Tell, Diane

Diane Tell (b Fortin). Singer, songwriter, guitarist, b Quebec City, to a Canadian father and US mother, 24 Dec 1957. Her childhood was spent between Paris, Montreal and Val-d'Or, Que. She studied violin and classical guitar at the CMM, and jazz guitar at Saint-Laurent College. She hosted radio shows on Montreal station CKOI and, when she began singing, opened for Rick Derringer, Chris de Burgh and Leo Sayer. She sang in bars of Montreal's West End prior to recording her first album. Her romantic lyrics coupled with melodies inspired by jazz and South American music charmed critics immediately. Following a one-year stay in New York, she launched her second LP featuring the hit 'Gilberto'. 'Gone are the wooden clogs and prehistoric skirts, gone are the homespun recordings where spontaneity covered up for lack of technique, gone is the musical macrame and the political guilt feelings: Diane Tell heralds the era of technocrats and professionals, image-makers and career-builders,' Nathalie Petrowski wrote in Le Devoir (Montreal).

In 1981, Diane Tell represented Quebec at the Spa Festival, Belgium, with 'Maître en parologie' and 'Si j'étais un homme,' (she was the only female participant). The latter song truly showcased her talent and won her a trophy at the MIDEM in Cannes in 1982. In addition, she captured Félix Awards for best LP and as singer-songwriter (Entre nous) and revelation of the year in 1980. Her third album, En flèche (also launched in France), including 'Si j'étais un homme', 'Miami', and 'Je suis en amour,' sold over 175 000 copies. She then began singing with the jazz group UZEB, adding a unique ability to her performing style; with the group, she appeared at Montreal's Forum and toured in France. As well, she toured many Canadian cities in 1982 and gave a concert at the St-Denis Theatre in Montreal. Show Magazine wrote at that time (Apr 1981): 'True to her jazz inspiration, she moves easily from rhythm'n'blues to ballads to Latin rhythms. Fusing simple, accessible and intelligible lyrics with highly rhythmic, original musics, she speaks of her generation and of the world of today'.

In 1983, Diane Tell moved to France, gave a show at the Olympia, in Paris, and launched On a besoin d'amour. Her French album Faire à nouveau connaissance won the Victoire trophy for French-language album of the year in 1986. That year, she gave a second concert at the Olympia. In 1987, she took part in the Francofolies broadcast on FR3. Appearing once more at the Olympia in 1989, she also starred, along with Renaud Hantson and Nanette Workman, in La Légende de Jimmy, a rock opera by Luc Plamondon and Michel Berger (staged by her husband, Jérôme Savary). Based on the life of James Dean, it played for five months at the Mogador in Paris in 1990, and the recording sold over 100 000 copies (CBS CK-90857).