Garou

Born : 26/6 /1972 in Sherbrooke (Canada)
Country : Canada
Language : French
Category : Male Artist
Style of music : Chanson

He got started as Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame de Paris. A funny introduction onto the scene for this tall young man with light eyes and raspy voice who knew right away how to capture the public's heart. Solo, he took the road of pop music, guided by Celine Dion's René.

He got started as Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame de Paris. A funny introduction onto the scene for this tall young man with light eyes and raspy voice who knew right away how to capture the public's heart. Solo, he took the road of pop music, guided by Celine Dion's René.

Born on June 26th, 1972 in Sherbrook, a town in the Estrie region of Quebec, Garou produced his first notes as early as three years old. His childhood was basked in music. His father, a guitarist in his free time, bought Garou his first guitar and at five, our little Pierre Garand had mastered the piano. Following this he discovered the organ. Garou demonstrated a certain and marked interest for music. All this made one believe in a gift, an innate talent. At family gatherings every occasion was a pretext to sing.

During his adolescence, Garou went to a conservative junior high school where discipline prevailed. Around the age of fourteen, when adolescence started to kick in, our boy who was first in the class turned into an unsuspected rebel. His trumpet teacher kicked him out of class, furious about Garou's too frequent clownish behaviour. Nothing could stop him, music didn't leave him even after all that. He joined his school band Windows & Doors, as guitarist. Garou went on stage for the first time in the auditorium of this same school and filled the place. This was his first success and confirmation of his joy through music. He sang Beatles' songs. His beautiful voice full of emotion and rebellion resembled more that of Paul McCartney before reaching maturity which would transform it into a raspy, full and heartrending sound which attracts his fans today. All of this took place barely ten years before his life-changing meeting with Luc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante.

Eclectic songs

At the beginning of the Nineties, Garou joined the Canadian army as a trumpetist in the marching band. This lover of horns was noticed more for his attitude of a troubadour singing of love and peace than the disciplined cadet with polished boots. Three years later, our employee of a hundred jobs became a grape picker, a mover, a salesman in a fashion boutique etc.

After work he was often found playing the guitar in the bars of his hometown or playing for people on the streets at three in the morning. His pleasure was contagious, passers-by stood around him tapping their feet, and singing along. Our night owl lived for the moment, played in the Montreal metro and would adapt his repertoire to the passers-by with a selection as eclectic as Charles Aznavour, the Sex Pistols, and even children's songs. His visionary friends predicted a big career for Garou but he thought they were crazy.

In the middle of the Nineties, when he was attending a friend's show in a bar, someone invited him to sing as a special guest. The owner of the establishment hired him on the spot. Garou then did his first solo show, guitar slung across his shoulder, not a care in the world and full of overwhelming enthusiasm. Shortly afterwards, Garou's Sundays quickly became the most popular evening at the Liquor Store of Magog, near Sherbrooke. He then formed the group The Untouchables, who would later accompany him on his "Seul" tour.

Quasimodo

In summer of '97, his future would be decided when a certain Luc Plamondon, who had a summer residence in the region, went to their show and believed to have found the one who could inhabit the complex and uncommon character of Quasimodo. He invited him right away to an audition for "Notre-Dame de Paris". Richard Cocciante played the first few notes of "Belle", Luc Plamondon and Richard Cocciante looked at each other virtually blown away by the obvious which was in front of their eyes and ears-they had just found Quasimodo. We know the rest of the story of "Notre-Dame de Paris". Its debuts at the Palais des Congres in Paris in 1998 were followed by a tour of France. He even portrayed the role of Quasimodo in the English version given in London during the summer of 2000.

The turn of the century was also an extraordinary turning point in Garou's career who during his tour of NDP had shaken the hand of Rene Angelil, Celine Dion's producer and husband. Moreover, Celine had invited the young man to sing with her in Montreal for the New Year's Eve celebration in 1999. With their help Garou would then sign a contract with the prestigious record company Sony who proposed him to do a first solo album and an international tour. Celine even recorded a duo with him "Sous le vent" which we find on his album "Seul" which came out in November 2000. In fact this album which was recorded in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal assembled a bunch of celebrities among writers and composers from the one who cannot be ignored, Plamondon, to Romano Musumara, Richard Cocciante, Didier Barbelivien and Franck Langolff.

In reading between the lines of the interviews he has given to the French and Quebecois press, it turns out that this record is not what he had expected to do. Because even if the production is impeccable, this record which was meant for the international market doesn't give a full taste of Garou's personality. "Seul" suffers from not being a work of creation but rather a marketing operation on the planetary scale. A successful mission since it sold over a million copies.

Having already been on the French and Quebecois stages, Garou started off a tour in both regions with a stint at the Olympia in Paris for six concerts in April 2001. His success is immense. His popularity is at its peak. At 29, Garou is an artist who has all that he could wish for.

Then in July, his partner Ulrika, who used to be a model, gave birth to a baby daughter, but Garou is always very discreet about his private life.

Awards and Concerts

Between his French tour and his Quebec dates, the artist was grandly rewarded at the 23rd Adisq Gala (the Quebec version of the Brit Awards) where he carried off four important awards: Best Male Singer of the Year, Best Quebec Artist Outside Quebec, Best Box Office Album, and Best Pop-Rock Album.

On January 2002, Garou walked onto the stage of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes where he was probably the most prized artist of the day. He scooped up the NRJ Music Awards for Best Male Artist and his song with Celine Dion entitled "Sous le Vent" won the award for Best French-speaking duet. Even the his website-- garouonline.com --was awarded Best Musical Website of the year.

A few days later, performing on the Bercy stage in Paris, Garou was surprised by his friend Celine Dion, who joined him to perform "Sous le Vent". But this was not the only surprise of the evening and enthusiastic fans where also treated to a duet with Patrick Bruel-they sung Joe Dassin's hit "On s'est aimé comme on se quitte"-and another one with De Palmas.

Soon afterwards, a DVD entitled "Garou : live à Bercy" was released, featuring highlights from Garou's concert at the biggest music venue in Paris. The following year, Garou began work on his next album, which he had decided to write exclusively in French as a tribute to French-speaking fans. The album "Reviens", released on 6 May 2004, included contributions from many of the singer's long-term friends as well as more recent acquaintances. Songwriters Luc Plamondon, Romano Musumarra, Didier Barbelivien, Eric Lapointe, Stéphane Dufour, Roger Tabra, Gérald de Palmas and Erick Benzi collaborated with Garou on this new album which revolved around rhythmic rock ballads and omnipresent guitar. Sales of the album soon hovered around the 400,000 mark.

The charismatic Quebecois with the instantly identifiable voice went on to kick off a major international tour, playing dates across Canada and Europe and visiting countries he had never performed in before (such as Lebanon, Poland, Russia, Tunisia and La Réunion), receiving a warm welcome wherever he went. In November 2004, Garou recorded a duo with Michel Sardou, "La rivière de notre enfance" (which appeared on Sardou's album, "Du plaisir").

2006: "Garou"

In February 2005, Garou released a new DVD entitled "Routes", retracing highlights of his European tour. The rest of that year was largely devoted to writing material for his new album, "Garou", released on 12 June 2006. Pascal Obispo, Jacques Veneruso and Jean-Jacques Goldman were all involved in writing and composing songs for the album which, while it could not exactly be called original, still managed to rocket straight to the number 1 spot in the French album charts. The first single release, "L'Injustice", paid tribute to Patrick Dils, victim of a miscarriage of justice which left him serving a 15-year prison in a French jail. Patrick Dils put in a cameo appearance in the video clip for "L'Injustice."

Garou embarked on a summer tour of Quebec shortly after this release, kicking things off with an appearance at the Festival de la Gibelotte in Sorel-Tracy on 7 July 2006 where he played to an audience of 15,000. Garou went on to play at all the major Canadian music festivals that summer, winning impressive acclaim from the crowds wherever he went.

After finishing up with a final series of concerts in Quebec, Garou flew on to the French West Indies. He went on to play to fans in France (for a series of dates including four consecutive nights at the legendary Olympia, in Paris, in November 2006) and Belgium. Garou's tour finally came to an end in March 2007 after the singer had played to a capacity crowd at Le Zénith, in Paris (on 19 March). Later that same year, Garou provided guest vocals on a duet with French pop diva Lorie, appearing on her song "Play: Give me Love." The pair, who had met at an "Enfoirés" charity concert, had by this point made their relationship public.

2008: "Piece of my Soul"

Garou made a comeback on the recording scene in 2008 with "Piece of my Soul", the first album of his career to be recorded in English. The album was released in Quebec on 6 May and in France on 19 May on the Columbia label. Garou claimed the thirteen-track album was an attempt to get back to his musical roots, a sort of commemoration of the nights he had spent doing the rounds of local bars, singing in English. "Piece of my Soul", which proved to have much more of a rock vibe than his earlier albums, was the result of several acoustic recording sessions in Sweden, the U.S. and Canada which were subsequently re-arranged by a number of well-known producers including Guy Chambers (renowned for his work with Robbie Williams) and Peer Astrom (Madonna and Jennifer Lopez). Garou penned one of the thirteen songs on "Piece of my Soul" himself, writing the lyrics for "All the Way", a song about love and poker.

Garou hit the road again on 19 May 2008, presenting the songs from "Piece of my Soul" to the public. This time round, he played in smaller, more intimate venues than usual, dubbing his tour "Garou en live bar." Dates included an appearance at La Cigale, in Paris (20 May), a show in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev (3 June), a concert in Moscow (5 June) and another in Odessa, in the Ukraine (6 June).

Meanwhile, Garou left the production company run by Céline Dion's husband, René Angelil (whom he had collaborated with for many years). After an amicable separation, Garou branched out and set up his own production company called Wolfgang (a reference to one of his classical idols, Mozart). He now aims to produce records by other artists and develop his own burgeoning career as a film and TV actor.

Garou was back in 2009 with “Gentleman cambrioleur” (gentleman burglar), the name of his album of cover versions. Including "Dessous chics", "C'est comme ça", "I Love Paris" and "The Sound of Silence", and even a blues version of "Champs Elysées" by Joe Dassin, he chose to revamp twelve of his favourite songs, with help from the producer Philippe Paradis. The disk was as much of a flop as the previous one. The singer quickly returned to the recording studio and in the space of six months in 2010 he had a sixth album in the bag.
 
In the spring of 2010, Garou and Lorie split up.
 
"Version intégrale" came out on 29 November 2010. Produced under the guidance of Pascal Obispo, Calogero and Jean-Jacques Goldman, it was a 100% francophone creation. Its live edge highlighted Garou’s new “style”: a blend of blues, soul and rock that was a long way from the easy pop that his fans had got used to. The artist explained that all synthetic sounds had been banished from the studio to strike a truer, more authentic chord. The first single was "J'avais besoin d'être là".
 
August 2011

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