Louis Chédid

Born : 1 /1 /1948 in Ismailia (Egypt)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Composer / Male Artist / Songwriter
Style of music : Chanson

Louis Chédid struggled long and hard to achieve recognition on the French music scene - indeed, the singer had to put out 7 albums before he finally hit the big time in 1978! Since then, Chédid has more than made up for his late start, however, and today the singer's incisive lyrics and musical talent make him one of the most respected figures in the French music world. Chédid has been hailed as a modest contemporary 'poet' whose hard-hitting, and often humorous, lyrics describe the troubles of modern-day society.

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  • Louis Chédid struggled long and hard to achieve recognition on the French music scene - indeed, the singer had to put out 7 albums before he finally hit the big time in 1978! Since then, Chédid has more than made up for his late start, however, and today the singer's incisive lyrics and musical talent make him one of the most respected figures in the French music world. Chédid has been hailed as a modest contemporary 'poet' whose hard-hitting, and often humorous, lyrics describe the troubles of modern-day society.

    Louis Chédid was born in Egypt, in Ismailia (a town which lies on the banks of the Suez Canal) on 1 January 1948. Louis's parents left their homeland just a couple of years after their son's birth, however, so the young boy was raised in Paris not Egypt. Louis spent a happy childhood in Paris, growing up in a highly stimulating home environment - his mother, Andrée, a French woman who was brought up in the Middle East, is a writer; his father, Louis, a scientist and practising doctor.

    Louis was sent to a local religious school and he soon went on to join the well-known children's choir, Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois. Passionate about music from an early age, the talented youngster began composing music and writing songs in his teens. Louis's parents actively encouraged their son in his new hobby, indeed Louis's mother, Andrée, even contributed lyrics to several of his early songs. In spite of Louis's obvious musical talent, however, his studies would eventually take him in a different direction altogether. After passing his 'baccalauréat' in 1968, Louis would leave Paris to study film in Belgium. When he graduated from film school, he went on to work as a film editor for a while, then stepped behind the camera to begin shooting his own short films.

    Humble Beginnings

    Despite his success in the film world, however, Louis soon chose to return to his first love, music. And in 1973 he went into the studio to record his début album, modestly entitled "Balbutiements" (Humble Beginnings). Yet Louis's music career failed to take off immediately. Indeed, the young singer would have to struggle for several years before gaining any kind of recognition on the French music scene. But Louis persevered, returning to the studio in 1975 to record a second album which included a song called "Hold up". (Ironically enough, Louis's new version of "Hold up", recorded more than ten years later, would score a major hit with the French public and the "Hold up" video would also cause a huge stir in the music world). But for the time being Louis Chédid's second album failed to make any major impact on the French music scene and, after completing the album, Louis went back to earning his living by writing music for television ads.

    Louis was determined to make a success of his singing career, however, and in 1976 he began writing material for his third album. Louis's third album, released later that same year, fared scarcely better than his previous ones, but two years later his single "T'as beau pas être beau" scored a surprise hit with the French public. The song, which featured backing vocals by Louis's children Matthieu and Emilie, rocketed the singer into the French charts for the first time, launching his singing career in earnest. ("T'as beau pas être beau" remains one of Louis Chédid's most popular songs to date).

    Lights, Camera… and, finally, Action !

    Following the success of "T'as beau pas être beau", Louis Chédid's career went from strength to strength with the release of his new album "Ainsi soit-il" in 1981. The album rocketed straight to the n°1 spot in the French charts, largely thanks to the phenomenal success of the title track "Ainsi soit-il" (a tribute to Louis's ongoing love affair with the cinema). This time round Chédid's style proved a huge hit with the French public and when the singer performed at the prestigious Olympia in Paris in 1982, he literally brought the house down. Following his triumph at the Olympia Chédid embarked upon an extensive national tour, gaining a huge following of fans across the country.

    Chédid's success might have come rather late in his career, but critics and fans alike considered it to be well-deserved. His lyrics, which managed to combine tenderness with subtle humour were always extremely well-crafted and set to superb music. And Chédid was not afraid of tackling social and political issues in a more hard-hitting style. Indeed, in the course of his various albums Louis Chédid tackled everything from the troubles in Haiti ("Coupe coupe tonton macoute") to capitalism ("Pouvoirs, pouvoirs") and the evils of television ("Zap Zap"). The singer also dealt sensitively with the problem of AIDS, urging youngsters to use a condom in his song "N'oublie pas la capote". Meanwhile "Le gros blond" sounded the alarm to fascism, alerting public opinion to the rise of the far-right in France.

    Chédid returned to the studio in 1983 to begin work on a new album, entitled "Panique organisée". This album, which confirmed Chédid as one of the most talented and popular artists on the French music scene, included a number of outstanding tracks. "Pouvoirs pouvoirs" (Power power), "Le tcha tcha de l'insécurité" and "Les absents ont toujours tort" (Those who are absent are always wrong). In typical Chédid style, these songs fused sensitivity and black humour to raise a host of serious issues.

    Chédid returned to the studio in 1984 to record a new version of "Hold up" (a track from his second album released in 1975). Released as a single the second time round, "Hold up" was accompanied by a remarkable video starring French actor Claude Brasseur and the famous French singer/actor Alain Souchon. Chédid would return Souchon's favour later that same year, co-writing two songs on Souchon's album "On avance". He would also pen several songs on Souchon's 1985 album "C'est comme vous voulez".

    Chédid then turned his attention to his own career, returning to the studio later that year to begin work on a brand new album entitled "Anne ma sœur Anne". The album, released in June 1985, had the familiar Chédid touch, combining sensitive, tender ballads with hard-hitting songs about social issues. But the most memorable song on Chédid's new album was the title track "Anne ma sœur Anne" - a song which paid tribute to the heroism of the famous diarist Anne Frank (a young Jewish girl who was betrayed to the Nazis during World War II and ended up dying in Belsen). The song, which Chédid has always cited as one of his personal favourites, expressed his alarm at the rise of the far right in France in the late 80's/early 90's. Chédid would return to this theme again on his 1988 album "Bizar" - the fascist referred to in his song "Le gros blond" is a thinly veiled reference to Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of France's Front National.

    Chédid, who appeared to record his albums with the regularity of a metronome, released a new album "Zap" in January 1990. He then returned to the live circuit, performing ten concerts in Paris at La Cigale in March of that year, then embarking on another major tour in the autumn.

    A New Direction

    In the early 90's Chédid, who had just turned 44, took his writing talent in a new direction, beginning work on a short collection of texts entitled "40 berges blues" (40 Blue Years). His book, published in January 1992, was generally well-received. In October of that same year Chédid was back in the media spotlight once again, with the release of a brand new album, "Ces mots sont pour toi" (These Words Are For You). A collection of essays and song lyrics was published at the same time under the title "Ces mots sont pour toi". Both the book and the album revealed a new side to Chédid - a Chédid who was less concerned with social and political issues and more interested in exploring his own personal universe.

    The book and the album of "Ces mots sont pour toi" were rather sad and anguished in tone. But Chédid could not stop a hint of redemptive humour creeping into his personal philosophy and the songs "Youpi" and "C'est pas la nuit de l'amour" were full of wonderful black humour and irony. Meanwhile the track "Bleu blanc rouge" (Red, White and Blue) returned to one of Chédid's old concerns, evoking the threat of neo-fascism.

    When it came to recording his new album "Ces mots sont pour toi", Chédid left the Paris music scene and sought peace and quiet in Loumarin, a tiny village in the South of France. Chédid was joined in the recording studio by a host of top musicians including French jazz stars Christian Escoudé and Didier Lockwood. Louis Chédid's son Matthieu also played guitar on his father's album. "Ces mots sont pour toi" represented a subtle change of musical direction for Chédid, who decided to stop using synthesisers and return to a more mellow, acoustic orchestration.

    1993 proved to be another busy year for Chédid. After performing a series of concerts at the Casino de Paris, the singer went on to record a live album in Paris at Le Bobino in November of that year. "Entre nous" (Just Between Us) was recorded at a special one-off concert which featured an entirely acoustic line-up of musicians. (Chédid was joined on stage by a group of 15 musicians, including 10 string players). Following the release of his live album "Entre nous" in March 94, Chédid embarked on a major national tour with his new group of 15 musicians. One of the highlights of Chédid's 94 tour was a performance at the prestigious Printemps de Bourges Festival (22 April 1994).

    Time To Pause

    Taking a break from his hectic rhythm of recording a new album every two years, Chédid decided to take things easy after his 94 tour. Indeed he engineered a break of five years between his last studio album "Ces mots sont pour toi" and his new opus "Répondez-moi", which was released on 14 April 1997. This new album was vintage Chédid, the singer fusing angst and humour in his inimitable style, while touching on essential humanist issues.

    On 14 July 1997 Chédid was invited to the Francofolies festival in La Rochelle as a special guest of honour. Then, after a week of concerts at the Théâtre Dejazet in Paris, Chédid embarked upon another extensive tour in October 97, performing dates right through until March of the following year.

    While his son, Matthieu (better known to French music fans as M), has been busy making a name for himself as one of France's most creative pop stars, Louis Chédid has disappeared from the French music scene in recent years. In fact, he makes only rare concert appearances these days (one of his most recent sightings being in Dijon in June '99).

    However, after quitting his record label Mercury/Universal in the autumn of 2000 and signing a new deal with Atmospheriques, Louis Chédid is now planning to make a comeback with a new album.

    2001: "Bouc bel Air"

    After a four-year silence on the recording front, Louis Chédid made a major comeback on April 18th 2001 with a new album entitled "Bouc Bel Air". Named after a village in the south of France where the singer spent his childhood holidays, "Bouc Bel Air" fused nostalgia and childhood memories with serenity and joie de vivre. All of the tracks on the new album were recorded in the singer's home studio with the collaboration of numerous guest stars including French electro king Alex Gopher and Youssou N'Dour's backing band.

    Louis's son, Mathieu – better known to music fans as alternative French pop star M – also guested on his father's album, playing guitar on two songs, "Mon moi et moi" and "Combien". In the series of interviews Chédid senior gave to the French media just after the release of this new album, he expressed his pride at seeing his son follow in his own musical footsteps.

    The "Bouc Bel Air" tour proved to be a great success. And in 2003, "Botanique et vieilles charrues", a double live CD and DVD were released. These were recorded at the "Vieilles Charrues" Festival (an annual event organised in Carhaix, Brittany) and at a concert Chedid performed at Le Cirque Royal in Brussels. Both the album and the DVD bore witness to Chedid's special charisma on stage and his exceptional ability in manipulating words and music. The audience's loud and enthusiastic response was also much in evidence on the recordings.

    An angel passing

    Boosted by the success of his tour and subsequent live album, Louis Chedid headed back into the studio to record a new album, "Un ange passe." Released in 2004, the album featured 14 joyous, upbeat songs, although Chedid also took the opportunity to make a few pointed statements about the state of the planet. (In one of his songs he stated that "If Mother Nature's up in revolt, it's because we've given her too hard a time of late.") Chedid was accompanied by a talented young acoustic backing band on his new album which included the Muller brothers (former members of the group Aston Villa), Antoine Dijo and Martin Gamet. Frank Redlich, renowned for his production work with Serge Gainsbourg and Tarmac, was at the studio controls.

    Chedid hit the road again for a new round of concerts on 6 April 2004, kicking things off with several dates at the Café de la Danse in Paris.

    In December 2004, Chédid hooked up with the renowned French songwriter Pierre-Dominique Burgaud and asked him to get involved in a joint project, creating a musical tale aimed at children and "adults who have never really grown up." (Since playing the role of the raccoon in Philippe Chatel's famous children's musical "Emilie Jolie", Chédid had apparently dreamt of inventing his own children's fantasy). Over the next nine months, Burgaud and Chédid put their heads together imagining the adventures of the Soldat Rose (Pink soldier). The story revolved around a little boy who, disillusioned by the adult world, waited until night came then hid himself in the toy section of a big department store.

    "Le Soldat Rose", a project for which Louis Chédid wrote the music and Pierre-Dominique Burgaud penned the lyrics, resulted in a 14-track album released on the Atmosphériques label in 2006. The album featured an all-star cast including Louis Chédid's son M, Jeanne Cherhal, Alain Souchon, Francis Cabrel, Vanessa Paradis and Sanseverino. And this celebrity line-up took to the stage together for two shows at Le Grand Rex, in Paris, in November 2006. The show, in which each of the singers brought a different toy in the toy shop to life, proved to be a huge hit, its imaginative decor and colourful costumes delighting adults and children alike. A DVD of the show was subsequently released in February 2007. By April of that year sales of the album version of "Le Soldat Rose" topped 350,000 and the album went on to win Best Chanson/Variétés Album at that year's 'Victoires de la musique' awards.

    Meanwhile, Louis Chédid was also busy penning the lyrics for "La vie", a song he contributed to Michel Fugain's new album "Bravo & Merci" (released on 25 February 2007). In June 2007, Chédid began working on a new version of "Le Soldat Rose." 

    “Le Soldat Rose” was adapted into a musical, closely overseen by Louis Chédid, who handed the direction to his comedian friends Shirley and Dino. Even without its original star cast, the show was a huge hit, and the new troupe embarked on a string of performances from 2007.
    2010: "On ne dit jamais assez aux gens qu'on aime qu'on les aime".
    In 2009, Louis Chédid did the mixing of “Mister Mystère”, the new album by his son Matthieu, who had asked him to pare down his songs to bring out his voice more. In 2010, it was M’s turn to give his father a hand on his new album. Louis came up with the lyrics and tunes, and Matthieu advised him on the sound, choice of instrument and interpretation. For ten days, father and son shut themselves up in the studio, played all the instruments and had great fun recording the album together. It was released on 29 November 2010 with the long but catchy title, “On ne dit jamais assez aux gens qu'on aime qu'on les aime” – you never say enough to the people you love that you love them.
    Louis Chédid devised the album as a declaration of love to those he cares about (friends and family, whose faces illustrate the cover). The song “Maman Maman” is a delicate, string-laden tribute to his mother Andrée Chédid, who died in February 2011 at the age of 91, and “Tu peux compter sur moi” resonates with the joyful promise of friendship.
    The singer presented this intimate and personal collection at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris on 13 December 2010, then set off on tour in January 2011. On 28 May, he was back at Chatelet for a one-off concert.
    At the same time, he worked on a 3D cartoon of “Le Soldat Rose” with the producer of “March of the Penguins”, Yves Darondeau.
    May 2011

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