Sylvie Vartan

As teenagers in France in the early 1960s set about creating a youth movement to emulate the American rock and roll revolution and British beat bands, Sylvie Vartan – born Sylvie Vartanian on August 15, 1944, in Iskrets, Bulgaria - was the schoolgirl who emerged from the Ye-Ye scene, married French superstar Johnny Hallyday, and became one of Europe's great modern divas. Raised in the village of Iskrets in the Sofia Province of Bulgaria, her father worked for the French Embassy and was friends with film director Dako Dakovski, who gave a six-year-old child her first break as an extra in his 1952 movie Pod Igoto. The family fled the Soviet regime and moved to Paris, France soon after and Vartan's dreams of stardom were heightened when her elder brother Eddie became a jazz organist, trumpeter, and budding music producer. At a time when radio programs were actively hyping the new wave of pop starlets, Eddie Vartan recruited 16-year-old sister to duet with Frankie Jordan for Decca in 1961. Their hit “Panne d'essence” led to a string of solo singles including a cover of Ray Charles' “What'd I Say”, “Quand le film est triste”, and “Tous mes copains”, along with the release of her self-titled debut album in 1962. She was soon appearing in movies as well, and after touring with pop heartthrob Johnny Hallyday, she starred opposite him in D'où Viens-tu Johnny ? and headed to America to record Sylvie à Nashville with gospel singers The Jordanaires. Sylvie Vartan supported The Beatles at the Paris Olympia and became a massive global star, before marrying Hallyday in 1965 and scoring her iconic hit “La Plus Belle pour aller danser”. With her glamorous image she wooed US audiences with the album A Gift Wrapped from Paris, and fully adopted the role of a risqué blonde bombshell with singles “Irresistiblement” and “Baby Capone” in 1968. She later embraced a more wholesome easy listening style, but after suffering serious injuries in a car accident, she took a break. Sylvie Vartan returned in the 1970s with theatrical, show-stopping tours, Number 1 disco hits - including “Qu'est-ce qui fait pleurer les blondes ?” and “Petit Rainbow” - and a headlining run in Las Vegas. Her high-profile marriage to Hallyday came to an end in 1980 but she made a comeback with electro-ballad album Cofidanses in 1989. Remaining an admired national treasure in France, she continued to turn her hand to a variety of different projects, including stripping down her sound on Sessions Acoustiques in 1994, working with son David Hallyday on Sensible in 1998 and recording covers of the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg songs on Nouvelle Vague in 2007. She celebrated 50 years in the music business with album Live à la Salle Pleyel in 2011 and released Avec Toi, a 2018 tribute album to her ex-husband Johnny Hallyday, a year after his death. After a three-year break, Sylvie Vartan returned with the album Merci pour le Regard (2021). The album was produced by her husband Tony Scotti, one half of the American sibling duo that ran the Scotti Brothers label.

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