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In love with linguistics

The average audience at one of Jessica Fichot's concerts will only understand one or two songs on the program. Fichot sings and writes in French, English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and, on occasion, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic.

"I appreciate the beauty of language itself," says the French singer and songwriter. "There's emotions in the vocals and the instruments themselves, without needing to overanalyze the content. It's a little bit mysterious."

Pluralism and languages come naturally to Fichot, who was born in the United States to a French father and Chinese mother and raised in France. Fichot, who now lives in Los Angeles, says her music — like Paris — is international on the surface and French at heart.

The Siskiyou Institute presents Fichot on vocals, accordion and toy piano with her band — Robby Marshall (clarinet, saxophone and flute), Michael Papillo (upright bass) and Antoine Salem (guitar) — at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at Paschal Winery & Vineyard, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent.

Fichot combines French chanson with folk, Gypsy-jazz, cabaret and world-music styles to form an eclectic platform for her multilingual lyrics.

After graduating from the School of Audio Engineering in Paris, Fichot attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving west. At first, she found a niche writing children's songs for musical theater and, later, for English language-learner programs. But as her songwriting matured, so did the content.

Fichot's international influences materialized on her 2007 debut, "Le Chemin" ("The Path"), which received favorable reviews by LA Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle and other California publications.

"Le Secret," Fichot's most recent studio project, is set for release in June, although advance copies will be available at her Paschal show.

The album possesses the warmth and acoustic charm of her first recording but is slightly more modern and personal. Ten of the 12 songs on the album are original. They vary from the ethereal, string-based opener "La Route M'appelle" to "Shanghai," a song with a Brazilian bounce, French and Mandarin Chinese lyrics and gu zheng, or Chinese zither, stylings.

Nearly 28 musicians are featured on the album playing traditional instruments and also using everyday objects to make music. Some of these untraditional instruments include coins in a metal plate, matches and a lighter, and a slap on Fichot's back. The result is not weird, experimental music, but a sound that is both traditional, textured and interesting, Fichot says.

"Le Secret" also features versions of Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang," sung in Chinese, and the mariachi classic "Luz de Luna."

Tickets to the show at Paschal cost $20, $15 for members of The Siskiyou Institute. Email info@siskiyou-institute.com or call 541-488-3869 for details.

Jessica Fichot and her band, left to right, Michael Papillo, Robby Marshall and Antoine Salem, throw French 'chanson,' folk, gypsy jazz, cabaret and world music into their musical melting pot. - Photo courtesy of Andy Sheng