Pascal Obispo

Born : 08/01/1965 in Bergerac (France)
Country : France
Language : French
Category : Composer / Male Artist / Songwriter
Style of music : Chanson

Singer, songwriter and composer Pascal Obispo - the smiley, shaven-headed star who has become a firm favourite with French music fans - likes to keep a relatively low media profile. However, the singer enjoys dabbling in French show-biz circles every now and then, hanging out with his "good mates" Zazie and Florent Pagny. Obispo's life is not all glitz and glamour though. Indeed, he has proved himself to be a staunch defender of worthy causes, performing fund-raising concerts for AIDS sufferers and charities such as "Les Restos du coeur". The multi-talented performer recently added a new string to his bow too, penning his own stage musical about The Ten Commandments! Take it from us, whatever activity this musical Midas touches on generally turns to gold!

Singer, songwriter and composer Pascal Obispo - the smiley, shaven-headed star who has become a firm favourite with French music fans - likes to keep a relatively low media profile. However, the singer enjoys dabbling in French show-biz circles every now and then, hanging out with his "good mates" Zazie and Florent Pagny. Obispo's life is not all glitz and glamour though. Indeed, he has proved himself to be a staunch defender of worthy causes, performing fund-raising concerts for AIDS sufferers and charities such as "Les Restos du coeur". The multi-talented performer recently added a new string to his bow too, penning his own stage musical about The Ten Commandments! Take it from us, whatever activity this musical Midas touches on generally turns to gold!

Pascal Obispo was born on 8 January 1965 in Bergerac in the South West of France. The son of a football star (his father used to play for the Girondins team in Bordeaux), young Pascal had originally dreamed of becoming a basketball player. But when in 1978 he moved to Rennes with his mother, he discovered a new passion in life: music.

In the early 80's Rennes had a thriving music scene and the town even produced its own annual festival, the famous Transmusicales. This hotbed of music talent soon spawned a whole host of French new wave pop stars such as Etienne Daho and the group Niagara.

Growing up in this highly creative atmosphere it was not long before the young Pascal formed his own group, Senzo, in 1988, teaming up with Franck Darcel (who had made his name with the Breton group Marquis de Sade).

Obispo went on to record a first single which soon earnt him a recording contract with Epic (an offshoot of the Sony label). In 1992 the up-and-coming star went into the studio to work on his début album, "Plus que tout au monde". Produced by Nick Patrick (renowned for his work with the Gipsy Kings, Bashung, Alain Souchon etc), this album was an instant hit with the French public, the title track proving extremely popular with all the main radio stations.

Following this enormous success, Obispo embarked upon a series of extensive tours, playing numerous dates across France between September and December 93. At the end of the year the singer performed his first Paris gig, appearing at the now-defunct Passage du Nord Ouest.

Pascal Obispo's recording career continued to go from strength to strength, his singles "Tu vas me manquer" and "La moitié de moi" rocketing straight to the top of the French charts and remaining in prime positions for several months.

"Zen"

Obispo returned to the studio in 1994 to record his second album entitled "Un jour comme aujourd'hui". Released in October of that year, the album continued in the same catchy pop vein as Obispo's début and, not surprisingly, proved just as great a hit. Following the release of the album, Obispo promptly embarked upon another tour (which kicked off in February 95 and continued through March of that year). This tour included performances in over 60 French lycées, where the singer proved extremely popular in music lessons.

Between September and December 95 Obispo continued his hectic touring schedule, performing a series of concerts across France and then embarking upon an international tour. One of the highlights of this particular tour was the singer's impressive concert at La Cigale in Paris on 15 November. That same year Obispo would also reveal his songwriting talent, penning the hit single "Zen" for his close friend Zazie

At the start of 1996 Obispo was back on the road again, supporting Quebecois star Céline Dion on her French tour. This tour included 4 dates at Bercy Stadium (the largest concert venue in Paris) where Obispo performed in front of capacity crowds.

When this mammoth tour (which included 40 dates) was finally over Obispo returned to the studio to set to work on his third album, "Superflu". Released on 29 October 1996, this album spawned two hit singles "Personne" and the best-selling smash "Lucie" (which sold a staggering 80,000 copies in just one month) and went on to become a kind of anthem on the promotional tour which followed.

By February 1997 the album "Superflu" had proved a phenomenal hit, selling over 300,000 copies. Following this success Obispo was invited to perform at the legendary Olympia in Paris, where he performed six sell-out concerts. The singer then went on to appear at the Zénith on 21 May, 4,000 fans greeting his performance with rapturous applause.

Obispo, who had by this point established himself as one of the most popular figures on the French music scene, was invited to perform at the famous Francofolies festival in La Rochelle on Bastille Day (14 July 1997).

At one of his most recent concerts, in Ajaccio on 28 July 1997, Obispo and one of his backing group were hit by a shower of buckshot fired from a gun in the audience. Extremely shaken but not seriously injured, the pair were nevertheless taken to a nearby hospital where they were discharged within 24 hours. Obispo fans breathed a huge sigh of relief - losing such a talented singer/songwriter at the height of his career would have left a huge void at the heart of the contemporary French music scene.

1997 would prove to be an extremely eventful year for Obispo, for later that year the young star's songwriting talents were much in demand. Indeed, Obispo went on to work with two of France's top music stars, Florent Pagny and Johnny Hallyday. Obispo would pen several tracks on Florent Pagny's new album, including the best-selling single "Savoir aimer" which rocketed to the top of the French charts in the autumn of 97. The young songwriter was then invited to write an entire album for the French megastar Johnny Hallyday. Obispo's excellent work on both albums established him as one of the most sought-after songwriter/composers on the French music scene.

Sadly Obispo's professional success was not echoed at this year's Victoires de la Musique awards (held in Paris in February). In spite of being nominated for three major awards, Obispo walked off empty-handed from the prestigious French award ceremony once again. Obispo's only comfort this year was that Florent Pagny scooped Best Male Artist of the Year and received the Best Video award for the top selling single "Savoir aimer".

Ubiquitous

Obispo may not have triumphed at the Victoires de la Musique awards, but his recent record sales have certainly proved that his fans have not deserted him. Indeed, Obispo's latest album "Superflu" recently topped the million mark, earning Monsieur Obispo a coveted diamond disc. Recently the SACEM (the French association of songwriters and composers) awarded Obispo the Prix Vincent Scotto for Florent Pagny's best-selling single "Savoir aimer".

Confirming his status as one of France's most hyperactive artists, Obispo was back in the music news in '98, masterminding a compilation album to raise funds for AIDS charities. "Ensemble" turned out to be a highly original album featuring an interesting and extensive mix of French music stars. The album proved to be a big hit with the French public, selling around 700,000 copies.

Obispo turned his attention to songwriting and producing in 1999, composing several songs for Patricia Kaas's new album "le Mot de passe" and producing nine tracks on Florent Pagny's album "Récréation" (an innovative work featuring covers of French chanson classics reworked with techno-style dance beats).

Besides continuing his fund-raising work with Restos du Cœur and Sol en Si, Obispo somehow found time to begin work on a new album entitled "Soledad". Released in December '99, Obispo's new album - as the title "Soledad" (Solitude) suggests - revolves around the theme of loneliness. Obispo wrote the majority of the songs on the album himself (penning more songs on one album than ever before) but he also called on the services of Etienne Roda Gil ("Ce qu'on voit, allée Rimbaud"), Serge Guirao ("l'Important c'est d'aimer") and Lionel Florence who penned the Spanish-sounding title track "Soledad", chosen as the first single release.

Being too busy, Pascal Obispo decided to postpone his "Soledad" tour until 2001. Indeed for the French star, the millennium goes off to a flying start with a very tight timetable. Amongst other things, the artist took on the penning of the musical, Les Dix Commandements that Elie Chouraqui, the famous film director, was going to direct. The hype around the show kicked off in spring with a flourish of trumpets, although it was not scheduled before autumn-winter 2000-2001. That season also saw the revival of the 'musical' in France, a revival certainly inspired by the recent triumph of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Despite so much activity, the singer managed to find some time for his private life and on April the 4th he married his girlfriend Isabelle Funaro. The celebration was attended by a host of their friends, Zazie was of course one of their guests of honour.

The couple had got engaged in Tahiti on New Year's Eve.

Triumph

Then, for Obispo the summer of 2000 rhymed with the rehearsals of The Ten Commandments. Even before the first performances, its single "L'envie d'aimer" ("Lust for love") hit the million sales, raising very high expectations for the show itself. Those weren't dashed by the performances which, as soon as the opening night on the 4th of October, took place before a full house. On the evening of the dress rehearsal (12.10.00), Pascal Obispo became the father of a young boy called Sean.

At the climax of his professional career and quite happy in his private life as well, Obispo eventually hit the road for a tour across France that he began with a few days at the Zenith in Paris (November 17th-22th). He also recorded the song "Christmas Together" for the association Ensemble contre le sida (Together Against Aids). It will be the leading title of the association's collective Christmas album. Pascal Obispo is one of this association's most active members.

In 2001, the singer was presented with the NRJ Music Award for Best singer—a likely yet unexpected reward for an artist who had always been ignored by the Victoires de la Musique (the French equivalent of the Brit Awards). Following the award, Obispo went back on the road to resume his tour. Then in November, he brought out a live album entitled "Millesime". Among the fourteen tracks on the album, one had been yet unreleased. A very personal song , it deals with the theme of fatherhood, mirroring the artist’s private life.

In July 2002, Obispo took part in the charity concert for the Restaurants du Coeur given by the Enfoirés in Marseilles. Then he went back to the studio to work on a benefit title that is to be sung by the French football team to collect funds for the fight against AIDS. The Senegalese artist Youssou N’Dour, who is a big fan of football, is expected to sing the chorus, accompanying the French football players.

Fan

The press has often remarked on the influence of Michel Polnareff on Pascal Obispo, so it was no surprise when the latter decided to pay homage to former in the form of a concert tour. Obispo undertook a sixty-date tour across France from October 2003 to August 2004, with several stopovers in Paris (November 18-19, then December 18-20, 2003 at the Zénith, followed by Bercy on January 27, 2004. He put on a real show with the first half entirely devoted to Polnareff songs. In the second half he sang a number of cherished covers as well as new songs such as the aptly titled "Fan". The tour was a homage to all the artists who had inspired him when he was younger, from Téléphone to Queen and Madonna. This mammoth tour attracted some 300,000 people and received a Victoires de la Musique award in February 2004 for the best show of the year.

A double album entitled "live fan/studio fan" came out on March 15, featuring the singles "Fan", "Zinedine" and "La prétention de rien" – three new and original tracks.

Sales of this double album went on to top the 500,000 mark.

2006: "Les fleurs du bien"

After having produced a new album for Natasha Saint Pier, Obispo went back into the studio on his own account. And in May 2006 he released a new 12-track album entitled "Les fleurs du bien." This highly personal work included themes close to the singer’s own heart such as the song "Noir", an account of the recent break-up of his own relationship. Obispo also paid tribute to his musical idols: Léo Ferré ("Sur la voie Ferré") and Etienne Roda-Gil ("Libre comme Picasso"). As for "Rosa", the first single release from the album, this hardhitting song tackled the thorny issue of racism. Musically speaking, Obispo’s sound continued to oscillate between ‘variété’ and rock - a mix that scored a big hit with his fans but was derided by a certain sector of music critics.

Obispo hit the road again in January 2007, playing some fifty dates across France and Belgium. This tour included sell-out gigs at Le Forest National, in Brussels (9 - 11 March) and at Le Zénith, in Paris (13 - 17 March).

In 2008, there were more articles written on  Pascal Obispo in the tabloids than in the music press, thanks to his relationship with chanteuse Jenifer. Their initial encounter, as well as their break-up a year later were splashed about the media, to the point where one day Pascal Obispo lost his temper and hit a photographer, in order to protect his erstwhile girlfriend.

Throughout 2009, Pascal Obispo provoked the curiosity of his fans by creating the persona of Captain Samouraï Flower, a “green” superhero, and ideal double behind which he hid his new project. The album  "Welcome to the Magic World of Captain Samourai Flower" was released on 12 October 2009. A little more rock oriented, and also more nervy than his previous album, it wavered somewhere between sophisticated pop and romantic balladry. The first single was entitled "Le Drapeau" (the flag).

Obispo went on tour in February 2010, draped in his new superhero costume. The minutely-executed show included a cartoon about Captain Samouraï Flower’s odyssey to protect the plant, which was shown before each concert. The singer performed at the Olympia in Paris from 29-31 March 2010. 

Although his concerts drew in the fans, the new character seemed to unnerve the public, and the album wasn’t as successful as anticipated.

In 2011, the artist moved back into the world of musicals, producing "Adam et Eve, la seconde chance", which he also wrote, composed and directed. Thierry Amiel and the singer Cylia played the main roles in performances at the Palais des Sports in Paris, from 31 January to 25 March 2012. The adventure ended on a sour note for the troupe when the French tour scheduled for September was cancelled for what the production company described as “financial reasons”.

2013: "MillésimeS"

Following these mixed results, 2013 started off on a more promising note. Gathering his biggest hits, Obispo published his first ever compilation looking back over twenty years in the trade. Entitled “MillésimeS”, a reference to vintage champagne, it included all the popular favourites, like "Plus que tout au monde", "Fan", "Lucie" and "Tombé pour elle", along with some rare duets in the shape of "Les Mots bleus" with Christophe and "So Many Men" with Youssou N'Dour. The tour that followed was a sell-out.

Released at the end of the year, his new album, "Le Grand amour", was launched by the single "D'un Ave Maria". To put the collection together, Obispo worked with the craftsmen of his early hits, like Lionel Florence on lyrics along with Didier Golemanas and Pierre Grillet, and Pierre Jaconelli as co-producer.

February 2014 

 

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