Although Lara Fabian is of Italian origin, she was actually born in Belgium in 1970. Growing up in a musical household – Lara’s father was a professional guitarist- it was not long before the talented youngster vowed to follow in the family footsteps. Lara soon proved to have a remarkable voice and by the age of 14 she had already started performing on the club circuit with her father.
Lara’s extensive live experience would stand the young singer in good stead when she took part in the “Tremplin” talent contest in Brussels in 1986. This annual contest is aimed at providing a springboard for up-and-coming singers and musicians – and it certainly proved to be a launchpad for Ms. Fabian! The talented youngster wiped the board at the “Tremplin” contest in 86, winning three of the top awards.
Two years later Lara would impress the judges at the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in fourth place with her song “Croire”. While Lara was not the overall winner at the 1988 edition of Eurovision, her single sales certainly profited from her performance. Indeed, European sales of “Croire” soon soared to almost 600,000.
But in spite of Lara’s growing popularity on the European music scene, the young singer would soon choose to leave Europe behind. Lara decided to settle in Montreal in 1991, after falling in love with Quebec on a promotional tour for her single “Je sais”. (In moving to Canada Lara would set out on a reverse trip to her Sicilian grandfather, who was born in New York but ended up moving back to Europe in later life).
Lara wasted no time in getting her career off the ground in Quebec. Shortly after her arrival in Montreal, the young singer went into the studio to record her début album, entitled simply “Lara Fabian”. The album proved to be a huge success and music fans in Quebec soon ‘adopted’ the Belgian/Italian singer as their own. Following the chart success of her first album, Lara went on to record a whole string of hit singles including “Le jour où tu partiras” and “Qui pense … l’amour?”. Lara’s powerful voice and her extensive repertoire of romantic ballads soon proved to be a winning combination and thousands of fans began flocking to see the young singer in concert. It certainly came as no surprise to anyone when Lara Fabian was nominated for a Félix award (the Quebecois equivalent of the “Victoires de la Musique” awards) in 1991.
Over the next two years Lara would concentrate her attention on her live concerts, setting off on a series of extensive tours. The rising young star was also invited to perform at numerous festivals worldwide. Meanwhile, Lara’s album continued to do extremely well in the charts and by the end of 1993 the singer found herself the proud owner of a gold disc (when sales of her album “Lara Fabian” topped the 50,000 mark). Lara would also receive another nomination for a Félix award towards the end of 93. As Lara continued her steady rise to fame, her album kept on selling like hotcakes – and sales of “Lara Fabian” soon topped the 100,000 mark!
Following in the footsteps of Céline Dion – incidentally, Lara’s repertoire has often been compared to the Qu‚becois diva’s – the Belgian singer grew increasingly popular on the French Canadian music scene. Indeed, Lara Fabian’s “Sentiments acoustiques” tour, which took the singer to 25 different towns in French-speaking Canada, proved to be a veritable triumph. Fuelled by the success of this tour, Lara’s popularity soon reached new heights and she went on to get voted “Most Promising Newcomer on the Quebec Music Scene” in a magazine survey – a rare achievement for a singer born in Belgium!
In 1994 Lara returned to the studio to record her second album “Carpe Diem”. This proved to be even more of a success than the singer’s first album – indeed, “Carpe diem” went gold within two weeks of its release and sales topped the 300,000 mark just a few months later. Not surprisingly, Lara Fabian went on to triumph at the ADISQ Gala in 1995, scooping the Félix award for “Artist of the Year” as well as “Best Live Show”. Lara was also honoured in Toronto at the Juno awards (the English equivalent of the Félix awards).
Overwhelmed by the warm welcome she had received in Canada, Lara soon decided to make her adoptive homeland her real home. And on July 1st 1996, on the occasion of La Fête du Canada, Lara became a nationalised Canadian.
By the time Lara released her third album “Pure” in October 96, the singer’s popularity appeared to know no bounds. “Pure”, produced by Rick Allison – who had been responsible for the studio production on Lara’s two previous albums – would not only confirm Lara Fabian as one of the Canadian music scene’s major stars, it also gave her a chance to show off her songwriting talent. In fact, Lara ended up writing several of the tracks on her new album. She also enlisted the help of a pair of famous Canadian songwriters, Daniel Seff (who penned “Ici”) and Daniel Lavoie (responsible for “Urgent désir”).
But the highlight of Lara Fabian’s career in 1996 was when she recorded the soundtrack for Walt Disney’s cartoon version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. (Lara beat off competition from a host of other music stars to play the role of Esmerelda).
After spending the autumn of 96 caught up in a hectic promotional schedule for the album “Pure”, Lara would devote most of the following year to her European career. “Pure”, released in Europe on June 19th, proved to be a phenomenal hit and Lara’s new single “Tout” soon went rocketing to the top of the charts, selling half a million copies! By the end of the summer Lara was not only a mega-star in Canada, she had also managed to establish herself at the forefront of the European music scene.
Lara’s European success was confirmed on September 18th 1997 when Polygram Belgium presented the young singer with her first gold disc for European sales. This triumph was closely followed by five nominations at the 1997 edition of the Félix awards in Canada. (It came as no surprise to anyone when on October 26th Lara Fabian walked off with the Félix award for “Most Popular Album of the Year”!)
As Lara Fabian’s career continues to go from strength to strength in Canada, the singer has also been building up an impressive following of fans in Europe. In January 98 these fans got a special treat when Ms. Fabian’s European tour brought her back to her homeland, Belgium. French fans also gave Ms. Fabian a warm welcome when she performed in Paris at the legendary Olympia (on January 28th). Just a few days later Lara Fabian went on to triumph at the French “Victoires de la Musique”, scooping the award for Best Newcomer of 97 (a rather strange award for someone who was already an absolute mega-star in Canada!) In the spring of 98 Lara also performed two sell-out concerts at the Palais des Sports stadium in Paris (April 25th and 26th), fans going wild for her new songs.
Lara Fabian was soon very much in demand. In June 98 Michel Sardou invited her to perform with him when he gave a concert at the Molson Centre in Montreal. Then, in September of this year, the legendary French rock star Johnny Hallyday invited Lara to perform at his mega-concert at the Stade de France (5th, 6th and 11th September ). One of the highlights of the show was the pair’s memorable duet of “Requiem pour un fou”.
In the autumn of ’99 Lara embarked upon a mini-tour of France, playing 24 dates up and down the country. Around the same time news of her affair with French singer Patrick Fiori hit the headlines.
When Tommy Mottola, the director of Sony, heard Lara Fabian for the first time he was instantly bowled over by her vocals – which explains why Lara’s album “Adagio” featured such an impressive list of producers. The album, which took two years to record and necessitated frequent trips between studios in the U.S., London and Montreal, was released in Europe and Canada in November ’99. “Adagio” included tracks produced by Rick Allison, Walter Afanassieff (renowned for his work with Barbra Streisand), Patrick Leonard (Madonna) and Brian Rawling (Cher).
With “Adagio”, Lara aimed to make her mark on the international music scene and follow in Céline Dion’s wake, breaking into the American market. The Franco-Canadian diva ended up scoring a huge hit in Europe, where she lined up TV interview after TV interview in the spring of 2000 and “Adagio” went on to sell over 5 million copies in the space of just a few months. Meanwhile, Lara’s new single “I Will Love Again” shot to n°1 in Billboard’s Club Play Chart.
But one of the biggest challenges of Lara Fabian’s career came later that year when her album was released in the States on May 30th 2000. While Lara did not manage to topple Céline Dion from her podium, her album did extremely well in the U.S., sales boosted by a massive promotional campaign and appearances on prime time American TV shows such as the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Indeed, the album sold so well that a few weeks after its release Ms. Fabian found herself catapulted to number 6 in the Billboard-Heatseeker charts.
Lara celebrated her success with a mini-tour of Europe that summer, playing 24 dates across France, Belgium and Switzerland in July and August.
Following her success in the USA, Lara scooped another Félix award—the Quebecois equivalent for the ‘Victoires de la Musique’ awards—for ‘distinguishing herself in other languages than French’, at the ADISQ gala on November 5th.
An uphill struggle in the U.S.
In January 2001 Lara took part in the annual fund-raising efforts of Les Enfoirés, a group of some 30 top French music stars who got together to record an album and perform on tour together. Meanwhile, Lara was fighting hard to secure a place for herself on the music scene in the U.S. – sadly to little avail. With Céline Dion enthroned as the no.1 Francophone star in the States, there seemed to be little place for another. On March 2nd Lara was invited to perform her single, “I Will Love Again”, at the Miss USA beauty pageant, but after that her record company, Sony, gave up trying to market her in the U.S.
Lara set her sights on conquering the Brazilian market instead. Her song “Love By Grace” had been broadcast as part of a famous Brazilian television series so the Franco-Canadian diva already had a strong fan base over there. Lara flew out to Brazil and performed an extensive promotional tour (March 18th to 31st), delighting fans in Rio, Sao Paolo and the capital, Brasilia.
In June 2001 Lara made another move towards establishing herself in the American ‘star system’, recording “For Always” (a track that featured on the soundtrack to Stephen Spielberg’s film: “AI”).
With her English album not having taken off quite as well as she had hoped, Lara decided to work on a new album in French. Recording is due to start in September 2001 and Lara will be working with producer Rick Allinson once again, travelling between studios in France, Quebec and the United States.
Lara Fabian has become a very popular figure on the music scene in Europe and Quebec, yet her public image is somewhat negative. Critics do not approve that she overdoes her singing. What’s more, her unbridled private life, for which she is a favourite with tabloids—in particular when she split up with Patrick Fiori in 2000—often casts a shadow over her career.
Lara’s English album sold two million copies worldwide, despite a very tepid reception in France where the singer continues to suffer from the comparison with Celine Dion.
In July 2001, she released “J’y crois encore” (I still believe in it), the first simple of her Naked, her forthcoming French album, entitled “Nue” (Naked). In an attempt to reunite with her French-speaking public, Lara penned the French lyrics herself. The album was recorded in Montreal and produced by Ricky Allison. Strictly following the rules of success with powerful singing and simple but effective melodies accompanied by professional arrangements, “Nue” should appeal to the fans that have supported her since the beginning of her career.
While going on with the promotion of the album, the singer went back to the studio to record the theme song for a Brazilian soap opera produced by TV Globo and broadcast in Brazil, Portugal, South America and the USA. For that occasion Lara Fabian sung in Portuguese. The song is entitled “Meu Grande Amor”. A few weeks later, she recorded another title—a duet with Florent Pagny that is listed on the latter’s album “Deux”.
Then, on December 14th, she gave the opening concert of her new tour—”Nue”—in Brussels before travelling back to Paris where she performed two dates at the Zenith on December 17th and 19th. She went on touring up and down France until March 2002.
For the Football World Cup taking place that year in Korea and Japan, Lara was asked by the FIFA (the International Football Federation) to take part in their album as the representative of Belgium with the song “World At Your Feet”.
Following the “Nue” tour, she released “Lara Fabian Live”, a double CD and DVD. Soon after she was back on the road, this time for an acoustic tour. Between November 2002 and February 2003, Lara performed her own songs as well as a few covers, such as Renaud’s “Mistral Gagnant” or “Caruso”. On the album “En toute intimité” (named after the tour), recorded at the Olympia in Paris on 2 and 3 February, she also sings “Tu est mon autre” as a duo with Maurane. On the single from the album “Bambina”, she sings with Jean-Félix Lalanne, a famous guitarist and also her partner. She toured outside France in 2004, with far-flung dates in Moscow, Beirut and Tahiti.
After this new round of success, Lara Fabian tried her chances in the international arena, following in the footsteps of Céline Dion. She put out an English-language album in May 2004 entitled “A Wonderful Life”, and a first single “Big Deal”. But this album wasn’t the big success she’d been hoping for, and Lara quickly went back to the studios to record a new album in French.
“9” came out in February 2005. The sleeve depicts the singer in foetal position, perhaps signalling a rebirth with the new album. In any case, it was a time of change for Lara Fabian, both personal and artistic. She left Quebec to return to Belgium. She also changed her team. On this album, she worked with Jean-Felix Lalanne to write the songs. Her voice is less forced and more serious. All the lyrics – which she wrote – are about love and rediscovering happiness. A new life seems to be opening up for Lara Fabian.
After completing an 80-date tour of Europe, Lara released “Un regard neuf” (a live version of her album “9”) in October 2006. The following year she went into the studio to record a duet with the popular Italian singer Gigi d’Alessio (“Un Cuore Malato”). Later that year, Lara took a temporary break from her singing career to have a baby with her partner, the film director Gérard Pullicino. The couple’s daughter, Lou, was born on 20 November 2007.
Lara made a comeback on the recording front in May 2009 with an album entitled “Toutes les femmes en moi” (All the women in me.) The album, a sort of personal tribute to the artists who had made an impact on her personal and professional life, featured soul, gospel and R&B reworkings of songs such as Edith Piaf’s “L’Hymne à l’amour”, Barbara’s “Göttingen”, Françoise Hardy’s “Message personnel” and Nana Mouskouri’s “Soleil.” Last but very much not least, the album included a cover of the Céline Dion classic “L’Amour existe encore.”
Lara gave a series of memorable performances at the Paris Zénith (7 – 9 Octobrer 2009).
As a double album of greatest hits came out in November 2010, Lara was working on developing her career in Russia and Eastern Europe, where her multiple concerts made her into a star. These eastern countries were the target of her album “Mademoiselle Zhivago”, released in November of the same year. Sung in five languages and composed by the Russian Igor Krutoy, the album was marked by a tour including three concerts at the Kremlin in Moscow. Sales clocked up 800,000 copies in Eastern Europe.
After several postponements, the project was finally released in France and Benelux in June 2012 in the form of a boxed set including a live recording of her Kremlin concerts and a photo album. The absence of a record label resulted in a relatively limited release.
In April 2013, Lara Fabian released an original new album, “Le Secret”, produced by her own label and launched by the single “Deux ils, deux elles”, a song about gay marriage. A tour started that autumn, but the singer was obliged to space out her concerts after a hearing incident left her temporarily deaf. In January 2014, she finally cancelled all of her concerts to focus on recovery.