PARIS, March 4 (AFP) – The singer and poet Claude Nougaro, who helped keep alive traditional French “chanson” during the pop and rock invasion of the 1960s, died Thursday after a long illness, his agent said. He was 74.
In a career of nearly 50 years during which he recorded 20 albums, Nougaro developed a jazz-influenced style to deliver lyrics that mixed poetry with earthy humour. He called himself “a baroque troubadour.”
Among his best-known songs are “Toulouse,” “Cecile,” “Jazz et Java,” “Une petite fille en pleurs,” “Paris mai,” and “La pluie fait des claquettes.”
The son of an opera-singing father and a pianist mother, Nougaro was born in the southwestern city of Toulouse in 1929. He first worked as a journalist, but then wrote poems which he began to recite in cabarets and then had set to music.
“I am singer of texts who can just about keep rhythm,” he said in 1997.
Though heavily indebted to jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Nougaro said the French language meant he had to develop a different musical form to deliver his verse.
“For me jazz is too much bound up with the sound of the English language, which uses simple words. On the other hand the French language has a literary aspect which I have always loved,” he said.
Nougaro suffered from heart problems in later life and in 2002 stopped singing on stage, instead reading his lyrics aloud.
Subject: France news