11 April 1944

Nicoletta (real name: Nicole Grisoni) was born in Vongy, Thonon-les-Bains in Haute-Savoie. During her childhood, Nicoletta sings in the local church choir. She discovers American blues music at an early age and she grows a particular interest in Elvis Presley. These are the 'yé-yé'-days in France....

She moves to Paris and becomes a disc jockey in some Paris club in the early sixties. She encounters Léo Missir, then artistic director of record label Barclay, and he helps her release her first single in 1966 'L'homme à la moto', a cover from the Leiber & Stoller hit 'Black denim trousers and motorcycle boots', earlier succesfully recorded in French by Edith Piaf.

The following year her career really takes of with the release of the singles 'La musique' (coverversion of 'Angelica' by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) and 'Il est mort le soleil', cover from a Ray Charles song with French lyrics by Pierre Delanoë. Succes continues with other singel releases, mostly covers from American and Brittish songs, like 'Les Orgues d'antan' ('A Whiter Shade Of Pale') and 'Ça devait arriver' (' I Put A Spell on You').

Nicoletta, with her impressive voice, is an outsider in the yé-yé periode in France and in innovates traditional French chanson to a mature and yet modern style. Famous French singer Charles Aznavour described Nicoletta with the following words: "Elle a la voix des mots et du cœur, des angoisses du corps. La voix de la véhémence du bonheur cherché, perdu et parfois rencontré. La voix qui appelle à l'amour, à l'acte amoureux. Elle est le réalisme de sa génération."

In 1968 Nicoletta was named 'l'Idole des idoles' ('Idol amongst the idols'). She tours with Johnny Hallyday and keeps on releasing singles. In 1969, she releases the song 'Jeff' from the motion picture of the same name. Another string of hitsingles were to follow: Quand on a que l'amour (the classic Jacques Brel song), 'Où es-tu passé mon Saint-Germain-des-Prés ?' and 'Ma vie c'est un manège'. In 1970 she participates in the San Remo Festival and tours in Canada and South America. After her return to France, she plays a part in the movie 'Un aller simple' by José Giovanni.

In1971 she records the album 'Visage' together with French group 'Zoo', who accompannied Léo Ferré earlier that year. This record contained the revolutionary song 'Dieu est nègre' ('God is a negro') that was banned in Spain. Furthermore, it contained ' La Promeneuse', composed especially for her by Julien Clerc, and a beautiful interpretation of 'La solitude, ça n'existe pas' from Gilbert Bécaud. But the song 'Mamy Blue' proved to become her signature song. It was inspired by her mother, who sufferd from a mental handicap.

In 1973, Nicoletta releases the album '73', which continued her succes with hitsingles like 'Les Volets clos' and 'Fio Maravilla', a Brasilian song with French lyrics by Boris Bergman. December 1974, Nicoletta records her first gospel: 'Glory Alleluia' for a mess broadcasted by RTL. She performes three weeks in a row in the famous French concert hall 'l'Olympia' in 1975, followed by her next album release, 'Sur les bords de la tendresse'. After her 1976 release 'Amour violet', composed by her new musical director Daniel Carlet, Nicoletta decided to take some time of to dedicate herself more to her family.

She comes back in 1983 together with Bernard Lavilliers with the song 'Idées noires', that sold over 1.5 milion copies. During the eighties, Nicoletta performs the songs of Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weil (1987) and participates in the musical 'Quasimodo', music composed by William Sheller. Together with Sheller, she works on the album 'J'attends, j'apprends', realsed in 1995. It proved to be one of the most inspired albums of Nicoletta's carreer. The spirit really got into nicoletta, so it seemed, and in 1997 she release a live gospel album, recorded with The Gospel Voices. In 1998 it was followed by 'Connivences', again a collaboration with Sheller.

After a few years of relative inactivity, Nicoletta comes back in 2006 with a brand new album, 'Les rendez-vous'. The album contains interpretations of classic songs from the American songbook, rejuvenated completely by Nicoletta. In 2008 she publishes a book entitled 'La maison d'en face', in which she gives a very personal insight in her personal life. In 2013 she returns to her unique talent of mixing black music with french song with a team of young people.

On the web:

- Nicoletta's website: http://www.nicoletta-music.fr

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

De Dijk (Netherlands)

What do we think:

PR: Nicoletta has a great voice. And although she recorded many American and Brittish chart successes, she always somehow turned them into actual French songs. Not every record she released, is worth buying. However, she did release some of the very famous French songs throughout her career (who does not know 'Mamy blue'?) and with her very specific, bluesy voice, she certainly gained a special place in French pop music. 'Visage' is her best record of the first part of her career and a must have. 'J'attends, j'apprends' is a beautiful collection of new songs written by herself and a string of famous composers.

DB: I love the bluesy feel Nicoletta lays in her early records. As Paul Royal says even if Nicoletta covers English material ('Whiter shade of pale' for instance) she does it with such a unique signature that it becomes her own song. Her material after 1977 is somewhat dubious. Funny (for lack of a better word) but not the high quality she lays in her early stuff. Her 1997 Gospel album is a return to form. And the title track of her 2006 album (recorded with Manu Chao) is one of my favourite tracks of that year.

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪♪ - Il est mort le soleil - 1967

♪♪♪♪ - Visage - 1971

♪♪♪ - Nicoletta 73 - 1973

♪- Naturelle...ma belle - 1980

♪♪♪♪♪ - J'attends, j'apprends - 1995

♪♪♪♪ - Nicoletta & The Gospel Voices - 1997

♪♪ - Connivences - 1998

♪♪♪ - Le rendez-vous -2006

♪♪♪½ - Ici et ailleurs - 2013

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided