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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen Comes to France Joli: Exclusive Interview

What can I say by way of introducing this Q&A? When it comes to divas named Joli, make mine France because she is a true, legendary star. Like Cher, she is a survivor in the music industry and has provided generations of radio listeners and club-goers alike with joy and genuine inspiration. Undeniably one of the major divas of the disco era, I am incredibly humbled by the fact that she agreed to do this interview with me. Once again, major thanks, love and kisses to Barbara Sobel of Sobel Promotions for arranging this chat. Personally, I found Miss Joli charming, genuine and touching, as I'm sure you will, too. Here, then, my Q&A with France Joli:

Dj Buddy Beaverhausen: Hello, Miss Joli, and thank you so much. It's such a pleasure to interview one of the truly great and most beloved divas since the disco era; certainly a personal favorite of mine. Welcome.  
France Joli: Thank you. The pleasure’s all mine.
DBB:You recently recorded "Hallelujah" with producer Julian Marsh, whom I previously interviewed this year. What was it like working together? And did you ever imagine you'd be singing Leonard Cohen?  
FJ: Actually, I produced "Hallelujah" myself, and Julian Marsh was one of the three remixers. Julian is a very talented man and a real sweetheart. Love him! This song was one of my all time favorites. When I sang it at my father's funeral a couple of years ago, I had this revelation of doing a dance version of it. I listened to my little voice inside and after a while I just went for it. As an artist, I needed to do this for myself and for my fans, whom I adore. I was very pleased about how well it was received.
DBB: You are currently busy touring. Can you give fans any upcoming performance dates through the holidays and beyond? 
FJ: After all these years I am still very active and performing constantly. I am booked all the way to September 2014. Most of my performances are on the East Coast, but France and Mexico are also on the agenda. New Years Eve will be in New York at the Resorts World Casino. I also look forward to making my way out to California next May for a surprise show that has not been announced yet, so I can’t quite tell you what it is. I will be sharing the stage with many other artists that I love and care about.
DBB: Well, I now know where I'll be on New Year's Eve!
DBB: You're from the Montreal area and, I understand, performing since childhood. What inspired you to start out at such a young age ? Who were your musical influences as a young girl? 
FJ: I started singing before I could even talk! [Laughs.] I always wanted to sing and learn different songs that moved me. When I discovered Barbra Streisand around the age of 10, I fell in  love. I sang over her records for soooo many years learning every sound, breath and silence she possessed. She was my singing teacher. As I got older, I got into Stevie Wonder, Gino Vanelli and of course, Miss Donna Summer, to name a few.

DBB: There's no avoiding discussing "Come to Me," one of the greatest disco hits. And it has been remixed forever! I don't know of  anyone who's never heard this song. What is it like to have a song of such timeless status associated with you?  
FJ: I feel very fortunate to have been part of such success. This song is still being played all over the world after 34 years. How can you not be grateful? 
DBB: Is it true you performed it, as a last-minute replacement for Donna Summer, at a concert on Fire Island in July of 1979 before an  audience of 5,000 people? 
FJ: Believe it or not, it is true. My record company at the time heard of the opportunity and suggested I would sing for the 5,000 thousand gay men (and their straight friends) that night. I was so glad they said yes! It was my very first American performance and to this day nothing can beat it. That night can never be re-created even if we tried. It was pure magic. Hearing a roar of applause from 5,000 people is the ultimate. I will forever be grateful for the love and support the gay community has given me throughout my whole career.
DBB: I saw you at Fire Island Pines in the '90s. You were just the sweetest diva I ever saw on stage. You truly do love your audiences, don't you? You were weeping at the adulation you received that night.  
FJ: Sometimes my emotions get the better of me. It's something I have a hard time explaining but I will try. When there is a moment during my show where people are showing me appreciation (in a very distinct way of cheering), I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel it so deep within me that it gets me very vulnerable and mushy. I wish I could kiss and hug each and everyone of them personally.
DBB: Frankly, I feel that's very touching and dear that you relate to your audiences with such love and passion, and I think your emotions infuse the songs you sing and set you apart as a very special presence in popular music. Your realness comes through in everything you sing.
DBB: In 1996, you reunited with "Come to Me" producer Tony Green to do two fantastic club hits, "Touch" and "Breakaway." Could you tell us about this major comeback?  
FJ: Tony Green approached me with the song "Touch" in hopes that I would embark on a full-length album project with him. Hearing some of the ideas of songs he had reserved for me I decided to go ahead and record the album. Then came the "Breakaway" song not long after that. When the album was completed, it was nice to go back on a promotional tour and reacquaint myself with old friends in the business and to meet a total new generation of DJ's and radio jocks. 
DBB: You worked with Pete Belotte and Giorgio Moroder in the 1980s and had successes with "Girl in the '80s" and "Dumb Blonde." What was that experience like for you? 
FJ: I was delighted to work with such legends. I had been a fan of all the Donna Summer songs and productions so I was very excited. I lived in L.A. for two months to record this album. The experience was different than what I was used to. In all my previous albums, I was always involved in the process of the musical recordings. This time it wasn't the case. The music was produced and recorded and then I would familiarize myself with the song so I could put my vocals down. The musical direction of this album was totally new to me as well. It was an experience I will always cherish. One of the greatest moments of this recording was spending time with Michael Jackson (with whom I shared the management team Weisner-DeMann). What a musician, what a guy! 

DBB: Like every performer, you've had career highs and lows. Did you ever take a break from it? Did you ever think you'd leave; was that ever an option you considered?  
FJ: There were times in my life where I had doubts about my career. The questioning was all about fear and insecurity and not about the lack of love of it. I always came to the conclusion that I would be unhappy doing anything else but my career. I don't know what the future holds for me but for today I'm in it and loving it.

DBB: "Heart to Break a Heart" was another great classic disco hit for you. Then came another smash radio and club hit, "Gonna Get Over You." This had a distinctly different, funkier sound. Why was that?

FJ: As we were moving into the mid-80s, the music was drastically changing. Disco was no longer getting radio play and was in fact losing its popularity. When my label suggested Crown Heights Affair to produce my next album, it felt right. R&B and Funk were very close to my heart and to me were an excellent continuity from Disco. 

DBB: Do you ever get a chance to relax? What do you like to do best when not performing? 
FJ: I love golfing. It's my favourite sport. I also love watching movies and reading.
DBB: Anything upcoming to announce? We reach a large international audience with a strong LGBT fan base at Queens Our City radio and my blog, Blab It to Beaverhausen. What would you, finally, like to shout out to your fans around the globe? 
FJ: Thank you, thank you and thank you again for your great support, generosity and trust. The love you have given me through the years is immeasurable. It keeps me wanting to become a better person, signer and performer. To the LGBT community: You have put me on the map and for that I will be forever grateful. I will be there for you as you were there for me. I love you all. There are so many places I want to return to in this world—places where I performed years ago…and places to which I’ve never been.  Europe…Asia…Australia. Fans often write wanting to know when I will be in their location.  If there are any promoters or show producers out there who want to arrange for me to come perform for fans in their country or city, you can always contact me or my manager Daniel Vaillancourt through my Facebook page. Daniel’s email is there. I want to share my love and talent with as many people worldwide as I can. Live and in person, baby!

[Link to the music video of "Hallelujah" by France Joli. Absolute fabulousness! Not only has time not diminished this diva's voice, it's strengthened it even more.]
DBB: Miss Joli, thanks so much from all of us. You have a hold on our hearts with your talent and your music. Please know you are beloved by me and by all your many fans and admirers. 
FJ: Believe me, the pleasure is and has been all mine. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk to you and to your readers and listeners and to share part of my life with fans around the world. xxoo

1 comment:

  1. France Joli has an amazing voice and fantastic hit songs. She is a great performer.I met her at an event I was with Randy Jones and she was gracious and beautiful.