You feel the urge to sing along with him the moment you hear his melodies. Originally from Algeria, French Enrico Macias sings his songs in French at the stage and his Turkish fans sing along with him in Turkish. He enjoys that. The artist who performed a duet with Şevval Sam during his last concert in İstanbul expresses his admiration for Ajda Pekkan every time he gets the chance. We had a lovely chat with the world-famous singer about music, his achievements, and İstanbul.

You have over eighty songs that are translated to Turkish. Zingarella, La Guitar, Solenzara are only the three of them. What do you think about their translations?
I am aware of that over eighty of my songs have been translated to Turkish. There is no other foreign singer, whose songs have been translated to your language more than mine have. I have appealed to three generations. Among my listeners, there are young people, parents, and grandparents. Ajda Pekkan performed the important ones and their lyrics were written by Fikret Şenses. If I examine the documents that I have, 17 Turkish singers have performed my songs. I congratulate them all for their success.

Most of your songs are about peace, freedom, and equality. What do you think, your songs might become true some day?
I guess, “If dreams came true” was a song title… I would love to see my songs bring peace, freedom, and equality. Isn’t that the mission of a singer? We spread hope in a way through our lyrics. There is a meaningful proverb: “No life is without hope.”

The Turks adore you and your songs, what would you like to tell us about your concerts in here?
At the end of each song during my concerts in Turkey, the Turkish audience applauses continuously like crazy as if it is the end of the concert. I performed 22 songs this way. These are the best moments in a singer’s life, because I perform these songs in French but my Turkish fans who fill the concert hall tightly sing along in Turkish. So, to make a long story short, we have created a fantastic chorus by singing my song together. Giving a concert in İstanbul is a privilege. I am the only singer in the world who has been coming to give concerts for fifty years. I have become famous in Turkey before France. I have placed Turkey in my heart, instead of my home country Algeria that I cannot go. Because, the Turks adopted me.

You have signed under over 20 albums and about 10 films, what would you tell about your success in life?
I have composed about 800 melodies. When you put my films and TV series all together, it makes a large package. I tried to act as a good comedian in the films. The films that were successful at the box office brought me more fans since my name was written on their posters. If we examine the two different branches of performance arts, over 40 million albums sold definitely takes my music to forefront.

Are you thinking of releasing a new album?
I have two albums in the market. One of them is made for my 50th anniversary year in music. It consists of duets with many famous singers such as Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Danny Brillant, Cali, Mickael Miro, Khaled, Sofia Essaidi, Riff Cohen, Gerard Darman, Natasha StPier, Cobra Casay, Dani, Bruno Maman… 12 singers accompanied me. My other album was released in the recent months. It was just in time for the concert at Olympia on January 16-17. During the TV shows that I was invited, I felt that my songs were admired. This made me very happy.

 How did you compose the song titled ‘Adieu Mon Pays’ which means ‘Goodbye my Country’; could you share it with us?
Adieu Mon Pays was the first melody that I composed. That song became number one worldwide and the Ankara Radio selected it as the song of the year in 1962. At that time, Erkan Özerman, Entertainment Broadcasting Manager of the Ankara Radio also the first DJ of Turkey if I am not wrong, made me number one in your country in three months. One thing that I cannot forget is that I gave two concerts in one day at the Grand Cinema at 2pm and at 5pm in 1963. At night, I went on the stage at the Ankara Palas. If there were time, they would have had me given a forth one. But, believe me there was no time. Turkey was the first country to embrace me; they love me. The Algerians were offended by ‘Adieu Mon Pays’ but Turkey has embraced me. Turkey adopted me and treated me with great respect. With your endless love, you made me experience the joy of visiting my home country each time I came in here for 53 years. Thank you…

How do you feel when you are on stage?
It is a different world… There is only God and I on the stage… The feeling of it is more than a matter of finding the correct words. Singing is just as important as worshipping to God for people like me.

If you had the chance to go back to your twenties, what would you tell to yourself?
If I had the chance to live those days again, I would be thankful. My life is beautiful now, so I am in peace with my age. I have come a long way. As your legendary poet says, “I am on a long fine road,” and I have been walking for over half a century.

What do you have to say about the Turkish cuisine?
Let me give you a secret! After each concert, my old friend and I sneak out to eat dried navy beans stew. My first choice among the Turkish dishes.

Could you tell us about your duet with Şevval Sam?
This year, Erkan Özerman made me a great offer about my Olympia concerts. He offered me to take place in an album that would be released in memory of the 20th anniversary of Zeki Müren’s death. 13 Turkish singers would also take part in the album. Şevval Sam and I performed a duet with a song that its lyrics were written by Zeki Müren and it was composed by Jacques Brel; the French lyrics were also written by Jacques Brel: “Ne Me Quitte Paris.”

Who did the arrangement of its new edition?
My son Jean-Claude Ghrenassia did the arrangement, orchestration, and studio works. He has been a great support to me for the last years. It’s been a successful work. Şevval Sam and I performed it for the first time in İstanbul. I am going to tell you the surprise in my last sentence: We have invited Şevval Sam for my concert at Olympia in January 2017. She is going to share the same stage with us. After many years, opening the most important doors in Europe for a Turkish singer makes my son and I very happy.