Véronic DiCiare brings her stage show to the London Hippodrome from 12 to 13 March 2018 and I was lucky enough to catch up with her, grab a coffee and see her in action.
Before we launch into the interview here’s a bit more about Véronic: Passionate about singing from an early age, she impressed the judges of the Ontario Pop singing competition when she was only 17. Then she moved into musicals, receiving ovations throughout Quebec for her portrayal of Sandy in the Quebecoise adaptation of Grease.
Her first folk-rock album, released by Warner Music Canada, earned her two nominations at the ADISQ awards in 2002 and five Trille d’Or trophies at the Franco-Ontarian music industry award ceremony in 2003. In March of the same year she returned to the world of musical theatre to play Roxie Hart in the francophone production of Chicago – The Musical opposite comedian Anthony Kavanagh (in Montreal) and Stéphane Rouseau (in Paris), having previously dubbed the singing voice of Renée Zellweger in the French version of the film.
All this attracted the attention of Céline Dion and René Angélil, who invited Véronic to open for Dion during the Taking Chances Tour. Her success immediately established her as a uniquely gifted artist and allowed her to have a sold-out tour in French Canada between 2009 and 2010.
Between June of 2013 and 2015, Véronic performed as a headliner at the Jubilee Theatre of the Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which earned her Best Singer and Best Impersonator/Successor to Danny Gans (staff pick) for the 2014 Best of Las Vegas Awards. In 2015 she also competed in Dancing With The Stars – France. In 2017, Véronic opened for Céline Dion during her Céline Dion Live 2017 European tour.
Whereabouts in Canada are you from?
I grew up in Ottawa and moved down to Montreal and have lived there for 20 years now. Montreal is great, very multicultural and actually, it looks like here. The culture is the same, we eat bacon, eggs and beans in the morning. So when I come here it doesn’t seem so different. I feel like I’m at home here, the humour is even French Canadian or Canadian.
What’s it like to be performing at such an iconic venue?
I’ve performed in a casino before. (That was at Bally’s Las Vegas wasn’t it?) Yes, but this is a lot smaller and more intimate. It’s like when I started in France, you know slowly but surely I built up my act. I like it, you feel closer to the people. It’s going to be a very intimate soirée which will be nice. The best way for me to meet the people is a small venue like this. From the O2 in the summer with Céline to this, it’s perfect (laughing). It’s the perfect way for me to start to get known here.
The show itself tell me about it?
To explain what I do – I play homage to the people I’m imitating. Of course people will laugh because I put everything of that person in a minute and a half or so. People will see the whole person, you know if I am Tina Turner I’m all of Tina Turner as homage to the person. Not to make you laugh but to feel her through me.
The late great Judy Garland performed at this venue – does Judy make an appearance?
She does at the end of the show a number that explains what it takes to be a diva. The rhythm of Ella Fitzgerald, it takes the glamorous life of Barbara Streisand and of course the energy of Judy Garland. She had so much energy. I end the number with Céline and Whitney Houston. This is such fun and I love this number. I go through all these voices, to explain what it takes to be a diva. All these voices in one number – wow I can’t wait to see that!
When did you discover you could do this?
Well I’m a recording artist and around my second album I started to talk to people and imitate Céline Dion and French Canadian artists. People came up to me after the shows and said your stuff is good but your imitations are great. I was working with Céline’s son-in-law on my third album and he was saying let’s try this song and imitate that singer. And we were having fun, then at the end of that session he said do you know what I’ve been kind of auditioning you. So I said why? He said I think I’m going to suggest your name to Céline and René, because they are looking for an opening act for her world tour in Montreal. And they had asked Mark to look for someone. He said I think you should do it but as an impersonator not an artist. I said ok!
I got back in my car and I was so nervous I only hadn’t 5 voices. But we took a year out to work on my voice and that’s when I found out with my vocal coach that I had this ability to reproduce many voices. I worked very hard for this and I still work hard to make sure the voices are as accurate as I can. It was in 2008 and yeah 10 years now I’ve been doing it.
My dream was to travel the world with my albums but life took me on a different journey. We have to be open to what life brings us – right?
Have you got a favourite voice?
Oh my god – that’s like asking a mum if she has a favourite child? Well of course Céline because she was one of my first voices I did. I like voices that are very removed from mine like Tina Turner. I love the reaction I get from doing Mariah Carey’s voice. Well I push the comedian part, so I love the reaction. Also when I get into the emotion of doing voices like Amy Winehouse or Karen Carpenter, I like to go there to. So it’s so hard to choose.
Who has been the most challenging to perfect?
Tina Turner definitely because her voice is raunchy. I was afraid to hurt my own voice so it took a long time and work. One day I thought I’d go get my highest heels, bend my knees put my shoulders up and I started to do it. Oh And Adele – Adele is like a good wine you have to keep going back and checking it is still ok?
If you could duet with anyone alive or dead who would you want to duet with?
I would love to duet with Adele because I think she is fun but unfortunately she isn’t singing any more. Hopefully she’ll come back at some point. I would’ve loved to sing with Edith Piaf. I’ve sung with Céline, as her, that was a lot of fun. She’s got a great sense of humour so that was so much fun. I think all the great singers who are gone, even just chat with them? People like Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.
And finally my usual three quirky questions
If you could go back in time to any era when would you go back to and why?
That’s an easy question – I would go back to the era of people like Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Billie Holiday and all those great singers. To hear them and chat to them.
If you could choose any three dinner guests who would you choose and what would be the theme?
Oh that’s hard! I think I would stick to my first question answer? But from different eras like Janice Joplin, Ella Fitzgerald and someone around now? The theme would be very loungy and relaxed and we’d talk. I’d be curious to hear their paths and their journey.
If you could have a super power what would you have?
I don’t want to sound tacky but I’d want to heal the children. I have my foundation back at home to support young artists and I just feel without good health? So I’d want to heal the children and I’d have a crazy outfit.
Thank you Véronic for being so charming and captivating to interview. This is a fraction of our chat but I hope that reading this it’ll make you want to see for yourself? Below are all the details you need to catch Véronic at one of her two London shows.