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Julian Clerc biography

Julian Clerc biography

28 August 2004

Paul-Alain Leclerc was born on October 4, 1947 in Paris. His parents divorced when he was still young, and he grew up listening to classical music in his father's home, while his mother introduced him to the music of legendary singers such as Georges Brassens and Edith Piaf. He began to learn the piano at six, and by 13, started to play by ear everything he heard on the radio.

During his high school and university days, he met Maurice Vallet and Etienne Roda-Gil, two of his main songwriters, and began to compose his first songs. He changed his name to Julien Clerc upon signing a contract with the record company, Pathé Marconi, and released his first album in the midst of some of the most eventful days of May 1968.

Clerc's famous vibrato voice and neosymphonic music, coupled with the almost dreamlike lyrics written by Vallet and Roda-Gil, fitted in with that period of change. The songs were welcomed as a renaissance of the so-called traditional French songs with their very harmonic style, which was fairly unusual at the time, especially in France. The album went on to win the Charles Cros Academy Record Award.

In 1969, Clerc went on the Olympia stage for the first time to open for Gilbert Becaud's concert. Despite having been in show business for only one year, his performance was a great success. He would later return repeatedly to the Olympia for a series of concerts.

From May 1969 to February 1970, he starred in the highly successful Paris run of the musical, "Hair", which gave him an ideal platform to enhance his growing stature as an artist.

By the age of 24, Clerc already had his wax effigy in the Paris Musée Grevin. He had become a major star and continued to record hit after hit, many of which were sold abroad, translated and distributed in other languages.

In 1972, he played the part of a musician in a telefilm, and took on various acting roles throughout the '70s. But his film work never detracted from his first love, music.

In 1974, he was awarded an exceptional five gold records for the total outstanding sales of his previous albums. His image changed considerably during those years, evolving from a teen idol to a mature artist.

In 1979, he took part in two new collaborative ventures, singing the title song of the children's musical, "Emilie Jolie" and participating in "36 Front Populaire", a double album musical about a turbulent historical period.

Over the years, Clerc's repertoire has ranged from his own compositions to classic French songs like "Comme Hier" by Brassens and "L'hymne à l'amour" by Edith Piaf. He has performed in Africa, the Americas and Europe.

In the spring of 1998, he began an extended tour through France and Europe. He participated in the World Football Cup opening ceremony in Paris on June 10, and as a big football fan, he engaged with a French TV channel for match commentary and to nightly sing the national anthem of one of the teams playing.

That same summer, he won the SACEM (Société des Auteurs Compositeurs) Grand Spring award for his song "Les Séparés", based on a poem by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore.

In January 1999, Clerc went on stage at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and delivered an unplugged acoustic set that was a long way from the rock/pop-based shows that he had been giving his audience for some years.

During the early weeks of 2000, he appeared, along with many other artists, in a number of benefit concerts for Restaurants du Coeur, a charity which provides food to the needy in France, particularly during the difficult winter months.

Always on the lookout for new talents, Clerc began associations with new songwriters including the top model Carla Bruni, who was just then embarking on a musical career, writing six songs for his 18th album.

Other names also deserve mention: Franco-Algerian writer Nina Bouraoui; singer Assia, a newcomer to the soul groove scene; and her brother, the producer Khaled Maouene, nicknamed Khalil, who comes from a rough neighbourhood and has a "sound" that Clerc likes. But some of his long-standing friends were also on the album: Etienne Roda-Gil and David McNeil together with Laurent Chalumeau.

In a somewhat audacious move, in 2003 Clerc recorded a new album of classic American "standards", in French, giving the familiar tunes the Julien Clerc touch.

On another front, Clerc was named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at a ceremony in Paris in November 2003 after working for nearly two years with the agency on various benevolent projects for refugees. In March 2004, he undertook his first field mission to meet with refugees and aid workers in Chad. His mission was documented by "Envoyé spécial" and was broadcast on a national French TV channel in April 2004.

Clerc is married and has three daughters.