says Maura Susanna, to introduce herself.
We sit in the dining room at La Torretta hotel, and sip a drink after a long day spent hiking in the special landscape of the mountains in fall. A little tired but also very relaxed; walking in the fog and woods, through the ancient villages of the Monterosa, is for me as good as honey. Today it is my birthday.
And Maura gives me the great present of coming and playing and singing for me and my Swedish guests.
I have heard about Maura meny times in the past decades, but it was only this summer that I first had the opportunity to listen to her ”live”, at a concert that she and our friend Luis de Jariot held in Champoluc. That time I had a very strong feeling; it was not only the beautiful voice she has and her and Luis’ playful jam on the scene. It was the power I felt in the use of the local languange, the ”Patois”, that gave the songs something very peculiar, a soul.
I have been touristing in the Monterosa area since I was in my mother’s belly, and I have heard the Patois be spoken by all the local inhabitants between each other – they speak Italian with us, outsiders. And I still understand very little of this language, I am afraid. But somehow my heart understands the Patois, because I have learned all these years to love and understand the place where it is spoken. And there couldn’t be any other language that sounded so right in this place. The same way it is natural to wear the handicrafted ”sabot” only here and nowhere else.
Maura Susanna and Lois de Jariot know the strong binding that is between a place and the language that the people speak who live in that place. It is made of everyday’s things and actions, like baking bread and putting children to bed, and it is made of the fields and the mountains, the love and the longing for what we call ”home”.
The songs for this evening are played in the special atmosphere of the hotel, with its smelling interiors of lerch tree, and it is not difficult for us to fall in the right mood, even if we do not understand all the words.
The Patois is a French-Provencal language and it was originally spoken in a big area around the Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa, the queens of the Western Alps. Maura tells us that it is not unusual that she meets Swiss people from the Valais, who say their traditional language was very similar to it, but now the Patois is only living in Aosta Valley.
Maura Susanna plays also a few songs from other cultures, such as a Haitian ballade and a Brazilian. They are also simple music, as the music she writes, made of small stories tat people sang around the fireplace. It is often women who sing these songs, sometimes to make it easier to accept life’s dark sides, sometimes to celebrate a good day.
I think that her introduction meant that you are free if you know to appreciate your roots and the power that your mother language gives you.