Périnne Diot has been training in her living room for three months. This Sunday, August 27, she will have to go on stage at the Rock en Seine grove, in front of thousands of excited festival-goers. However, it is not she who will sing. She is a qualified sign language interpreter and will chansign the concert of rapper-rocker Zed Yun Pavarotti.
As its name suggests, the principle of this practice is quite simple: the performers stand alongside the groups on stage and translate the lyrics of the songs to the hearing-impaired audience. “But we are not only there to transcribe a text, details the thirty-year-old enthusiastically, we must also render the emotions, the intensities of the voices, the rhythm of the music. »
Render the emotions of the voice
To do this, she must immerse herself in the world of singers, whom she generally meets for the first time on the day of the concert. Once Périnne Diot has received the text and the sound, she sets to work: learning the lyrics by heart, then translating them taking into account the music, and modifying it until she obtains the most faithful and complete as possible.
Her companion, Yassine, who has shared the living room-office for the past three months, testifies to the passion she shows. “She is a hard worker, very invested, especially when she is looking for the best way to translate the metaphors into the texts of the two songs she is going to perform,” he explains.
The singer must also find the right tone to stick to the genre of the music. “For example, if I’m translating metal, the voices are usually more carried so I’m going to make bigger gestures. For rap, it will be more jerky to stick to the rapid flow of the lyrics, and the classic will generally be quite round, I sign more in height, ”explains Périnne Diot, suiting the gesture to the word. All this also requires physical preparation, because “there is a great risk of tendinitis”, laughs the young woman.
Spotlight at the Super Bowl
This profession, still little known in France, has been completely democratized in the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act has required venues and festivals to provide an interpreter for the hearing impaired since 1990. This binding legislation brought the profession into the global spotlight during the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show , followed live by nearly 119 million viewers in the United States, where Rihanna’s sign language interpreter delivered an impressive performance, igniting social networks and almost stealing the spotlight from the pop star.
France is far from reaching this level of inclusiveness, as even some speeches by the President of the Republic may not be translated into sign language. The government had nevertheless undertaken, a month before the start of the first confinement, to strengthen “the accessibility of essential programs for our fellow citizens”.
“In fact, we do not realize that it is a whole forgotten audience”, laments the interpreter whose vocation was born of “frustration”, when she could not exchange with a boy. deaf as a child. It happens that festivals only provide vibrating vests, but the songwriter protests: “Vibrations are not everything, a whole part of the show is missing. »
More and more requests in France too
But Périnne Diot assures her, her job is growing and she receives more and more requests for songwriting. The collective 10 Doigts en cavale, which she co-founded, received about fifteen festival requests this summer, compared to three or four when it was created, just four years ago. The Les Vieilles Charrues festival, for example, offered translated songs for the first time this year.
Families and mixed couples, that is to say hearing and deaf, can thus participate for the first time in their life in a musical event. “People tell me: it’s great, I’m not left out, says Périnne Diot. It is a question of equality and sharing. Conscious of leaving aside a whole part of their public, artists are also more and more interested in this practice. Thus, little by little, the chansign makes its nest.