France's Carla Bruni: Presidential Wives Should Keep Working

France's Carla Bruni-Sarkozy says presidential wives — like any wives — should not feel forced into giving up their livelihoods when they marry.

The supermodel-turned-singer, who has an album coming out Friday, said in a radio interview Wednesday that she did not consider halting her singing career when she became the French first lady in February.

The Italian-born Bruni-Sarkozy did, however, take her husband's nationality. She said on France-Inter that she recently became a naturalized Frenchwoman and is awaiting her French passport.

She described the emotional and creative evolution of "Comme si de rien n'etait" (As If Nothing Had Happened), a collection of folk- and blues-inspired songs featuring her strumming guitar and crooning in her breathy, cracked voice.

The songs developed "a bit before, a bit during, a bit after" her whirlwind romance with Nicolas Sarkozy, which began when they met at a dinner in November, she said. Each song comes to her "as a kind of miracle," she said.

The record is gaining extra attention because it is her first since her marriage. She made two albums before that; like those, the new one will be released under her pre-wedding name, Carla Bruni.

Speaking of one song, "L'Amoureuse" (Woman In Love), she said she had the idea first a year ago. "But would I have finished it if I hadn't fallen in love?"

Bruni-Sarkozy, a 40-year-old former single mother, insisted that she plays "no political role" in France. She also says maintaining her singing career should not be considered strange.

"We are in 2008," she said. "Women, even those who marry a person in such an important function as that of my husband, continue in their professions."

Still, her current status means she will not give concerts for this album and that royalties will go charity.

Talking of her musical inspirations, she placed Billie Holiday in the top spot. "Billie Holiday, she always accompanies me," she said.

But Bruni-Sarkozy's tastes run the gamut: from The Clash to Dolly Parton, Bessie Smith and the Beatles. Her husband favors more standard, and more French, fare she said, including George Brassens and Jacques Brel.

The singer appeared braced for the possibility that her album could bomb.

"I understand absolutely all the reactions" of listeners, she said.

Then she added a reference to the differing political views in her household — the president is conservative, while his wife has been known for more leftist views. "This is how I consider myself a woman of the left, in the freedom that I accord to others."