The tiny village of Tagliu-Isulaccia in the far north of Corsica is the home of Alain and Jean-François Bernardini, well known at home and abroad by the name, I Muvrini. People here remember seeing them perched on makeshift stages singing their first polyphonies, and certain of their admirers from those early days are proud to still have in their possession the 45 rpm recording by Canta U Populu Corsu on which the brothers sang at the request of their father-a poet and singer who passed away in 1977.
In the troubled political landscape of Corsica, the Bernardinis are neither musicians for the state nor propagandists for a faction. They remain convinced of the possibility of being singers at the same time they are citizens with their own personal views. And if in the end they sing in their native Corsican, it is more because it is essential to them as the first seed of universality tying them to all lands, all shores, all the cultures of the world.
At the end of the 1980's, I Muvrini played the role of cultural pioneer, as at that time there existed in Corsica neither a reference point nor a structure for the distribution of music in general, and for theirs in particular. The group survived by managing and financing themselves, recording at their own expense, creating their own label, and giving hundreds of concerts around the island offering free entrance for those under 15. Moreover, in a desire to increase awareness of an ancestral tradition, they participated actively in the creation of schools for the teaching of Corsican singing.
Some years later, in the wake of an ever-growing success, I Muvrini crossed the sea and began a string of performances at the Printemps de Bourges festival, at Bobino, and in Brittany, another land of strong national pride. As they released their records and passionately defended them along the way, the group watched their public grow. That public comprised a good part of Corsica by the summer of 1993, when a third of the island's population flocked to their sold-out concerts. The Zenith theater and the Bercy hall, both in Paris, were soon won over in turn. In 1998, I Muvrini proved their feet were more on the ground than ever when they handed out that very same ground in little pouches at the entrance to their concerts, and when they performed at the Baumettes prison in Marseilles.
In an attempt to better embrace the world, I Muvrini look it straight in the eye. Known from that time on for their true merit, and rightfully acclaimed, the group proceeded to collaborate with Jacques Dutronc on the song "Corsica" from his album CQFD and with Véronique Sanson. Today they count Lou Reed, Sting, Michel Fugain and Florent Pagny among their most fervent admirers.
From this recognition -built on the sheer force of conviction, on the single thirst for sharing the culture and the earth that colors their hands- I Muvrini wove the words and notes that made their May 1998 release Leia (Link) the symbol of a Corsica that holds the hope of moving forward.
This step toward new horizons and new sound infused the year 1998 with a new momentum that would lead to two performances at the Bercy concert hall on June 5 and 6, and to a national and international tour across Europe to the welcoming ears and enthusiasm of the more than 300,000 people who came to hear these witnesses of their own time.
In 1999, Leia-which reached gold-crossed continents to Canada, Greece, Italy, so many diverse lands, and so many cultures whose warm reception bolstered the group's will to continue on their path.
After the concerts at the Zenith and Olympia theaters and the 40,000 spectators at the Paleo Festival de Nyon in Switzerland, and after Belgium and its Francofolies event, the German public embraced the group, their music, and their course of action.
Refusing to accept the dismal situation that seems to ensnare Corsica, I Muvrini have opened up their music without renouncing their roots, and have in the process contributed to a reversal in the tendency to downplay regional music. The musical palette of the group, which includes a Breton and a Malagasy, now brings the colors of Cajun, Celtic, Jazz, and World music to its mix-as attested by their reprise of Sting's "Fields of Gold," recorded as "Terre d'Oru" in collaboration with the song's esteemed composer. The Bernardini brothers, artists of the heart, have fashioned polyphony into the source of a universal and fittingly contemporary message to weave solid links between people. This is demonstrated here in their self-titled "best of" collection, which sums up an already long and respectable career of thirteen albums.
I Muvrini, the U.S. debut release on Higher Octave World, contains the very best moments of the group, including the "Terre d'Oru" duet with Sting and a reprise of Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam." In taking on such a monument to the French chanson, I Muvrini wanted to produce more than an homage to Brel. They wished to continue along the path already traced by their duets: a path of musical universality, beyond the rather narrow frontiers set at times by their origins.
I Muvrini wound from city to city, from village to capital, from one shore to the next, from festival to concert, welcoming along the way Israeli singer Noa for two extraordinary moments at Ajaccio and Rospigliani during the Giru 2000 summer tour of Corsica.
Over the course of a tour that fall that took in some of the greatest regional and international stages-from the Zenith to Bercy on 14 December 2000, to the Forest National de Bruxelles and the Paradiso d'Amsterdam - I Muvrini delivered its simple, humble message of a single identity, of similarities cemented by differences.
I Muvrini traveled a long and courageous road before they united thousands of people and became a veritable symbol, a road built with love by the hands of artisans. Today their songs are, and will remain for tomorrow, evidence that we can celebrate creation, tolerance, and humanism in a "small language," with the same words and the same commitment that people-wherever they may be from-have to their land: "If Corsicans have a love for their land, for their rocks, they also know that this love exists in all regions of the world, in all cultures, in the heart of each and every human being."
The group's current line up is formed by:
Jean François Bernardini - vocals
Alain Bernardini - vocals
Stéphane Mangiantini - vocals
Martin Vadella - vocals
Jean Bernard Rongiconi - arrangements / guitars
Alain Bonnin - synthesizer / piano
Loic Taillebrest - bagpipes
Gilles Chabenat - hurdy-gurdy
César Anot - bass/vocals
Roger Biwandu - drums
Ti Ringrazianu (1979)
Anu Da Vulta (1989)
E campà quì (1984)
A l'encre rouge (1987)
Pe l'amore di tè (1988)
In core (1990)
A voce rivolta (1991)
Zenith 93 (1994)
Bercy 96 (1996)
Sò, compilation (1998)
Pulifunie (2000/US: Higher Octave World, 2003)
A strada (2000)
I Muvrini et les 500 choristes (2007)
Official Web Site: www.muvrini.com