience ultimately helped to cement her stardom on European shores.

“From there, things went really fast,” Natasha recalls. “In the midst of that success though, I had actually been wanting to return to my studies but it seemed like there were always new opportunities coming my way that got in the way of that.

“When I turned 25 though, I decided to take a bit of a break so that I could finally make a decision on whether or not I wanted to continue singing. Up to the point I had turned 25, I had considered singing to be more of a pastime, not necessarily a full-time job,” she laughs.

“I decided that I did want to continue singing though and here we are.”

Natasha’s most recent album, Tu trouveras 10 ans de success (You will find 10 years of success), is a retrospective compilation that culls songs from the first 10 years of her career, released in 2009. Fans looking forward to new music from her may have a little longer to wait as she is currently exploring a couple of options, one of which includes writing a musical.

“I would love to do another musical production before having any children, as exhausting as musicals can be, however. The energy in a musical is a little different than strictly performing music; performing with other singers in a production is fantastic plus you often have dancers and acrobats and it makes the entire show so much more thrilling. I love the energy.”

Though she has started the process of writing new music, she does not anticipate having a record available until 2012 and that would be only if her musical does not come to fruition. If the musical forges ahead, she expects it will be 2013 before a new record sees the light of day.

Asked if she has contemplated starting to sing in English to expand her fan base internationally as Celine Dion has done before her, Natasha says that having a career in the English side of the music business has never been a priority for her. While she hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of singing in English at some point down the road, it is nothing she is currently contemplating.

“I’m very lucky that I have made a career in music by singing exclusively in French,” she says. “When I started pursuing music as a career, I wanted to be able to travel all over the world and do something I love. I never dreamed I could make a career out of singing in French but I have done so and continue to do so.”

Being a star in French-speaking countries only has its perks as far as she is concerned.

“It is really nice to be able to travel places without necessarily being recognized. I have the best of both worlds. I am doing something I love but get to enjoy the anonymity with my career right now that I don’t know I would be afforded if I started singing in English.”

Article published in February 21, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript