Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blessing #2: Emma Shapplin

Years ago I went to a women's workshop on Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun. Before I even had a chance to get my bags to the registration desk, a woman who was a departing guest came out the door and said, "You have to have a massage. Sign up right away; she books up almost immediately." I'm not an avid massage fan but this woman was insistent so I signed up. A couple of days later I was stretched out on a massage table in a small thatched-roof hut and about to have the most amazing massage experience in my life ... before or since. The music that played during the massage was haunting and a few days later it was still with me. Later when a sudden slot opened up in the massage schedule, I booked another hour, taxing my limited budget but I wanted a repeat performance and by that time, I had to know what the music was that I had heard.

It turned out to be Emma Shapplin and here's what Wikipedia says about her: neo classical artist author and composer, Shapplin started her music career in classical music but then moved to hard rock. When she was 18, singer Jean-Patrick Capdevielle convinced her to return to taking classical lessons so as to improve her singing technique. She discovered that although rock had given her more artistic freedom and hedonistic lifestyle than classical music, it was still not enough for her, so she decided to create her own style.[3] This became a combination of archaic opera and modern trance and/or pop music. Shapplin and Capdevielle subsequently worked together on her first release, Carmine Meo.[4] Capdevielle wrote Carmine Meo.

Although Shapplin was raised speaking French, and sings some of her songs in that language, most of the songs on Carmine Meo were translated from the French in which Capdevielle wrote them in into Latin and ancient Proven├žal dialect, in which Shapplin sang them.[5] On her second release, Etterna, she decided to perform in old (13th-century) Italian.[2] She did so because, according to her, "It's a language that sings naturally"[3]; and because this is closer to the modern Italian language she used in some of her first classical singing lessons, while the older Italian "lends itself more to poetry, to dreaming, and to drama too".[6] In particular, she used the spelling "Etterna" for the album and track title because this is the way Dante wrote, rather than the modern Italian "Eterna".[2] She occasionally performs one of her hit songs, La Notte Etterna, in Spanish (as La Noche Eterna). Her single "Discovering Yourself" is in English. Shapplin has co-operated with Greek singer George Dalaras and she visits Greece almost every year for concerts in Athens's ancient Odeon of Herod Atticus.

Shapplin was relatively unknown in the United States until composer Graeme Revell used her voice on his score for the movie Red Planet. They later collaborated on her second album Etterna, with Revell producing all of her songs.

Here's a sample of Shapplin in concert: (click here)


  1. Joyce, you DO get around!

    Thank you for this intro to Shapplin. I did not know of her.

    And thank you for participating in the 12 Days. I've been so enjoying everyone's offerings.

  2. I came back to let you know I Twittered your post. Are you on Twitter?

  3. absolutely beautiful music. I put one of her CD's on my Amazon wish list for future reference.

  4. Maureen and Arlee ... glad you're enjoying Emma! And Maureen, I am on twitter ... I'll try to connect with you there.