Artist biography: Jean-Jacques Goldman
The famous French pop-singer Jean-Jacques Goldman was born in Paris on 11 October 1951. His songs are sentimental melodies that are mainly popular to French-speaking teenage audiences, and he is also known for using his musical success as a vehicle for voicing political concerns. Goldman learned the piano and the violin at a young age, but abandoned the study of classical music in 1968 after discovering Aretha Franklin's soul smash Think. In light of this musical 'revelation', Goldman developed a passion for American rock 'n roll and folk music, and took up the guitar. He was an avid Jimi Hendrix fan, and his guitar playing was greatly influenced by Hendrix and other guitar heroes of the 1970s. Goldman's first flirtation with the French music scene was with prog rock band Taï Phong (Vietnamese for "Great Wind"). They released their first album in 1975, and their first single, 'Sister Jane', was a smash hit. After recording their third album, Last Flight, Taï Phong decided to split up in 1979, and Goldman was joined by Welsh guitarist Michael Jones.
Goldman's major breakthrough into the music business came in 1981 when a young producer, Marc Lumbroso heard one of Goldman's songs and encouraged Goldman to write a demo. Lumbroso played the demo to Epic Records, who were impressed and agreed to release Il Suffira D'Un Signe as a single. The song was a massive success, and was asked to sign a five-album deal with Epic. Goldman's debut solo album, Démodé, was released later that year. In 1982 he released his second album Minoritaire, which included the hit single Quand la musique est bonne. Goldman's subsequent albums were equally successful in France; however, his music never achieved the same success in non-French-speaking countries, particularly Britain and America. His fourth album, released in 1985, entered the charts at number one, selling 1.2 million copies in its first year. The second single from that album was Je te donne, a bilingual duet with Jones. The song stayed at number one in the French charts for eight weeks, and is Goldman's most successful hit to date.
In 1990, American singer Carole Fredericks joined the musical partnership, and the trio called themselves Fredericks-Goldman-Jones. In 1994 the trio performed acoustic versions of Goldman's songs on behalf of Amnesty International at the famous Parisian jazz club, New Morning. He is also renowned for his involvement in the charity for homeless people, Les Restos du Coeur, for whom he wrote a song for. Throughout his career, Goldman has written for, and collaborated with, many other famous singers, including the Canadian singer Céline Dion, French singers Johnny Hallyday, Patrick Fiori and Patricia Kaas, and English blues rock singer Joe Cocker.
In August 1997, he released En Passant, a melancholic album dealing with the theme of escapism, and drawing heavily on rhythm and blues and Oriental percussion. An arguably more matured sound, this was a huge change in musical direction for Goldman, both lyrically and instrumentally. However, this did not affect record sales: at the beginning of 1998, En Passant had sold over 1,250,000 copies. Between March 1998 and June 1999, Goldman embarked on a solo tour across France, Switzerland, Belgium, Africa, the Indian Ocean and the French West Indies, without the aid of band members Fredericks and Michael. Following the success of this tour, Goldman wrote ten tracks for Céline Dion's album S'il suffisait d'aimer, released in September 1998.
Another change in musical direction came in 2001 with the release of Chansons pour les pieds, a medley of styles and genres, including techno, dance, pop, rock and disco. Despite the change in musical tack, lyrically little had changed. In 2002 Goldman re-recorded his song Ensemble in support of the Socialist Party candidate for the French presidential campaign, and in 2003 released a 22-track album called Un tour ensemble, whilst again collaborating with Céline Dion on her new French album.
It is Goldman's adeptness for producing catchy, heartfelt tunes that gains popularity with his audiences. His unique-sounding voice— which is relatively high-pitched for a male singer— combined with sincere lyrical weavings render his works an important contribution to contemporary French pop music.