Cécile Corbel

Starry-eyed starlet

Picture 1 Cécile Corbel

With her fiery mane, Cécile Corbel doesn’t go unnoticed. And yet, when she sings or bends over her harp, this young Finistère fairy couldn’t be more discreet as she takes up a Breton tradition more timeless than ever. If there were a redhead rose, it would be called Cécile Corbel.


Cécile Corbel is a Breton through and through, but she has an outsider to thank for harpooning her into the music world – Elisa Vellia, a Greek harpist, who took over her musical training. As well as her fairy fingers, this young Finistère harpist also has a voice, tried out first in the Parisian pubs, on the streets of the capital and of course at Ty Jos, a rite of passage for Bretons exiled in the Ile-de-France, where she gave her first official concert in 2002.

2002… And the future of a whole region’s music is assured by a young fairy with a fiery mane who paints rainbows of enchanting notes. Somewhere between Noah and Yael Naïm, Cécile Corbel plucks at the strings of her instrument with a delicate touch that is equalled only by her crystalline voice. We have to pinch ourselves to be sure we’re not dreaming; but her albums provide reassurance. Her first six tracks came out in 2005, followed the next year by her first Songbook, sparkling with Breton, Welsh and Irish melodies. A second Songbook was released in 2008, with ten of the twelve songs her own compositions.

Redheaded rainbow

So who better than this young thirty-year old to play the Queen, an eternal heroine for an entire region? In 2009, she became Anne of Brittany alongside Tri Yann and the Fairport Convention in the rock opera performed at Nantes’ Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. An album was also recorded which featured the fairy tones of her voice, together with two hundred other musicians.

But this is too simple a fairy tale, and our harpist is too happy off-piste to stick to Breton’s coastal paths. She recently saw her sound painting brought to life with all the colour of the Orient when she composed the original soundtrack to The Borrower Arrietty. A red sun is rising over Brittany.