Chimène Badi

Born : 30/10/1982 in Melun (France)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Female Artist
Style of music : Chanson

Underneath Chimène Badi's natural timidity lies a fierce determination and an iron will to succeed, and in this the young singer has been greatly supported by her family. Chimène rose to fame after appearing on a TV music reality show and went on to capture French music fans' hearts with a series of chart-topping singles. Thanks to her impressive vocal talent, Chimène has now established herself as the new French queen of the power ballad.

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    Underneath Chimène Badi's natural timidity lies a fierce determination and an iron will to succeed, and in this the young singer has been greatly supported by her family. Chimène rose to fame after appearing on a TV music reality show and went on to capture French music fans' hearts with a series of chart-topping singles. Thanks to her impressive vocal talent, Chimène has now established herself as the new French queen of the power ballad.

    Chimène Badi was born in Melun, in the Paris suburbs, on 30 October 1982. But she spent her entire childhood in the south-west of France, growing up in Villeneuve-sur-Lot with her parents, Chérifa and Mohammed, her sister, Déborah, and her brother, Karim. Her name appeared to destine her for a career in the arts. Some say the name Chimène is taken from Corneille's legendary play, "Le Cid." Others claim her father chose to call his daughter Chimène after seeing Anthony Mann's film, “El Cid,” starring Sophia Loren.

    From school shows to demos

    Whatever the real origin of Chimène's name, the young girl's vocation soon became clear. The budding young singer would spend hours watching "L'école des fans" (a popular French TV show which features children singing songs by their music idols). Chimène's idol at that time was a certain Yves Duteil! Meanwhile, Chimène was spending an increasing amount of time locked away in her bedroom, practising her scales. Her sister Déborah encouraged her to persevere with her singing and Chimène went on to hone her vocal style still further, performing at family parties and regional song contests from the tender age of six.

    Chimène also made her mark at her school's end-of-year shows, wowing the audience with her confident vocal performance. Teachers barely recognised Chimène who, when she was off stage, was a notoriously shy pupil, given to daydreaming and complexes about her appearance. Meanwhile, Chimène plugged away at her studies, going on to obtain a "BEP" in agribusiness. She appeared, without any great enthusiasm on her part, to be destined for a career in the food industry.

    But Chimène's real passion in life was music and, having no great desire to become a restaurant health inspector, she began dreaming of following in the footsteps of Lara Fabian, Tina Turner and Céline Dion. Taking her courage in both hands, Chimène went on to make a series of demo tapes and sent them to all the major labels in Paris. Alas, no-one returned her tapes or her calls. 

    A budding Pop Star

    Chimène's luck finally turned in 2002 when she signed up for an audition for the second series of the reality TV talent show "Pop Stars." Broadcast on the M6 channel in France, the show soon attracted prime time audiences and made Chimène a household name.

    Chimène actually failed to make it through to the final where winners were put together to form a group. But ultimately she proved to get the most out of the show, her desire being to launch a solo career rather than share the stage with a band. Fortunately for Chimène, Valéry Zeitoun, a member of the jury and, at that time, the director of French label AZ, was blown away by her performance, tears actually swelling in his eyes when he heard her rendition of Michel Berger's "Quelques mots d'amour."

    Chimène outclassed all the other Pop Star contestants with this performance and, realising her chart potential, Zeitoun instantly offered to take her under his wing. He went on to introduce his new protégée to Rick Allison (the man behind Lara Fabian's lightning rise to fame) and Allison sat down and penned a song specially tailored to Chimène's voice. The single "Entre nous", recorded in a studio in Montreal, ended up a huge hit, selling almost a million copies between France, Switzerland and Belgium. "Entre nous" became the title track of Chimène's debut album, entirely produced in Toulouse in the south of France.

    The album, released on 11 March 2003, spawned a whole string of chart-topping singles including "Je vais te chercher" (by Didier Golemanas) and "Si j'avais su t'aimer" (composed by leading songwriting duo Agnès Puget and Jean-Marc Haroutounian). Other highlights included a superb reworking of the Francis Cabrel classic "Répondez Moi" and the heart-wrenching "Pour l'amour qu'il nous reste." The album established Chimène as the new French queen of the power ballad, her ample vocals soaring to new decibel heights.

    With the mainstream public having endorsed Chimène as a rising new star, the young singer received another major symbol of recognition when veteran French rocker Johnny Hallyday invited her to join him on his stadium tour in June and July 2003. One of the highlights of the tour, organised to celebrate Johnny's 60th birthday, was when the pair appeared on stage together for a moving rendition of "Je te promets."

    2003 proved to be a busy year in Chimène's career, in fact, for she also got involved in "Coeur des Femmes", a collective organised by the singer Liane Foly to raise funds for the "Laurette Fugain" charity (which collects money for leukaemia research and campaigns for the donation of blood platelets). A "Coeur des Femmes" album, released on 18 May 2004, featured some thirty female artists singing on a dozen songs, most of them covers. On "Je Suis", a cover of the Michel Fugain classic, Chimène joined two major female singing stars: Lara Fabian and Maurane. 

    2004 : "Dis moi que tu m'aimes"

    At the beginning of 2004, Chimène Badi definitively earned her place in the French music pantheon thanks to two headlining shows at the Casino de Paris (20 & 21 January). Chimène's new status was confirmed when Les Enfoirés invited her to join them on stage later that month at Le Zénith in Toulouse to raise funds for Coluche's Restos du Coeur charity.

    Following this collective performance, Chimène turned her attention to her own solo career again, returning to the studio to work on her eagerly-awaited second album, "Dis moi que tu m'aimes." The first single release "Le jour d'après" (used as the theme tune to Roland Emerich's film of the same name) came out in the summer of 2004. The album hit record stores in the autumn of that year, on 11 October.

    Needless to say, a whole string of new Chimène Badi hits were soon sailing to the top of the charts. First there was "Je ne sais pas son nom", then "Retomber amoureux", then "Je viens du sud" (an adaptation of a Michel Sardou song from 1975). The latter, which proved to be the biggest hit from the album, was also intended as a tribute to Sardou, a singer of whom Chimène admitted to being a major fan after seeing him live in concert. Besides featuring work from songwriting maestro Rick Allison, the album "Dis moi que tu m'aimes" also included contributions from other leading talents such as Marc Lavoine, Jean-Félix Lalanne and Pascal Obispo's songwriters Lionel Florence and Patrice Guirao.

    While Chimène devoted most of 2004 to performing her new songs, she still found time to keep up her charity work. In November, she appeared at "Poussières d'anges", a fund-raising concert organised at La Cigale in Paris on behalf of the Enfance et Partage association. Chimène also guested on the single "Chanter qu'on les aime" masterminded by the singer Corneille with profits going to the Association Mondiale des Amis de l'Enfance. (An album was also released on 17 December 2004).

    At the beginning of 2005, Chimène got involved in another fund-raising project for Solidarité-Asie with profits going to the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami. A single "Et puis la terre" was taken from the “Solidarité-Asie” album which hit record stores on 17 January 2005. Chimène also waived the copyright on her single "Je ne sais pas son nom" for a compilation to raise money for another charity, Action Contre La Faim.

    Chimène's name up in lights

    With sales of her second album, "Dis moi que tu m'aimes", approaching the million mark, Chimène watched her name go up in red lights on the facade of the legendary Olympia music-hall in Paris (for two concerts on 20 & 21 February 2005). Bowing to popular demand, she performed two further dates there on 23 April and 4 May. These concerts were part of Chimène's mega-tour which continues right through until the end of the year. 

    Chimène took a short break from the tour to appear at France's "Night Of The Proms" in March 2005, performing at this series of original concerts fusing pop and classical music. Parisian fans turned out in force to see her at Bercy stadium on 4 March where she wowed the audience with new versions of "Le jour d'après", "Entre nous" and "Je viens du sud", accompanied on stage by a 70-strong symphony orchestra.

    Chimène ended up spending most of the year on the road, meeting her fans at live shows. Her tour continued until 19 December 2005 when she played a rousing finale at Le Zénith in Paris.

    In January 2006, Chimène went on to release "Live à l'Olympia", a live album capturing her performance at the legendary Olympia music-hall in Paris.

    After two years’ intensive touring, Chimène took a well-earned six-month break before starting work again and beginning preparations for a new album.

    2006: "Le miroir"

    At the age of just 24, Chimène released her third studio album entitled "Le miroir", an album which affirmed her desire to branch out into a wider repertoire, rather than restricting herself to rather old-fashioned 'variété' as she had done in the past. Songs on her new album included the R&B-style "Avec ou sans lui" and the danceable title track "Le miroir."

    Chimène reined in the power vocals on her new album, too, adopting more of a pop style to go with her new ‘wild girl’ image. However, fans did not appear to go for the new-look Chimène. Sales of "Le miroir" proved disappointing as did ticket sales for the singer’s new big-budget tour. Nevertheless, Chimène took to the stage of L’Olympia, in Paris, for a series of shows in the spring (6 -11 March 2007).

    She went on to perform at the Grand Rex in Paris on 19 January 2008. The tour finished in March, when the young singer went to live in the southern French town of Perpignan.

    Chimène Badi, whose career had got off to such a cracking start, began to realise what she had left to one side during her frenetic beginnings. She matured and became more confident and started working on an album more in line with her new, calmer self. The direct consequence was that she no longer used her powerful voice to sing loudly, but instead toned down and mastered the vocals. The change came as a surprise to some of her fans.

    In May 2010 she released “Laisse-les dire”. Two of the most personal tracks were co-written with the musician Olivier Bron: “Septembre 94” and “Une fille à sa mere”. She also asked Pierre-Dominique Burgaud to write the lyrics for four of the songs, including the single: “Laisse-les dire”, which talks of how the singer had been hounded by some of the media for several years. There was also a song written by Grand Corps Malade, “En vous”. The musical hues colouring the album tend towards RnB, even though the sum total is more pop in quality.

    The singer then went on tour in October, playing at the Olympia in Paris on 20, 21 and 22 of November.

    In November 2011, Chimène Badi released an album of covers entitled "Gospel & soul" featuring many of the tracks her father used to listen to when she was a child. Produced by Régis Ceccarelli, the album picks the best of the bunch, with songs like "Try My Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding and "For Once in My Life" by Stevie Wonder. She also performs a duet with the American Billy Paul on “Ain't no Mountain High Enough". "Amazing Grace" features the handiwork of the famous organist Rhoda Scott.
    The singer also chose to sing some French numbers, like "Parlez-moi de lui" by Nicole Croisille, "Ma liberté" by Georges Moustaki and "Tu planes sur moi", a track by the female duo, Native. The gospel and soul album put her back in the charts and led to several concerts in 2012.  
    August 2012

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