Bowie bassist’s chance collaboration with French music star next door

When Gail Ann Dorsey moved to Paris to be near her partner as Covid hit she had no idea her flat hunt would lead to French rock royalty’s doorstep

David Bowie and Gail Ann Dorsey
'I used to think I was French in another life', Gail Ann Dorsey (right) has played bass for David Bowie (left), Tears for Fears and Lenny Kravitz
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US musician Gail Ann Dorsey, famous for collaborations with David Bowie, Tears for Fears and Lenny Kravitz, is considering a permanent move to France after teaming up with one of the country’s most lauded performers.

Ms Dorsey, 59, has been touring France with Matthieu Chedid (better known by his stage name -M-) in support of his latest album Rêvalité, which is out now.

A chance meeting

The pair were introduced at the start of the Covid pandemic when, fearing being locked down in New York, Ms Dorsey decided to come to Paris to be closer to her French partner, who works as a therapist and yoga teacher here.

After asking a friend if he knew of anywhere she could stay in the city, he fixed her up in the studio underneath Mr Chedid’s apartment.

She returned to Paris in February to support Mr Chedid on tour dates, having in the interim recorded bass parts on his album and shot a music video with him.

France is more tolerant than US

The more time she spends in the country, the more she suspects she will never leave.

“I used to think I was French in another life,” she joked, having long been fascinated by the country and its culture.

It is, she added, her “number one” retirement destination.

“The countryside is stunning, the trees are amazing, the sky is different.”

France is also, she said, more “peaceful” and “tolerant of different cultures” in comparison to her native US, a country she fears is “falling apart”.

Having a partner who lives in France is also handy for facilitating projects in the country.

Collaboration on the album

The Rêvalité tour will give Ms Dorsey a chance to familiarise herself with other parts of the country. The schedule takes in smaller cities and venues until four final dates at the Zénith arena in Paris from December 20-23.

The tour is the culmination of her Covid collaboration with Mr Chedid, whose meeting at the start of confinement she called “providence”.

She was already familiar with his work, having bought his acclaimed 2003 album Qui de nous deux? while on a tour in Paris, and was delighted to learn he was a fan of her work.

Mr Chedid started to share some of his ideas for the Rêvalité album, proposing she could arrange some bass lines for a song on it.

“Next thing I knew, I was working on another one, then singing in French,” said Ms Dorsey.

She added she is “honoured” to have been a part of the “beautiful” album.

Chedid family talents

She was also happy to learn a bit more about Mr Chedid’s musical family.

He is the son of French singer Louis Chedid, while his sisters are the music video and concert director Emilie Chedid and singer Anna Chedid (also known by her stage name Nach).

His brother Joseph, also known by his stage name Selim, is a singer and a guitar and drums player.

Matthieu Chedid himself is a multi-instrumentalist and one of France’s most famous singers, performers and songwriters.

Since 2018, he has been the most-awarded artist at the Victoires de la Musique Awards, with 13 gongs.

Rêvalité is his 13th major project in a career spanning solo and family albums, as well as movie soundtracks.

More collaboration in pipeline

Ms Dorsey said she has been particularly amazed by his impact on live audiences.

He is known for involving the crowd in his shows by asking them to sing along or mimic his choreography, and sometimes invites children on stage.

Looking ahead, Ms Dorsey is hoping to improve her French to better integrate into life in the country, but acknowledges her comprehension skills have already improved greatly.

She can be heard singing on the video Mr Chedid released to promote his album, as well as on clips from rehearsals and radio showcases.

She also plans to release one or two songs herself later this year from an upcoming solo album that she envisages working on between touring with Mr Chedid.

She said she would like to include French songs on the album: “I am hoping to get Matthieu to write the songs for me, or other French artists.

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