French album strikes chord
Posted on December 7, 2009 by Paul | 6 Comments | Jump to Comments Box Below
Note: this article appeared in “The Chronicle Herald”, a daily newspaper published in Nova Scotia, Canada.
French album strikes chord
Christian musician with N.S. roots reaching out to francophones around the world
By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth Bureau
PAUL BALOCHE spent many happy summers as a child, running with his cousins along the windswept shores of St. Marys Bay in Digby County.
What a treat for a lad from Maple Shade, N.J.
Baloche, one of contemporary Christian music’s most prolific songwriters and performing artists, often wishes he were in western Nova Scotia enjoying the pace of life as it exists in few other places.
His mom was a LeBlanc from Meteghan Centre.
“Every summer, we would pack up our station wagon and drive up to Bar Harbor, Maine, and take the Bluenose over to Yarmouth and we would spend at least a month with my cousins all up and down between Meteghan and Digby,” he said recently from his home near Lindale, Texas, where he and his wife Rita have raised three children, now grown.
I have probably a hundred cousins, at least,” he said about his Nova Scotia relatives.
“They’re spread out across Saulnierville and Comeauville and Belliveau’s Cove.”
These last 20 years have been busy for Baloche, 47. He’s been writing music and touring with his band. He’s also a worship pastor at Community Fellowship in Lindale.
Many Christian artists have also recorded his songs, including Open the Eyes of My Heart and Your Name.
His songs are sung the world over and are instantly recognized by evangelical worshipers who dance and sway in a spiritual ecstasy with arms raised in praise. .
But for the longest while, there had been something Baloche wanted to do.
There was a French connection he wanted to make.
“Just growing up, my parents always spoke French,” he recalled.
Baloche is sharing some of the Christian church’s most popular praise and worship songs with Francophone believers. What began as something he thought might be a blessing to his mom and to his Nova Scotia cousins has gone global.
“Occasionally when I would do concerts in Canada, in Ottawa or Montreal, people would come up after a concert and say, ‘Why don’t you do something in French?’ ”
Finally, he met a producer who was willing to help translate his songs. And he remembered thinking, “I’d love to just do this.”
And he did.
The CD came out in 2008, and is titled Paul Baloche and Friends, Ouvre les yeux de mon coeur. It was released by Integrity Music.
Baloche sees the project as part of the great commission, a term often used to describe Christ’s commandment to his followers to go to all nations and make disciples. Baloche said he’s burdened to do this.
“There are reasons why you do things.
“My record company didn’t think this was a smart project to do because percentage-wise there’s not a large (French) audience . . . but I just said I want to do this anyway. I have a burden to try to serve the French-speaking Christian community, to serve them with songs that are in a more modern style, especially for younger believers.”
The CD might be an encouragement for them, he said, and give language to some of the things they feel toward the Lord.
“Once it was finished and (the record company) heard (it) . . . they jumped on board and were excited and said, ‘We see what you’re talking about now, we want to get behind this,’ ” he said.
“We’ve received emails saying, ‘Thank you for this project. It’s really helping us in our churches to sing modern praises to God in our own language.’ ”
Baloche recalled enthusiastically how he ran into a missionary in an airport recently.
“We’d given him, like, a hundred CDs to give away because he was going to Benin.”
The locals there were exited to get them and used the recordings as evangelism tools.
“Here’s something in their language that is God-centred, Christ-centred.
“Sometimes music has a way of crossing boundaries.”
He soon learned that others were interested in the project.
“French-speaking churches in Africa and, of course, in France. I started getting invitations to come and play there and speak because there’s just not a lot of this style of music . . . what we would call modern worship music, in the French language,” he said.
Baloche was invited to perform in a large church in Paris over the summer.
“It was primarily French-speaking Africans . . . like, 10,000 people in this huge church in Paris, and it was amazing to go there,” he recalled.
“The next day, my wife and my daughter, we were just kind of walking through the streets of Paris and we stumbled upon a Christian bookstore . . pretty rare. We’re like, ‘Hey look at this,’ and we just walked in and sure enough, over the speakers in the store is playing my French CD.”
Putting the album together with a team of Canadian professionals in Montreal, Baloche and his producers wrestled with about 20 songs to translate.
“Based on . . . your most popular songs, these are the ones that translate the best,” he was told.
Some could not translate well and lost a lot of strength.
“Based on their recommendations, we sort of narrowed it down to the 10 or 12 they felt like, with the translation, still had an impact,” he said.
The one exception was Above All, a modern classic recorded by Michael W. Smith.
“They encouraged me, ‘Why don’t you just do that one song in English?’ ” said Baloche.
As the project proceeded, he decided to open it up to some French artists.
“We’ll just call it Paul Baloche and Friends. (André and Lynne-Marie Favreau), they do this style of music around Montreal.
“Thierry Ostrini is from France. Joel Auge, he’s from Toronto but grew up in a French Canadian home. . . He actually came over to Paris with us.”
Although the French recording has been out since last year, Baloche wants to follow up with some concerts.
“This next year we have plans of doing another tour from Montreal to the Maritimes,” said Mr. Baloche.He believes the message he presents.
“The opportunity for all of us in a city to come together and just sing songs of faith in French and in English. . . . I just love that.”