July 17, 2009 / 7:11 PM / 10 years ago

Sarkozy to watch wife Bruni sing at Mandela show

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive at the Elysee Palace following the Bastille day parade in Paris, July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy will sing in public for the first time since marrying President Nicolas Sarkozy at a concert in New York on Saturday to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday.

The French president will attend the event, where his wife will perform along with Aretha Franklin, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper and others, organizers said Friday.

Bruni-Sarkozy, 41, released her third album months after she married Sarkozy in February 2008. She will perform with former Eurythmics musician Dave Stewart.

More than 18 months ago, Stewart and Bruni-Sarkozy began writing songs that have yet to be released. Stewart, 56, said in an interview with Reuters that he wrote the melodies, while she wrote the French lyrics.

The duo will perform her biggest hit “Quelqu’un m’a dit” (“Someone told me”) and a version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Stewart said the former top model’s voice was akin to a female version of Dylan’s.

“She is a great songwriter, a great wordsmith, and she has got one of those smoky, husky voices that is like a certain singer, like a Dylan or a Leonard Cohen, but in a female way,” he said of the first lady.

“It is addictive to listen to, and she writes very beautiful melodies and plays guitar well.”

The three-hour Mandela Day concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall also features top African talent like the Soweto Gospel Choir and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal.

Editing by Mark Egan

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