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Famous French Singers of All Time

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Famous French Singers
10 Jun, 2024

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In the realm of music, France boasts a rich and diverse history that has birthed some of the most renowned and influential artists of all time. French singers have left an indelible mark on the global music scene, from the timeless classics to the modern beats.

If you’re a fan of French songs and eager to explore the illustrious careers of famous French singers, you’re in luck. We’ve curated a comprehensive list showcasing the stars of French singing, where you can delve into the lives, careers, and contributions of each of these iconic figures. So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the enchanting world of French music.

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10 Famous French Singers

1: Jean-Jacques Goldman

Jean-Jacques Goldman
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Date of birth: October 11, 1951, Paris, France

Best works:

  • Entre gris clair et gris foncé
  • En passant
  • Chansons pour les pieds

Jean-Jacques Goldman is a revered figure in the French music industry. Being a singer-songwriter and record producer, his work remains hugely popular in the French-speaking world.

Goldman first entered the French music scene as a member of a rock group named Taï Phong. Following three albums in English, he pivoted towards French music, ultimately departing from the band to pursue a solo career.

After a successful solo career in the 1980s, he joined the trio Fredericks Goldman Jones and released another string of hits in the 1990s. His collaborations with musicians such as Patricia Kaas, Garou, and Céline Dion underscore his versatility and influence within the music industry.

Furthermore, he received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1997 as a co-author of three tracks on Céline Dion “Falling into You.” Although Goldman took a voluntary retirement in the early 2000s, he remains highly appreciated and one of the most famous French singers.

2: Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel
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Date of birth: April 8, 1929, Schaerbeek, Brussels

Date of death: October 9, 1978, Bobigny, near Paris, France

Best works:

  • Ne me quitte pas
  • Amsterdam
  • Les Vieux

Jacques Brel, a Belgian singer, songwriter, and actor, is considered a master of the modern chanson. He began playing the guitar when he was 15. After a short military career, he began writing songs and performing them at gatherings and Brussels cabarets.

Brel’s trajectory ascended when he relocated to Paris, where he achieved breakthrough success with the title song “Quand on n’a que l’amour” (1957; “If We Only Have Love”). In 1967, Jacques Brel retired from touring and performing, but he continued to write and record music.

3: Édith Piaf

Édith Piaf
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Date of birth: December 19, 1915, Paris, France

Date of death: October 10, 1963, Plascassier, near Grasse

Best works:

  • La Vie en rose
  • Non, je ne regrette rien
  • Hymne à l’amour
  • Milord

Édith Giovanna Gassion, or simply Édith Piaf, was a French singer who made marks in the music industry by performing songs in the cabaret and modern chanson genres. She was widely hailed as one of the greatest famous French singers and most celebrated performers of the 20th century.

Piaf’s musical journey began on the streets of Paris. By the age of 14, she embarked on her career touring Europe, the United States, and South America. Known for her poignant and autobiographical lyrics, Piaf’s work often centered on themes of love, loss, and sorrow, exemplified in her mastery of chanson réaliste and torch ballads.

4: Mylène Farmer

Mylene Farmer
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Date of birth: September 12, 1961, Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada

Best works:

  • Interstellaires
  • Désobéissance
  • L’Emprise

Mylène Farmer’s real name is Mylène Jeanne Gautier. She is a renowned French singer and songwriter who made a mark by selling 30 million records globally. With eight back-to-back hits, she holds the record for the most #1 hit singles in the French charts.

In 1984, Farmer embarked on her music journey alongside her friend Boutonnat, who also became the creative force behind her music videos. That same year, she recorded and released “Maman a tort.”

Farmer’s music is characterized by a fusion of pop, rock, and electronic elements, often accompanied by introspective and haunting lyrics. She is also an eight-time NRJ Music Awards winner, making her place one of the most famous French singers of all time.

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5: Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour
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Date of birth: May 22, 1924, Paris, France

Date of death: October 1, 2018, Mouriès, France

Best works:

  • La Boheme
  • Emmenez moi
  • Venecia Sin Ti

Charles Aznavour was a French-Armenian singer fondly dubbed France’s Frank Sinatra. In a career spanning over seventy years, he recorded more than 1,200 songs and wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 compositions for himself and others.

He was renowned for his unique vibrato tenor voice. In addition to his musical accomplishments, Aznavour enjoyed a successful acting career, starring in notable films such as “The Tin Drum” and the timeless classic “Tirez Sur le Pianiste” (Shoot the Piano Player).

6: Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg
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Date of birth: April 2, 1928, Paris, France

Date of death: March 2, 1991, Paris, France

Best works:

  • L’Homme à tête de chou
  • Aux armes et cætera
  • Mauvaises nouvelles des étoiles

Serge Gainsbourg, born Lucien Ginsburg, was a French singer-songwriter, actor, composer, and director. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures in French pop music.

Over his expansive 30-plus year career in recording, Gainsbourg moved from modern jazz sounds to explorations of African highlife, Afro-Cuban dance orchestras, French Antillean zouk, compass rhythms, and even Jamaican reggae. He wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered over 1,000 times by diverse artists.

7: Françoise Hardy

Françoise Hardy
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Date of birth: January 17, 1944, Paris, France

Best works:

  • La pluie sans parapluie
  • L’amour fou
  • Personne d’autre

Françoise Madeleine Hardy is a retired French singer-songwriter and actress. She is primarily known for singing melancholic sentimental ballads and emerged as a leading figure of the yé-yé movement in the early 1960s.

Her career commenced in the early 1960s when she was barely out of her teens. Her debut album, “Tous les garçons et les filles”, was released in 1962 and catapulted her into instant fame. She wrote her songs, a rarity among female artists then, infusing them with a poetic sensibility that became her trademark.

Hardy’s career spanned over five decades, with over 30 studio albums released. Her unique blend of pop, folk, and chanson music has garnered her international acclaim, solidifying her status as one of the most renowned French singers in the music industry.

8: Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot
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Date of birth: September 28, 1934, Paris, France

Best works:

  • Invitango
  • Les amis de la musique
  • À la fin de l’été

Brigitte Bardot, aka Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot, is a French model, actress, and singer. During the 1960s, she embarked on a career as a musical artist, releasing albums like “Brigitte Bardot Sings” (1960) and “Special Bardot” (1968).

Collaborating with renowned French vocalist and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, Bardot recorded several hits that blended elements of beat, jazz, pop, and orchestral music.

Her playful vocals, combined with a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility infused into traditional French music, cemented Bardot’s status as a notable figure in the music realm of her era.

9: Johnny Hallyday

Johnny Hallyday
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Date of birth: June 15, 1943, Paris, France

Date of death: December 5, 2017, Marnes-la-Coquette, France

Best works:

  • Laisse les Filles
  • Le pénitencier
  • Je te promets

Johnny Hallyday, born Jean-Philippe Léo Smet, was a towering figure in French rock-n-roll, pop singer, and actor. He is applauded for bringing rock and roll to France and is thus ranked among the most famous French singers.

His breakthrough in late 1959 with an appearance on the Paris Cocktail television show led to a record contract with Vogue. Hallyday’s career spanned over five decades, and he released 79 albums. After selling more than 110 million records globally, he became one of the best-selling artists in the world.

He composed five diamond albums, 40 gold albums, 22 platinum albums, and earned 10 Victoires de la Musique. With a repertoire boasting approximately 1,154 songs and collaborations with 187 artists, his musical legacy is unparalleled.

Hallyday was honored with a monumental tribute, drawing a million mourners to his procession and captivating 15 million viewers through televised ceremonies. This is a testament to his enduring influence and profound impact on French culture.

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10: Carla Bruni

Carla Bruni
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Date of birth: December 23, 1967, Turin, Italy

Best works:

  • Comme si de rien n’était
  • Little French Songs
  • French Touch

Carla Bruni, born Carla Gilberta Bruni Tedeschi, is a former model turned singer who rose to worldwide prominence after her wedding to the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2008.

Carla Bruni was a top model who worked for designers and brands such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel, and Versace.

Driven by her passion for music, Bruni made the decision to leave modeling behind and embarked on a music career, releasing her debut album in 2002. Since then, she has produced four studio albums, five music videos, and numerous singles, showcasing her talent and versatility as a musician.

She was also honored with the Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2003. Her other honors include the Grand Cross of the National Order of Benin 2010 and the Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III 2009.

From being a top model to a successful singer, she has left a significant mark and landed among the famous French singers.

FAQs

Who is the most famous French singer?

Jean-Jacques Goldman, Jacques Brel, and Edith Piaf are among the most famous French singers.

Who is the French singer known in the United States?

Edith Piaf is a French singer known in the United States. Her songs, including “La Vie en Rose” and “Non, je ne regrette rien,” have resonated with audiences in the country.

Who is the most successful French musician?

Johnny Hallyday is one of the best-selling French singers ever, selling over 100 million records throughout his career.

Who was the famous female French singer in the 1960s?

Françoise Hardy was a famous female French singer in the 1960s. She was known for her melancholic and introspective songs and became an icon of the yé-yé movement.

Who is the best French woman singer?

Some of the best French women French singers include:

  • Édith Piaf
  • Carla Bruni
  • Brigitte Bardot
  • Françoise Hardy

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