Julien Clerc Biography
The future French singing star was born as Paul-Alain Leclerc in Paris on October 4, 1947. His parents divorced when he was young, but he grew up listening to classical music in his father's home while his mother introduced him to the music of iconic French singers of the 20th Century such as Georges Brassens and Edith Piaf. He began to learn the piano at six and soon started to play by ear everything he heard on the radio.
During his high school and university days, he met Maurice Vallet and Etienne Roda-Gil, two of his main songwriters, and began to compose his first songs. He changed his name to Julien Clerc upon signing a contract with the record company, Pathé Marconi, and released his first album in the turbulent May of 1968.
Clerc's vibrato voice and neosymphonic music, coupled with the almost dreamlike lyrics written by Vallet and Roda-Gil, fitted in with that period of change. The songs were welcomed as a renaissance of the traditional French chanson with their harmonic style.
In 1969, Clerc went on the Olympia stage in Paris for the first time to open for a Gilbert Bécaud's concert. His performance was a great success and he returned repeatedly to the Olympia for concerts. From May 1969 to February 1970, he starred in the highly successful Paris run of the musical, "Hair."
By his mid-20s, he was a major star and continued to record hit after hit, many of which were popular overseas and translated into other languages. In the 1970s, he also took on various acting roles, but his film and TV work never detracted from his music.
In 1974, he was awarded five gold discs for the outstanding sales of his albums. Meanwhile, he evolved from a teen idol to a mature artist. In 1979, he took part in two new collaborative ventures, singing the title song of the children's musical, "Emilie Jolie," and contributing to "36 Front Populaire" - a double album.
Over the years, Clerc's repertoire has ranged from his own compositions to classic French songs by artists such as Brassens and Piaf. He has also performed around the world. In 1998, he toured through France and Europe and in June that year participated in the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup football tournament, which France won.
That same summer, he won the SACEM (Société des Auteurs Compositeurs) Grand Spring award for his song "Les Séparés." In January 1999, Clerc went on stage at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and delivered an unplugged acoustic set that was a long way from the rock/pop-based shows that he had been giving his audience for some years.
Clerc was also developing a growing interest in humanitarian work. In 2000, he joined other artists in benefit concerts for Restaurants du Coeur, a charity providing food to the needy in France, particularly during the winter. And he also started collaborating with UNHCR.
Always on the lookout for new talent, Clerc began associations with new songwriters including the top model and future First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, who was embarking on a musical career and wrote six songs for his 18th album. In 2003, Clerc recorded a new album of American classics in French.
In the same year, Clerc was inducted as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador at a ceremony in Paris. In March 2004, he undertook his first field mission, visiting Chad to meet with refugees and aid workers. His mission was documented by "Envoyé spécial" and was broadcast on French TV. Clerc made a second field mission in April 2005 to Cameroon, taking part in a repatriation convoy.
Clerc has made numerous media appearances in 2005 in support of his efforts to raise money from the private sector for refugees. He has also made several special video messages for World Refugee Day since 2005.
In 2006, Clerc took part in "Children of the Country" - a project to combat all forms of racism. The money obtained from the sale of this single was donated to the Insertion Football Fraternity.
In 2012, Clerc went on a highly-acclaimed concert tour with a symphonic orchestra of some 50 musicians. He interrupted his busy schedule to support UNHCR's efforts to raise public awareness of the plight of refugees and other uprooted people, thus reaffirming his strong commitment to their cause. During this period he recorded short public service announcements in which his warm and sympathetic delivery strikes a chord with viewers on the terrible dilemmas that refugees often face.