Nicole Croisille

Born : 09/10/1936 in Neuilly-sur-Seine (France)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Female Artist
Style of music : Chanson / Jazz

Nicole Croisille began her career as a dancer and mime artist, but went on to make her name as a singer, winning over audiences with her sultry vocals. With her feline looks and sophisticated elegance, Nicole Croisille has spent her career flying the flag for femininity, jazz, and even African rhythms on her album "Black et blanche".

Nicole Croisille began her career as a dancer and mime artist, but went on to make her name as a singer, winning over audiences with her sultry vocals. With her feline looks and sophisticated elegance, Nicole Croisille has spent her career flying the flag for femininity, jazz, and even African rhythms on her album "Black et blanche".

Born in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine on 9 October 1936, Nicole Croisille grew up the only child of a father who was the director of a travel agent's and a pianist mother. Nicole displayed a talent for the arts at an early age, showing an aptitude for dancing and singing. At eight years old, the young prodigy was already dancing classical ballet at the Opera.

However, Nicole's father was none too keen on his daughter's dream of making a career on the stage and he stopped her from taking the entrance exam for the prestigious ballet school at the Paris Opera. The young adolescent proceeded to take typing lessons, appearing to fall in with her father's idea of what would make a suitable career for her. But, meanwhile, Nicole devoted all her spare time to lessons at the Comédie Française, where she finally ended up winning a place in the ballet corps.

Music and Mime

Nicole later went on to perfect her stage talent, taking lessons with the world-famous mime artist Marcel Marceau. For more than ten years, Nicole studied under the white-faced maestro, eventually going off on a tour of South America with Marceau and his troupe in 1957. When she returned to France, Nicole took her first steps as a professional dancer, performing in the chorus line at Josephine Baker's reviews and as part of the classical ballet corps in the Bourgeois gentilhomme. Nicole was destined for greater things, however. She went on to land one of the lead roles in the French musical L’apprenti fakir, appearing on stage with Jean Marais. However, the show proved too avant-garde for the French public's tastes and the curtain came down on the musical after just a month.

Meanwhile, Nicole was also making something of a name for herself on the bohemian scene in Saint-Germain, performing in local jazz cellars as an amateur singer. It appears that the timbre of her voice went down particularly well with the audience. When Nicole visited the United States in 1960 with Marcel Marceau's mime troupe, she discovered the magical, smoke-filled ambience of Chicago's jazz clubs. As Nicole was perfectly bilingual, she ended up performing on stage a couple of nights with a group of black musicians, who dubbed her their "soul sister." The French 'chanteuse' was shocked by her first taste of racism, when she was told not to frequent the musicians outside the club.

From Halleluya to Chabadabada

Nicole's first recordings were released between 1961 and 1963, and consisted of five EP singles and an album. Nicole Croisille made a name for herself recording an adaptation of the Ray Charles classic Halleluya, I Love Her So and her own version of Nous les amoureux (a song with which Jean-Claude Pascal won first place at the Eurovision Song Contest). Nicole also made an impact on the live circuit, supporting the late great 'chanson' star Jacques Brel when he performed a month-long run at the Olympia, in Paris, in 1961. But at that time audiences were more interested in the rising 'yéyé' (French rock'n'roll) idols of the day. Nicole Croisille had not yet won her rightful place on the French music scene.

In 1964, Nicole made a second trip to the States, this time shining centre-stage as a review leader with the Folies-Bergères when they presented a show on Broadway. Nicole ended up staying in the States for a year and got the chance to work with the choreographer Lester Wilson and the composer Lalo Schiffrin.

When she returned to France, Nicole was introduced to leading French film director Claude Lelouch. Her encounter with Lelouch proved to be a major turning-point in her career. In 1966, Nicole went on to score a huge international hit with Chabadabada, the theme song she recorded as a duet with Pierre Barouh for Lelouch's film, Un homme et une femme. (The music for this infectiously catchy song was written by Francis Lai). Nicole would remain loyal to both director and composer over the following years, recording a host of other theme songs such as Vivre pour vivre and Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté.

In 1968, Nicole Croisille went on to score another famous chart hit, but this time under a pseudonym. As Tuesday Jackson, she recorded I’ll Never Leave You, the theme song to Marcel Carné's film, Les jeunes loups. But after this success, Nicole waved goodbye to Tuesday and resumed her own identity. The following year she went on to record another popular French ballad entitled Quand nous n’aurons que de la tendresse.

Post-Chabadabada

Nicole would have to wait until 1973, however, before establishing herself at the forefront of the French music scene with a made-to-measure repertoire which included material by leading songwriters and composers of the day, such as Pierre Delanoë, Claude Lemesle and Pierre Bachelet. Over the following years, the French public increasingly fell under the spell of the romantic ‘chanteuse’ who came to symbolise femininity and tenderness thanks to a string of hit ballads including Une femme avec toi, La Garonne, Téléphone-moi and Emma.

In September 1976, Ms. Croisille confirmed her status as late-blossoming star on the French music scene, bringing down the house at the famous Olympia music-hall in Paris. What’s more, she repeated her success at the same venue two years later. Fans also turned out in force to support her when she brought her new show to the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1981. Nicole also made another appearance on the silver screen, dancing as part of the ballet in Claude Lelouch’s film, Les Uns et les Autres (for which she also recorded the theme song). Nicole went on to spend 1983 in Quebec, performing a series of concerts in Montreal and recording a Franco-Quebecois album during her stay.

In 1985, Nicole performed a cover of Le Blues du businessman (a song from the hit musical Starmania) on a TV music show. The cover proved so popular with viewers that it was released as a single. Boosted by this new success, Ms. Croisille hit the road again, taking her new tour to the four corners of the world in 1986. When she finally returned to France, she went straight back into the recording studio to make Jazzille (an album which found her going back to one of her earliest musical passions and featured guest appearances by the likes of Didier Lockwood, Manu Dibango and Toots Thielemans).

Hello Nicole!

In 1988, Nicole won a standing ovation from jazz fans when she performed her new repertoire at the Bataclan in Paris and at 180 concerts in the French provinces. Two years later, she enriched her discography with a new album entitled Black et Blanche (Black and White). She presented a live version of the album at the Casino de Paris in 1991, appearing on stage in a highly colourful show, accompanied by a backing choir of 40 Senegalese singers.

In 1992, Nicole fulfilled one of her oldest dreams, when she brought the hit American musical Hello Dolly to the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Nicole played the lead, of course, belting out the Dolly classics in English, backed by an all-American troupe. Her performance was acclaimed by critics and musical fans alike. After appearing in a new Claude Lelouch film (Les Misérables) and returning to the theatre to star in the comedy Folle Amanda, Nicole went on to celebrate her 40th year in showbiz with a party at the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris in 1997.

The following year, Nicole Croisille made another trip to Quebec for the release of her album, Piano et Voix. The French ‘chanteuse’ proved to be one of the star attractions at the ‘Francofolies’ music festival in Montreal in 1998. Over the following years, Nicole made appearances in a number of TV series and surprised fans by returning to the stage to play the role of Jacqueline Maillan in Coup de soleil.

In 2001, Nicole was back in the music news with a Greatest Hits album (which included two special bonus tracks that had never been released before). The album spawned an acoustic show, Piano et Percussions, which she took to the stage shortly afterwards. Then, in 2002, Nicole returned to the live circuit with a new show entitled De vous à moi. This show, staged at the Théâtre de Dix Heures in Paris, revolved around members of the audience requesting all-time favourites and old hits. Nicole followed this up with an extensive national tour which continued right up until the end of 2003.

She was back playing to her fans in 2006 at the Théâtre de Dix Heures in a show devoted to Claude Nougaro: “Nougaro, le jazz et moi”. Nicole Croisille sang some of the legendary singer’s big hits, as well as numbers from her own repertoire and jazz classics. The creation (released on a disk of the same name at the end of 2006) was a success and toured outside Paris and at the capital’s Grand Rex on 3 February 2007.

In 2008, the singer recorded an album with a Brazilian flavour, “Bossa d’hiver”, with the Quebecois composer Daniel Mercure.

On 27 March 2008, she performed at the Casino de Paris singing her own hits and a selection of Nougaro numbers.

An album recorded in Quebec, entitled " Tu me manques", came out a little later.

The singer was plagued by health problems in 2009, including a knee operation linked to her past life as a dancer. The artist was forced to remain immobile for months.

As soon as she was able, she returned to the stage, acting in the play “Jalousie en Trois Mails” in spring 2010, followed by a new season of “The Vagina Monologues”.

On 15 December 2010, the French Minister for Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, bestowed her with the Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d'honneur.

In April 2011, she performed two Claude Nougaro evenings at the Petit Journal Montparnasse.

In the autumn of 2011, Nicole Croisille released a greatest hits collection, including a new number, "Infiniment d’amour". She was back on the Parisian stage at the Alhambra from 7 to 9 October with a show entitled "Simplement".

January 2012

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