Born: 1949, Dunrea, Manitoba
Years Most Active: 1975-2007
Daniel Lavoie, nicknamed “Man of the Plains”, is a Canadian singer-songwriter with unique characteristics. He is better known in the French-speaking world, though he is from Manitoba, not Quebec. He is one of the few Canadian singers to become famous internationally before a star at home. While many francophone Canadians struggled to get noticed in France, Lavoie had no trouble from the beginning; in fact, the third biggest-selling single of all-time in France was the song “Belle” which he sang along with Quebec’s Garou, and France’s own Patrick Fiori.
Lavoie, born to a musician mother and shop-keeping father, was the oldest of six children, two of whom were adopted. He began piano lessons, continuing his musical education in a Jesuit boarding school at St. Boniface. In 1967, Daniel represented Manitoba, winning a singer-songwriter CBC radio contest on the show Jeunesse Oblige.
He spent the remainder of the ’60s in a few groups. In 1969 he departed to discover Latin America. In 1970, he toured Quebec performing in bars after which he went off to explore Europe. In 1973, Lavoie began recording singles, but they attracted little attention. His first album came in 1975 A Court Terme, which spawned the single “J’ai quitté mon île”. While it made no impact in Canada, it won him fans in France. “Deixei Mihaterra”, a song he recorded in Portuguese, was a hit in both Portugal and Brazil. He toured Quebec a second time to try to crack the market. But it was not until his sophomore album, Berceuse Pour un Lion (1977) that he did so. Radio hits from the album included “Dans le temps des animaux”, “La Vérité sur la vérité”, and the title-track. The success resulted in his taking up residence in Quebec.
From here, fame escalated. Lavoie was one of the very few Canadian artists to make it big in France. In 1979, he released the successful Nirvana Bleu album enabling him to garner the Felix Male Artist of the Year award in 1980 and starred at the Théâtre Montparnasse in Paris. He won it again the following year thanks to the release of two albums: the English Cravings (a commercial failure) and French Aigre doux, How Are You?
After touring Quebec and France, he spent a year working on his next album, Tension Attention, collaborating with songwriter Daniel DeShaime. The album, produced by Briton John Eden (David Bowie), was released at the end of 1983. The title-track won the Song of the Year Felix Award and he again nabbed the Male Artist of the Year. It was a second single from the album, however, that became Lavoie’s signature song. “Ils s’aiment” sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into several languages. The album won France’s Victoire de la Musique Award. “Hôtel (des rêves)” was also popular.
In 1986, Lavoie released an album in two language versions, the French Vue Sur La Mer and English Tips. He performed at Montreal Olympic Stadium and five nights in a row at the prestigious Olympia Theatre, Paris. A live album was released and he continued receiving many awards. His fame had spread to the United States and Liza Minnelli invited him to make an appearance at her show in New York to sing two English songs from the Tips album. Daniel composed the theme song for the movie Les Longs Manteaux, and acted in the film Le Fabuleux Voyage.
In 1990 the “Man of the Plains” came out with the award-winning album Long Courrier and its singles “Jours de plaine” and “Qui sait”. His cool style was arguably getting more attention from the United States than from Anglophone Canada. The song “Weak for Love” from his 1992 English album Here in the Heart was used for an episode of the TV soap “General Hospital”. He reworked the album with a couple of song changes and released Woman to Man two years later.
Lavoie’s next French album was 1995’s Ici. From there he released a couple of children’s albums.
The icing on the cake of Daniel Lavoie’s renown came when he starred in the highly successful Luc Plamondon musical play, Notre-Dame de Paris, in which he played the part of Frollo. The play was a joint French-Quebec production and based on Victor Hugo’s novel. It was launched in France in September 1998 and in the spring of 1999 moved to Quebec. With Quebec’s Garou and France’s Patrick Fiori, the song “Belle” from the play was recorded. To say that it was a hit would be an understatement. The song became the third biggest-selling single of all-time in France (behind Tino Rossi’s 1946 “Petit Papa Noêl” and 2nd place “La Danse Des Canards” by J.J. Lionel). Check out the performance HERE. (Daniel is the second performer).
In the new millennium, Lavoie was invited to participate in the musical version of “Le Petit Prince” and he released the album Comédies Humaines in 2004. The following year he released a tribute album to Felix Leclerc and Docteur Tendresse in 2007. Album La Licorne Captive appeared in 2014 and Mes longs voyages in 2016.
Daniel Lavoie’s Official Website is HERE.