Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lara Fabian

Lara Fabian (born Lara Crokaert January 9, 1970 in Etterbeek, Belgium) is an international Belgian-Sicilian francophone singer, known for her vocal prowess and skilled technique. She often sings in Italian, Spanish, and English in addition to French. She has also sung once in Portuguese, though she is not fluent in the language, and also once in German back in 1988 for a German version of "Croire" ("Glaub"). She does not speak German either. She has sold over 12 million records worldwide so far. She also possesses a Canadian citizienship achieved in 1994 at the time she began her career in Québec.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lara's early years

Lara was born to a Flemish father and a Sicilian mother. Her name comes from her parents' inspiration of the theme song of the film Doctor Zhivago. Although born in Etterbeek (Belgium), she spent her first five years in Catania, learning Italian as a first language, before moving back to Belgium, in Brussels. Lara began singing, dancing, and taking piano lessons at a very young age and began formal music lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels at age eight. Lara began writing and performing her own songs during her ten years study at the conservatory. Lara's songs were greatly influenced as much by her classical vocal and music theory training as contemporary artists as Barbra Streisand and Queen. During this time, Lara entered a number of European competitions and won several prizes. A consequence of winning one of those contests was the release of her first ever single " L'Aziza est en pleurs" / Il y avait " (written by the Belgian composer Marc Lerchs) a homage to the deceased French singer Daniel Balavoine, in the year of 1986.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Music career in 1988 - 1993

In 1988, the RTL TV channel in Luxembourg invited Lara to represent the country at the 33rd Eurovision Song Contest, held that year in Dublin, Ireland. The song presented to Lara was a composition made by Jacques Cardona and Alain Garciac entitled Croire (Trust) and reached a respectful fourth place that night. The winning song belonged to Switzerland, whose singer was no other than Céline Dion with Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi. "Croire" became a big seller single that year in Europe reaching nearly 500.000 copies. Lara still performs Croire live today.

Upon finishing her studies (Lara was originally planing to devote her life to child criminology), in 1990 Lara travelled to Canada to promote her third single Je Sais and fell in love with the province of Quebec. In 1991, with two suitcases and $1,000 in her pocket, Lara moved to Montreal, Canada to embark on a career in North America. She began her own music label and publishing company, Productions Clandestines. She didn't leave Brussels all by herself, as her then friend and music collaborator Rick Allison had also left his native Belgium and travelled with Lara to an adventure which became Lara's rise to fame and her career so far. Rick first met Lara in a jazz bar in Brussels some years prior and was impressed by Lara's vocals on Ella Fitzgerald's Summertime. The pair worked steadily on writing and recording songs.

In 1991, Fabian's self-titled French-language debut album, Lara Fabian, which had been recorded earlier in Belgium, was released in Canada in August 1991 and sold over 100,000 copies. The debut album went on to be certified Gold in 1993 and then certified platinum the following year. The success of such upbeat Dance-pop singles like Le Jour Où Tu Partira, Les Murs, and Qui Pense à l'Amour gave Lara the exposure she needed on the radio. Lara received several nominations at the 1993 ADISQ awards and a poll published around that time revealed that Lara was considered Quebec's most promising singer.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Breaktrough in 1994-1996

Her constant touring in Quebec helped her 1994 album Carpe Diem to be her breakthrough album. The album went gold in less than three weeks of its release, and had three hit singles:Tu t'en vas, Si tu m'aimes, and Leïla. The following year, the album went triple platinum and Lara’s SRO tour attracted more than 150,000 fans. This success was recognized at the 1995 ADISQ gala in which Lara received two Félix awards: Best Show Of The Year and Best Female Singer Of The Year, a category that is voted upon by the public).

In January 1995, Serge Lama requested for Lara to join himself on the stage of the Paris venue Palais des Congrès to perform "Je suis malade", which she renewed on her Carpe Diem album. Impressed by the audience's response to his and Lara's duet, Serge right away asked Lara to sing the song once more on her own, which again delighted the audience.

In 1996, Walt Disney Studios immortalized Lara's voice when they asked her to do the voice for the character Esmeralda and sing a song for the animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Disney also included Lara's French version of the song on the film’s (English) soundtrack album beside that of Bette Midler's version, which was a unique move for the company.

Friday, November 23, 2007

1997-1999 success on international stage!!

Lara's 1997 album Pure, was a two million-selling album in France from which came the anti-homophobia anthem "La Difference." The album went platinum in less than two weeks. Lara again was bestowed with awards, being awarded a Félix for Popular Album Of The Year at the 1997 ADISQ gala and was also nominated for two Juno Awards in the Best Female Singer and Best Selling French Album categories.

This recognition once again attracted the attention of movie studios. The producer of Daylight, (starring Sylvester Stallone), asked Lara and Rick Allison to write a song for the movie. The song they created is Tant Qu'Il y Aura de l'Amour, the French version of the song performed by Donna Summer and Bruce Roberts.

Lara then signed a contract with the French Polydor label for several albums, and Pure was released in June 1997. Upon its release, Lara's European career skyrocketed. Sales of Pure hit the 2 million mark, while the singles Tout, Je T'Aime, and Humana each sold more than 1 million copies. In January 1998, Lara sang a duet with Johnny Hallyday at a benefit concert given for the Restos du Coeur in France. Lara's own tour during this time had two sold-out shows at L'Olympia (France). A month later, on that very same stage, Lara was given the Discovery Of The Year award during the Victoires de la Musique Gala. Soon after, Polydor released "Carpe Diem" in Europe.

After a sold-out two-night stint at the Paris Palais des Sports in April, Lara was even more in demand. Once again she was invited to perform with Johnny Hallyday during several concerts given at the Stade de France in front of 240,000 fans. The following fall, Lara undertook a European tour that reached audiences of more than 100,000.

Lara's popularity is perhaps exemplified by the famous Grévin Wax Museum's decision to unveil her wax effigy, as a Quebec City museum had already done. She thus became the first female Canadian singer ever to be honoured by the Paris institution.

In November 1998, Lara received the Félix Award for Artist With The Most Recognition Outside Quebec at the ADISQ Gala. In December, Lara was chosen Revelation Of The Year by the magazine Paris Match, which put her on its cover to mark this occasion.

Lara spent most of fall 1998 in France, where she embarked on an extensive tour of 24 cities including Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Geneva and Monaco. During this sold-out concert tour, Lara performed for audiences of more than 150,000. In May 1999, Lara was honoured at the World Music Awards in Monaco, where she was given the award for Best Selling Record for the Year 1998 for her album Pure.

In July 1999, with over 6 million records sold across Europe, Polydor released Lara’s eponymous (her self-titled debut from 1991) album. The European version of this early album contained slight modifications, such as a new album cover and the addition of the song Croire.

Lara released a live album, Lara Fabian Live, which debuted at #1 on the France charts in 1998. This helped solidified the international buzz around her and she received an international recording contract from Sony Music, which released her self-titled, English-language album, "Lara Fabian", in 2000

Thursday, November 22, 2007

2000-2001 US and Latin America tours

In the summer of 1999, Lara crossed the Atlantic to record her first English-language album Lara Fabian (2000) in New York and San Francisco for the Sony label. The songs were written and produced with the help of her partner Rick Allison and Dave Pickell as well as with Walter Afanasieff, Glen Ballard and Pat Leonard.

Lara has recorded songs for several Hollywood motion picture soundtracks such as "The Dream Within" for the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within soundtrack and, "For Always" for the AI:Artificial Intelligence soundtrack. Lara has also ventured into movies, appearing in the film De-Lovely, performing Cole Porter's So In Love with Mario Frangoulis, and the song appears on the movie soundtrack as well. Lara also appears on the soundtrack "Songs From Dawson's Creek, Vol. 2".

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back in French in 2001-2002

Nue (Naked) was Lara's fourth French album to be released in the Fall of 2001 in both Québec and France, making her return to her French singing roots. Her rollercoaster experience surrounding her first English recording album was so intense and, although critically praised, personally exhausting. Her emotional ride through the last previous years was somehow documented in a very personal record to which Lara, alongside her partner and producer Rick Allison, called "Nue". An album that undressed Lara from all the bad remarks she had suffered over the years as an artist and presented a much more vulnerable and fragile yet with an exceptional vocal strength to open up her heart and mind.

Her fist single released in the summer that year was the anthem "J'y Crois Encore", a top 20 French hit followed by the release of the album later that month. The album reached #1 in Belgium and #2 in France (but saddly did little impact in her home beloved Québec). Other singles followed, such as the Lara's personal favourite track "Immortelle" (a strong song that remains constantly present in Lara's live concerts), "Aimer Dejá" and the nominated song of the year in 2002 hit "Tu Es Mon Autre" (a duet with fellow Belgian friend and singer Maurane), which scored the top 5 in France. This has become another trademark song in Lara's carear as she has performed it so many time with so many other artists (including Rick Allison during her 2001/2002 tour).

In addition, this album was also released in Portugal (having reached the top 10 on the album charts during the fall of 2001) as a consequence of her tremendous success of her previous English album, presenting the Portuguese audience with her French singing repertoire.

At this very same time, Lara was once again touring but in a more intimate and acoustic way at the Casino de Paris every November Monday night. An acoustic set that became her transition towards a new Lara Fabian that the public was on verge of knowing and worshiping. During this tour Maurane and Daniel Lavoie were two of the main performing guests duetting with her on "Tu Es Mon Autre", of course, and "Je Suis Mon Coeur", written for Lara by Lavoie himself. This acoustic also led to another live CD/DVD release in the end of 2003.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2003 "En Toute Intimité"

In 2003, Lara released the best-selling European DVD and CD, "En Toute Intimité", which was an intimate, acoustic piano-based collection showcasing Lara performing songs in English, Italian, and French.

On the DVD recorded at the mythic Olympia theatre Lara made her homage to Celine Dion's biggest French classic "Pour Que tu M'aimes encore" making it clear how respectful was her appreciation for the Canadian singer despite years of media scrutiny against Lara in comparison to Celine Dion. Besides some of Fabian's most remarkable hits and album tracks, one could find classics such as Dalla's "Caruso" (so often performed by Lara before); Jevetta Stelle's "Calling You" from the Bagdad Café soundtrack; "Mistral Gagnant" of French singer Renauld and a medley from the worldwide known French musical "Starmania".

Lara had the chance to not only interpret the songs but she also took advantage of the intimacy in the room and closeness with the audience to play a role and share her passion for acting. The result, according to many who attended the tour, was amazing. Somey may even consider that the hightlight of this concert was Lara's new rendition of Lama's "Je Suis Malade". A song that has been so popularized by Lara herself ever since she released it on her "Carpe Diem" nine years before. This time around her performance was a beautiful mixture of a spoken monologue and theatrical singing acompanied by her pianist alongside. As the second verse comes in she begins singing it in a very smooth and hearfelt way opposite to the previous dramatic belting performances from the past. The unexpected happens towards the final secction of the song everything stops. Pierre Grimard, the pianist leaves the set, Lara looks down and grabs the micro and then with her arms down she moves further near the audience and begins belting out with no micro in pure accapella delivering what may be her best performance of this song so far. As she hits the final note the audiece rises and gives her a tremendous standing ovation as she finishes falling down on the floor.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Wonderful Life album of 2004

In 2004, Lara released her second English album A Wonderful Life. The project was commercially disastrous but critically-praised. The album did not surpass the success of her previous English debut effort, but created a path for a sound and musical change that would trademark Lara's music onwards. The more organic sound is due to the exceptional work of French guitarist Jean-Félix Lalanne, and also working with producers such as Desmond Child and the British team True North (composed of Take That singer Gary Barlow and fellow mate Elliot Kennedy) among others.

The center piece of this record, as Lara stated on a promotional interview for this album, is "Review My Kisses", a song written by Desmond Child and planned to be recorded initially by Lara herself but was somehow left aside. Later in 2002, it was LeAnn Rimes who ended up recording it for her album "Twisted Angel." Lara ended up recording it for "A Wonderful Life" afterwards. The first single release (though only for radio) was "The Last Goodbye" in the US and most other countries (except France). The video premiered on Portuguese talk show "Herman Sic" one day before the album was released. In the meantime, Lara decided to release a different song in France, considering that "The Last Goodbye" was too "American" for an audience that was more used to her own songwriting. She released (with a video as well) the song "No Big Deal." Nevertheless, neither of the songs achieved massive or moderate success caused by Lara's personal decision to withdraw from the project, and also due to conflicts with Sony Music. This led to a lack of promotion for the album, as well as a cancellation of the album's release in the United States.

At least one song from the album saw some light and shining moments when included on a Brazilian soap opera, "I Guess I Loved You." Brazil is still one of those countries strongly passionate for Lara's music, and therefore this song was chosen for the soundtrack of "Senhora do Destino" (Lady Of Destiny) almost gaining the same popularity that "Love By Grace" did back in 2001. The song also gained some popularity in Portugal for the same reasons, though it was never officially released or promoted.

Lara was almost in complete seclusion for the rest of 2004 from the music scene, having left her second English record aside. Newspapers began speculating about a serious disease that had affected Lara. The drama was so big and so exaggerated that Lara herself proved to be well enough to appear on a short interview in Québec later that year, explaining some of the reasons she withdrew from the public eye and also why she left Québec (where she lived for nearly 15 years) and returned to her native Belgium.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"9" of 2005

She re-appeared on the music scene in France (and also in Canada) with a brand new record, an album that marked a completely different direction in Lara's musical and personal life. In early 2005 she released her 5th French album "9", a title that symbolically resembles "a change," "a rebirth [...]the end of a period of time in one's life and simultaneously the beginning of another."

Lara sang differently, with smoothness, serenity and with a lot of joy. This was far from the in-depth and dramatic vibes of earlier recordings. Critical voices that had so often given bad reviews for Lara's vocal abilities, claiming that she "screamed," or that she was just attempting to "become" another Celine Dion finally saw a Lara that no longer used her vocal power to reach her audience. The album yielded the hit single "La Lettre," a song co-written by Lara and composed by her new-found partner and lover at the time, Jean-Félix Lalanne. He would, in fact, be the other element responsible for the composition and production of the album's 11 tracks with Lara herself. Other singles featured were "Ne Lui Parlez Plus D'Elle," "Un Ave Maria", "Il Ne Manquait Que Toi" (a song written by Lara and inspired by Lallane) and the gospel-infused "L'Homme Qui N'Avait Pas De Maison."

The success of this album was then followed by a huge tour called "Un Regard 9" in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon, Russia, Quebec, Turkey, Luxembourg, Mauritius, French overseas territories of the Caribbean and Oceania (more than 60 concerts), and a summer tour. Lara also performed in Portugal for the first time, showcasing songs from her two English records and a few French songs like "La Lettre."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2005-2006 Un Regard 9

In the meantime, Lara has just released her new live CD/DVD "Un Regard 9 LIVE". Recorded in March 2006 at the Zenith in Paris, the CD presents 15 live performances plus a brand new song, "Aime," recorded in a studio in Montreal. This song has been recorded in both English and French, though the latter version is the only one officially released so far. It was initially presented live during a few concerts in Belgium as gift for her native Belgium fans, but the enthusiastic response and feedback was so huge that Lara felt she should record the song and include it on a forthcoming release.

On TV shows, where Lara has been promoting the song as a single, one can see the audience putting their hands in the air in the shape of a heart, a sign Lara made during her tour and that has now became a symbol for the song and its meaning. The entire live concert features songs from Lara's latest studio album "9" and old songs all performed acoustically. Certain songs like "Tout" for instance were completely re-arranged to fit with this new sound and the concept of the show. A stand-out moment during the concert is the homage Lara makes to her idol Barbra Streisand, singing "Papa Can You Hear Me" and "A Piece Of Sky" both taken from Streisand's 1983 movie "Yentl." These two songs had been previously performed in medley by Lara, back in 1997, during a concert in Québec at the time Pure was released. This time around, these songs get the chance to fully showcase Lara's amazing vocals on a record.

On the DVD one can find track that were intentionally left off from the CD, like "Je T'Aime" or even two English songs taken from Lara's two English records, "Broken Vow" and "I Guess I Loved You". According to Lara, these tracks had a more visual aspect on them than just being simply listened on a record. Therefore they are shown on the DVD and not the CD. Another amazing example presented on this DVD is the almost 10 minute performance of "Humana", a track and single taken off 1997 album Pure, which went longer than expect in running time during the concert due to the public's enthusiasm that took over during the performance and during 10 minutes besides Lara's normal vocal performance one ends up having the audience singing to the song all over during four or five minutes longer while Lara, caught by surprise with this reaction, jumps with joy motivating the audience to continue singing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

2006 - nowadays

According to recent messages left by Lara on her official site, www.lara-fabian.fr, her next studio album will be her first Italian-language project. Few details have been released thus far, except that she has been working with Neapolitan singer and songwriter Gigi D'Alessio, who appeared once at one of her shows, and whose performance is included as a bonus on Lara's recent Live DVD. The two have recorded a song called "Un Cuore Malato" ("ill heart"), which they performed live during the fourth night of the 2007 Sanremo festival on Rai Uno, the main Italian public channel. Lara's Italian album is expected to be released around spring of the same year.

It has now been confirmed that there is a French/Italian version for this duet (Un Coeur Blessé) and that such version will be released during summer (now confirmed to be on the 28th May) in France to radio and TV performances will follow to promote this single.

Lara will working in Rome and Los Angeles until June 2007 to further writing and recording sessions for her Italian album. In the meantime, her current single "Un Cuore Malato" (with Gigi D'Alessio) has reached the top of the Italian charts and reached the top 20 in France (#16).

Since early June Lara has been working in Los Angeles alongside with Dave Stewart (of British band Eurythmics) and former Alanis Morissette producer and writing partner, Glenn Ballard on Lara's so aforementioned "multilingual" record which will include songs in English, Spanish, French and Italian and maybe a few other languages (resembling some of the recorded albuns by singers such as Josh Groban, Mario Frangoulis or even Russell Watson with whom she has recorded before). This album is expected to be released somewhere around 2008 or 2009. Lara will return to Los Angeles next year now to finish the recording process around this record.

Lara revealed some time ago , related to this project, that she wrote a song with Dave Stewart called "Between Hatred And Love" and a few tracks with Glen Ballad, who had previously composed a track for Lara titled "Ivy" and released as a b-side for the single "Adagio" in 1999.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lara's discography:

  • Lara Fabian (1991) - French debut album
  • Carpe Diem (1994)
  • Pure (1997)
  • Lara Fabian Live (1998)
  • Lara Fabian (2000) - English debut album
  • Nue (2001)
  • Live (2002)
  • En Toute Intimité (2003) - CD
  • A Wonderful Life (2004)
  • 9 (2005)
  • Un regard 9 LIVE (2006)
  • Italian language Album Project/ TBA (2008)