The Gaîté metro station, on metro line 13, was rebaptized a year ago in the name of the French-American artist and resistant Josephine Baker. The choice of which station to name in her honor was obvious for her son Brian Bouillon-Baker, who was at the initiative of the request made to the Ministry of Transport and RATP. The station is located a few steps from the Bobino Theater, which is where the singer and dancer performed for the last time, on April 9, 1975, two days before her death. Place Joséphine Baker is just around the corner too.
This Fall Brian Bouillon-Baker brings his mother back to the Bobino in a show which is part recreation of his mother’s hits and part biography. It’s a full circle! Tickets are now available for this fall’s 6 dates. Reservations
To whet your whistle enjoy this teaser:
In case you’ve been stuck in a cave for the last year, Josephine Baker’s cenotaph was installed in the Pantheon of illustrious French people in November 2021.
Josephine Baker was born on 3 June 1906 in Saint Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. Her painful childhood in a city marked by racial segregation where she herself was neither black nor white (her mother was black and her father was unknown but is speculated to have been Spanish), was the start of her tireless fights. She fought racism, fought for freedom, for France, for equality, for love, for her children!
It was in New York that she was signed up to dance in a big Review in Paris! The troupe embarked for the French capital in 1925. After a great success in the Revue Nègre, Josephine wanted to be more than just a dancer. She captured Parisian hearts with her famous song “J’ai deux amours… Paris et mon pays” It was a great success and the money started rolling in. It was in this period that she began to show great generosity. She donated to Paris hospitals, schools and children’s charities in particular. And purchased the Château des Milandes.
During World War II Josephine was recruited by the Free French Forces and she played an active part in the resistance thanks to having obtained French citizenship by her marriage to Jean Lion. Lion was a Jewish industrialist who was able to escape thanks to his marriage to American citizen Josephine. Devoted to France, Josephine declared: « It’s France that has made me. I’m prepared to give it my life. You can use me as you will. » (In 1961 she was awarded the Legion of Honor.)
After the war Josephine took every opportunity and used her fame to fight racism. For Josephine, there was only one race: the “human race”. In 1947, in the chapel at Château des Milandes, she married Jo Bouillon, a famous orchestra conductor. The two shared the same dream to found a “Global Village, the Capital of Universal Fraternity” to show the whole world that children of different nationalities and different religions could live together in peace.
So go see the show at the Bobino, pay homage to this remarkable woman, soak up some of the joy that her life and music brings. With a troupe of 8 dancers, singers, actors and musicians, with Nevedya (Saturday Night Fever) in the title role, this show evokes the romantic story of the icon of the Roaring Twenties. Jean-Pierre Hadida, the songwriter (Madiba, Anne Frank the musical), summarizes: “From Missouri to the Pantheon, her life is a novel, this show reveals all its light!”. The choreographed staging by Florie Sourice (Merlin, Grease is the Word), is sequenced in short scenes that tell the story of the spy and humanist artist. Nevedya, an accomplished dancer and singer, performs both Josephine Baker’s famous hits “J’ai deux amours, La Tonkinoise…” as well as songs from the original libretto of this musical comedy “I have a dream, Pour danser le Charleston …”.
The Château des Milandes, in Dordogne, is a temple to her memory and is open for visits. It was here that she raised her rainbow tribe of adopted children of every race, living up to her philosophy that “Not everyone has the same color, the same language, or the same customs, but they have the same heart, the same blood, and the same need for love.”
Today the chateau is much more than an architectural gem of a building from 1489 filled with Baker’s memories, at Milandes you can also enjoy a magnificent award-winning early 20th century garden, falconry demonstrations and a bistrot.