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Diane Dufresne -
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Diane Dufresne

Diane Dufresne

Diane Dufresne

Diane Dufresne was born in a working class suburb of Montreal on September 30th 1944. Her mother died when she was 12 years old and she left school to take care of her brother and sister. Early on she had developed a taste for dressing up and performing, and a few years later a job as a nurse allowed her to pay for singing lessons. Her first professional engagement in a bar in the Montreal suburbs, where she sang standards by French and Quebec artists such as Ferré, Brel and Vigneault. Read more on
Diane Dufresne was born in a working class suburb of Montreal on September 30th 1944. Her mother died when she was 12 years old and she left school to take care of her brother and sister. Early on she had developed a taste for dressing up and performing, and a few years later a job as a nurse allowed her to pay for singing lessons. Her first professional engagement in a bar in the Montreal suburbs, where she sang standards by French and Quebec artists such as Ferré, Brel and Vigneault.

Her meeting with lyric writer Luc Plamondon in 1965 enabled her to work on more personal material. In 1966, still unknown in Quebec, she left for France. Quebec-Paris-Quebec In contrast to her repertoire in Canada, in France she sang songs by Quebec songwriters such as Jean-Pierre Ferland, Claude Léveillée and Félix Leclerc. She performed in the principal cabarets in vogue, including L’Ecluse and L’Echelle de Jacob.

She took singing lessons at the Jean Lumière school, studied drama with actress Françoise Rosay, but she had little more success than in Quebec. A journalist who saw her perform in Paris wrote a glowing article about her, thanks to which, after returning to Quebec in 68, she released her first single, "Mon Cœur est fou". Canadians gave the disc a warm reception and Diane worked harder and developed her incredible talent as a live performer. In 1969, the Quebec public got their first taste of that characteristic Dufresne craziness in the revue, "Les Girls", in which she both acted and sang.

The man of my life Her first real break came when she met lyric writer François Cousineau, who not only became her partner but went on to write her greatest hits. He worked for the cinema, gave numerous concerts and every night during the summers of 70 and 71, played with Dufresne at the La Marjolaine summer theatre near Montreal. In 1972, when Cousineau teamed up with Plamondon, the long line of Dufresne’s hits began with the album "Tiens-toé ben, j’arrive!" released in December. The characteristic Dufresne style was all there: the intensity, the humour, the self-mockery, her provocative manner, her joyful rock ’n’ roll romanticism not without a certain violence, and above all her exceptionally versatile voice.

The album’s success (60.000 copies sold) was due principally to a track which is now a Dufresne standard, "Aujourd’hui j’ai rencontré l’homme de ma vie". In December, for the record’s launch, Diane sang at the Le Patriot theatre, a Montreal venue, then toured throughout Quebec. No holes were barred to make each performance a unique celebration and fans adored her flamboyant stage act with its costumes, hairstyles, makeup, art direction. In 1973, when Diane Dufresne did support act for Julien Clerc at L’Olympia in Paris, fans discovered the full live impact of a new name in Quebec music, as they had done a few years earlier with Robert Charlebois. She got a mixed reception, but in general Europeans were enthusiastic about her frenzied visual and musical imagination.

Show girl From then on, hit followed hit and show followed show. In 74, she staged "A part de d’ça, j’me sens ben/Opéra-Cirque", a show based on the album of the same name released the previous year. She was also back in France with her "Quebec à Paris" tour. In 75 she released the album, "Sur la même longueur d’ondes", which included the hits, "Les hauts et les bas d’une hôtesse de l’air" and "Chanson pour Elvis", both written by Plamondon.

Her show that year, "Mon premier show", again contained a series of vivid tableaux and illustrated the malicious pleasure she has always taken in stripping away the facade of theatrical pretence to show what goes on behind the scenes: at the end of the concert, the curtain and the decors were raised to reveal the stage and the wings completely bare. Following two new shows in 77, "Sans entracte" and "Spectacle au Café campus", she returned to L’Olympia in Paris , playing there from March 13th to 19th, this time top of the bill. Her long collaboration with François Cousineau came to an end during this time, but in 19789, her career made another leap forward with the musical comedy, "Starmania", written by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, in which she played a favourite character of hers, the star on the decline. Recorded in 78, the show was premiered the following year at the Palais des Sports in Paris.

Disguise Also in 78, in her "Comme un film de Fellini" show at the Théâtre St-Denis in Montreal, Dufresne introduced a novel dimension by asking the audience to come to the show made up. The idea worked perfectly and became a fixture of her live performances in following years. In 79 she released the album, "Striptease", with its two superb numbers, "J’ai douze ans", about her mother who died when she was twelve, and "Le Parc Belmont", a disturbing song about madness. In the early eighties, the diva’s stage productions became even more audacious.

On Quebec’s national day on June 24th 1980, she performed in Paris at the famous rock venue, Le Palace, with her breasts barely concealed by a veil. The following year, again on Saint Jean’s day, she appeared in front of an audience of 350.000 audience at the Vieux Port in Montreal dressed as Joan of Arc. The people of Quebec adored it. The constant evolution of her work and her live shows had made her a universally appreciated artist both in "la Belle Province" and in France.

While continuing to work with Luc Plamondon, Diane Dufresne called on new songwriters Angelo Rinaldi, Christian Saint-Roch and Germain Gauthier who in 82 wrote the lyrics of one of the singer’s biggest hits, "Oxygène", on the "Turbulences" album. On the same record, she also did a cover version of Serge Gainsbourg’s "Suicide". Pink In 84, Diane Dufresne staged one of her most famous shows, "Magic Rose", which – as the name suggests – features the colour pink. For the recording of the live album of the same name in the Olympic Stadium on August 16th 1984, audience and singer were dressed entirely in pink.

In front of 46.000 people, Dufresne and guest artists Jacques Higelin and the American group, Manhattan Transfer, put on a show Quebec still remembers today. As if "Magic Rose" was not enough for one year, in November, she put on another show, "Dioxine de Carbone, written by Plamondon and Rinaldi, and directed by Hans-Peter Cloos, at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. In 86, now living in Paris and Montreal, she put on "Top Secret", a highly theatrical show considered by some to be her most original. With "Symphonique n’roll", she opened up a whole new musical dimension for herself, perfectly in tune with her theatrical tastes.

She was invited to do the show by the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, with whom she went on a world tour which included the Palais Garnier in Paris in 91, an exceptional venue for a non-classical piece. Distance With the exception of the world tour, which took her to Japan, Diane Dufresne began to distance herself from her profession. In 1990, she performed for one night in the Paris suburbs with Quebec artists Claude Dubois and Michel Rivard and Frenchman Georges Moustaki. In 1993, Diane Dufresne tried her hand at song writing, choosing the themes which have continually obsessed her: money, the environment and unhappiness.

"Détournement majeur", a rock dominated album, was written during a six-month stay in New York funded by a government grant. Audiences at the Forum in Montreal and then at L’Olympia in Paris from December 14th to 19th, applauded a performer, now almost fifty, who had become more tempered but had lost nothing of her offbeat imaginativeness. Fans had to wait until 1997 for the next Diane Dufresne album, "Comme un parfum de confession". With several tracks written and performed by classical pianist Alexis Weissenberg, it was both more intimate and more sober than her previous releases.

The singer who had done everything, given everything on stage, premiered a new show in Paris in January 1998, in the stark but very beautiful Bouffes du Nord theatre. In contrast to her hits of yesteryear, her new material was like the show’s title, "Reservé" (Reserved). Backed by a string section and piano, the singer again played her favourite role, the jaded and blasé star, with several songs, including "J’vieillis", written by Michel Jonasz. On August 10th 1998 Diane Dufresne gave a memorable performance at the popular open-air festival in Ramatuelle (in the South of France).

Welcome Comeback Diane made a major comeback on the Quebec music scene in April '99. After performing her show "Réservé" at the Musée d'art contemporain in Montreal then in Paris at the Bouffes Parisiens in '98, the singer reworked her show very slightly and presented it in a small Quebec venue, le Théâtre Petit Champlain. Diane's new show, which this time round was simply entitled "Merci" (Thank you), received a warm welcome from Quebecois music fans. In June '99 Diane went on to bring the house down at the "Saint Jean" festival (a traditional Quebecois event organised to celebrate Saint John's Day).

At the beginning of August Ms. Dufresne was back on stage, performing at the opening night of the Francofolies Festival in Montreal, where she shared the stage with Claude Dubois and Kevin Parent, two other popular Quebecois stars. Meanwhile, Diane continued to devote much of her time to her painting career and in the summer of '99 the singer had her work exhibited in the States, in a gallery in the New York region. In July 2001 the singer performed next to Robert Charlebois and Claude Dubois at the 35th anniversary of the Quebec Summer Festival. The audience delighted in the inspiring trio.

At the same time, the star prepared a great exhibition of her paintings in old Quebec. For the two following years she toured up and down the country. In March 2003 she landed in Paris where she brought the house down on March 14th and 15th. The French were so excited to meet the Quebec singer again that tickets were sold out long before the show. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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