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To Paris with love

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

To Paris with love

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Rosemary Phillips has always been at home in the world of jazz. Perhaps that’s why she made it her life’s passion.
It’s definitely the reason behind her decision to pursue it for her PhD in literature, with the focus being on analyzing the lyrics sung by blues and jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Josephine Baker in their socio-historical contexts.
Rosemary is currently living in France with her husband of one year, Matthieu Everard, transitioning from life as a single woman to being a wife and a stepmother of two children.
“We just built a house, an environmentally friendly house in Brittany which is the French countryside, so that’s great,” Rosemary said.
“My husband’s office is in Paris so we’re always in Paris as well. So I can do shows and rehearsals.
“But the house, we helped design it and it was a project launched by the mayor of the region. [It] is warm and lovely.
“We only really settled in properly in September – but I have the top floor, which I use as a studio with my piano and an area for guests.”
For Rosemary, though she still spends a few months of the year in Barbados, she is looking forward to the intricacies of married life.
“I really met someone who swept me off my feet,” she said candidly. “Up until then I had given up and figured I was meant to be on my own. But meeting the right person makes a difference.
“We actually met in the airport – he was on his way from a conference in India, and I was on my way to sing at the Josephine Baker castle for the 100th anniversary celebrations.
“We just crossed each other at the airport and ended up walking together towards the aeroplane. We started talking and I told him what I was doing in France.
“We exchanged numbers and we had met up one day but I had to go to rehearsal.
“But I found out last year that he drove six hours just to meet with me and he didn’t have any meeting in that part of France.”  
According to Rosemary, after she met Matthieu, he asked her to stay on in France to tour Brittany.
“There were some beautiful islands,” she revealed.
“There was one beautiful coastline that reminded me of Bathsheba with smoother stones.”
Little did Rosemary know that she and Matthieu would be settling there after marriage.
Rosemary who has been in Paris now for six years, has found her footing in France and within Europe.
Along with marriage and the move to her new home, she has managed to do concerts in Germany and Belgium.
The Barbadian songbird has taken Europe by storm, making singing appearances in Russia, England and even the Middle East. Back in 2006, Rosemary took part in various celebrations for the Josephine Baker Centenary at the Château des Milandes.
Over the years Rosemary has, through her work in jazz, developed an affinity for Josephine Baker. She even recently performed in Paris where she got the opportunity to meet Josephine Baker’s children, which was an incredible honour for her.
“Since we had the house building in between, we decided to hold our reception later this year at Josephine Baker’s castle, where we met,” she said.
For her, life has now come full circle and she is trying her best to enjoy the best of both worlds, life in France and the few months she spends in Barbados during the winter.