The Italian-born, globe-trotting fashion model recorded an international hit in 2002, "Quelqu'un M'a Dit" (in English, "Someone Told Me"). In 2008, she married Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, and became literally a rock star first lady.
Now, with Sarkozy out of office, Bruni has released a new album, Little French Songs.
"It was a mix of circumstances," Bruni tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "I did wait until my husband was not the president of France anymore. But I also waited because I had a little girl, a baby girl, so I had really no choice. ... I did it piece by piece. I wrote the album, then I recorded the album in another time, then I released the album in another time — instead of doing it all at once like most songwriters do."
The new album features a love song called "Mon Raymond." Bruni says she wrote it for her husband, but chose an alias for two reasons: "Nicolas" was claimed decades ago by another French-speaking singer; and in any case, she wanted an easier name with which to rhyme.
"[Raymond is] a round sound. Also, it's sort of an old-fashioned name. For us, in France, Raymond was more the people from the '40s, the '50s," she says. "I thought it was funny to use such a name to describe him — quite precisely, by the way."