I was born in Paris and studied at University of Lille. My first job was working as a waitress at Hollywood Savoy, which is in the opera district of Paris. It is a very glamorous club, which is well known for live music six nights a week: jazz, cabaret and rhythm and blues. As a very chic restaurant, it also has a reputation for famous clients, which around the time I was working there included the Eurythmics, Isabelle Adjani, Miles Davis and Juliette Gréco.
As part of the dining experience, the waitresses all sang at some point in the night. I heard about the opportunity through a friend who had worked there. At the time they only employed Anglos to work in the club, but I insisted that my dad was half English, half French and I got my chance to audition.
It took seven auditions for them finally to take me on board – I was a dreadful singer back then. I was very nervous but decided to take my chance and just go for it. Every night, I was singing songs by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan, and as my confidence grew, and my own interpretations came to the fore, I began to build up a loyal following. This eventually led to performing all over Europe, and eventually to Marc Almond’s creative venture the Freedom Theatre in London, where I worked alongside Leigh Bowery, Agnes Bernelle and Joey Arias – all people who had a background in cabaret and were putting it back on the map.
Looking back, it all happened perfectly. I was so lucky to get that first job. Now, having regularly played huge festivals and 1,000-seat venues, my advice is the same as it was in that intimate club: just go for it. You are the one who’s on stage. You are in power. When you get such an opportunity, catch it. It might not happen again.
Training: Music reading and writing at Goldsmiths, University of London and private training with opera singer Raymonde Viret
Performances at venues including: Lido de Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Royal Festival Hall, King’s Head Theatre, Soho Theatre, Ronnie Scott’s, Live at Zédel, Pleasance Theatre, Assembly Rooms, Don’t Tell Mama, Metropolitan Room, Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Recital Centre
Caroline Nin’s cabaret show Songs and Stories of the Paris Lido is at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London on February 28 and Live at Zédel in London on March 18 and 20. She was talking to John Byrne. Details: carolinenin.com