Patricia Kaas (French: kas; born 5 December 1966 in Forbach, Moselle) is a French singer and actress.
Kaas is a very successful French-speaking singer, with an International following. Stylistically her music is not classical chanson, but is closer to a mixture of pop music, cabaret, jazz and chanson.
Since the appearance of her debut album Mademoiselle chante... in 1988 Kaas has sold over 16 million records worldwide. She had her greatest success in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Russia, Finland, and Korea with her third album Je te dis vous. Kaas is almost constantly on tour internationally. In 2002 Kaas had her film debut in And now... Ladies and Gentlemen beside Jeremy Irons. Kaas is currently on "Kabaret" world tour since the end of 2008. Kaas represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, Russia and finished in 8th place.
1966-1984: Early life edit:
Patricia Kaas was born as the youngest of her family on December,5 1966 in Forbach, Lorraine, France, near the border of Germany. Her father, Joseph (a miner), was French Lorrain, and her mother, Irmgard, West German citizen from Saar. Kaas grew up in Stiring-Wendel, between Forbach and Saarbrücken on the French side of the border. Until the age of six she spoke only Lorraine Franconian. Her Franco-German heritage resulted in a constant interest in improving the relationship between the two countries.
Her mother encouraged Kaas to become a singer at a very young age. At the age of eight Kaas was already singing songs by Sylvie Vartan, Dalida, Claude François and Mireille Mathieu, but also English-language songs such as New York, New York, at various small events; among others the marriage of her brother. Her first great success came when she received first place at a pop song contest. At her first appearances Kaas was already displaying the throaty, smoky voice that would lead to comparisons with Édith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich.
Kaas took her first step into the professional music business at the age of 13, when, with the help of her brother Egon, she signed a contract with the Saarbrücken Club Rumpelkammer. Kaas took the name Pady Pax, after the brass band Pax Majorettes from Stiring-Wendel, of which she and her sister Carine were members, and for seven years appeared with the band Dob's Lady Killers. At 16 she took a placement with a model agency in Metz. Kaas' first attempts to break into the music business once and for all initially failed, however; a producer rejected her on the grounds that the world did not need a second Mireille Mathieu. Kaas' producer at this time was the architect Bernard Schwartz, who would lead her to her first great success.
1985-1986: Jalouse and The Beginnings edit:
In 1985 Kaas was finally sponsored by the French actor Gérard Depardieu at the age of 19. Schwartz saw her singing at the Rumpelkammer in Saarbrücken and introduced her to the songwriter François Bernheim. Bernheim worked with her and convinced Depardieu to produce her music.
Depardieu produced Kaas' first single Jalouse (Eng: Jealous), written by Bernheim and Depardieu's wife Elisabeth. The single was published by EMI, but was a flop. Nonetheless, her encounter with Depardieu was one of the most important events in the beginning of Kaas' artistic career.
1987-1989: Mademoiselle chante le blues edit:
Through Jalouse and Bernheim the French songwriter Didier Barbelivien became aware of Kaas. His song Mademoiselle chante le blues (Eng: Lady sings the blues) was the singer's first big hit. The single was published in 1987 by Polydor, and reached 7th place in the French singles chart. The next year Kaas' second single D'Allemagne (Eng: From Germany) was recorded, written by Barbelivien and Bernheim.
Shortly afterwards Kaas' first album Mademoiselle chante... was produced. It reached 2nd place in the French album charts and stayed there for two months, remaining in the Top 10 for 64 weeks and 118 weeks in the top 100. Shortly after its appearance the album went gold in France (over 100,000 sold) and after three months it went platinum (over 350,000 sold). The album also went platinum in Belgium and Switzerland, and gold in Canada. In the same year Kaas won Victoires de la Musique in the category of "Discovery of the Year", one of the most important French music awards.
In 1989 Kaas suffered a traumatic personal experience when her mother fell ill from cancer and died. The teddy bear Kaas sent to support her mother's convalescence today accompanies Kaas everywhere as a mascot.
1990-1992: Scène de vie edit:
In 1990, Kaas began her first world tour which lasted 16 months in total. She sang in front of about 750,000 fans in over 196 concerts in 12 countries. Among others, Kaas sang daily for a week at the Olympia and Zenith, one of the most famous concert halls in Paris. The concerts were sold out four months before they began. Kaas also gave other successful concerts in New York and Washington D.C. in the U.S. At the end of the tour, Mademoiselle chante... had sold 1 million copies in France alone and had achieved diamond status. Kaas received the Goldene Europa, one of the biggest German music awards.
In 1990, Kaas moved from her former record company Polydor to CBS/Sony. Cyril Prieur and Richard Walter of the firm Talent Sorcier from Paris replaced Bernard Schwartz to become her managers in 1987. Prieur and Walter contributed significantly to the singer's success, in return for which Kaas referred to them as her "family".
With a new record company, she produced Scène de vie (Eng: The Stage of Life) in 1990. It reached the top of the French charts and stayed there for 10 weeks, going diamond in the process as Mademoiselle chante... had done before it. With the song Kennedy Rose Kaas again worked with Elisabeth Depardieu and François Bernheim; this collaboration was more successful than Jalouse, reaching 34th place in the French singles charts. The song was dedicated to Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Kennedy clan and mother of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy.
While on the Scène de vie tour, the singer performed 210 concerts before 650,000 spectators in 13 countries, among them Japan, Canada and the USSR, where she sang in Moscow and Leningrad. At the end of 1991 her first live album Carnets de scène (Eng: Stage Notebooks) appeared, which achieved popularity beyond her dedicated fans. 13 years later Sony also published the album as a live DVD.
In 1991, Kaas received two further awards, the World Music Award and a Bambi. In the following year she received 3rd place in the category of 'Best International Female Singer' at the ECHO awards in Cologne, nominated alongside Cher (who received first place), Tina Turner, Madonna and Whitney Houston, four of the biggest names in the music business.
1993-1994: Je te dis vous edit:
Kaas' 1993 album Je te dis vous (Eng.: I address thee as you) was her definitive breakthrough in the international music scene, selling 3 million copies in 47 countries. It was produced in Pete Townshend's Eel Pie Studio in London, England by Robin Millar, who had already worked for Sade and the Fine Young Cannibals. In the U.S. and United Kingdom it appeared under the name of Tour de charme (not to be confused with the live album of the same name). On the album Kaas sang her first song in German: the song Ganz und gar (Eng: Absolutely) came from the pen of the German singer and songwriter Marius Müller-Westernhagen. The album also featured three tracks in English, including a cover of the James Brown number It's A Man's World. The British rock musician Chris Rea accompanied Kaas on the tracks Out Of The Rain and Ceux qui n'ont rien (Eng: Those who have nothing) on guitar.
Je te dis vous is currently Kaas' most successful album in the German-speaking world, only just missing out on the German top 10 (it spent 2 weeks at 11th place), but spending 36 weeks in the top 100. In Switzerland Kaas reached 2nd place in the album charts, and in France 1st. It was her third album to go diamond, 11 months after its appearance. With the single Il me dit que je suis belle (Eng: He tells me I'm beautiful) by Sam Brewski (aka Jean-Jacques Goldman) Kaas achieved her second top five single in France. A remix of Reste sur moi (Eng: Stay on me) reached the top 20 of the US dance charts.
The following world tour covered 19 countries. Among others she was the first western singer to appear in Hanoi, Vietnam after the Vietnam War, and she also toured in Cambodia, Japan, Korea and Thailand. During the tour she also gave a benefit concert in Chernobyl in front of 30,000 spectators. In total her audience counted 750,000 in 150 concerts. In 1994 her second live album Tour de charme (Eng: A tour with charm) was published, which, like Carnets de scène, was remade as a live DVD in 2004.
1995-1996: Black Coffee edit:
In the middle of the 1990s the album Black Coffee was produced, an enigma in Kaas' career. In 1995 it was decided to produce a work specially for the American market containing exclusively English lyrics. Rumours state that the album was never officially sold. It occasionally becomes available in on-line auctions, however, but the authenticity of these records is in doubt.
The title track of the album is a cover version of the Billie Holiday song of the same name and was likewise published by Kaas on the 1997 sampler Jazz à Saint-Germain (release by Virgin). Other cover versions on the album include classics such as the Bill Withers number Ain't No Sunshine (which was taken for advertisement music for the Club Mediterranée) from 1971 and If You Leave Me Now by Chicago from 1976.
1997-1998: Dans ma chair edit:
In 1997 Dans ma chair (Eng: In my flesh) was made. It was produced in New York by Kaas and Phil Ramone, who had previously worked with Ray Charles, Billy Joel and Paul Simon. The album marked the second time the singer officially worked with the French songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman (they began to work together in 1993 for the song "Il me dit que je suis belle".) The collaboration with Goldman, which continues to this day, was one of the most important of Kaas' career.
Further contributors to the success of the album were the American songwriter and singer Lyle Lovett, with the song Chanson simple (Eng: Simple song), and James Taylor with Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, on which he duetted with Kaas. The track Quand j'ai peur de tout (Eng: When I'm afraid of everything), written by Diane Warren, was later remade in 2003 by the band Sugababes under the name Too Lost In You.
In 1998, following the Dans ma chair tour, the live album and video cassette (later a DVD) Rendez-vous was produced. Among the tracks are L'aigle noir (Eng: The black eagle) by the French singer and songwriter Barbara, whom Kaas had admired for a long time.
In December 1998 Kaas sang with the tenors Plácido Domingo and Alejandro Fernández in the Guildhall of Vienna, Austria. The three were accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was made into a CD and DVD in 1999 as Christmas In Vienna Vol. VI.
1999-2000: Le mot de passe edit:
In 1999 Le mot de passe (Eng: The password) was produced by Pascal Obispo, on which Kaas was accompanied by an orchestra on several tracks. Jean-Jacques Goldman again contributed to the making of the studio album, among others with 2 songs Une fille de 'l'Est (Eng: A girl from the East) in which Kaas praised her East French heritage and Les chansons commencent. The French singer Zazie wrote the track J'attends de nous. The song Les éternelles (Eng: The eternals) was also published in Germany as a duet with the Swiss tenor Erkan Aki under the title of Unter der Haut (Eng: Under the skin), and was the theme music of the five-part ZDF serial Sturmzeit (Eng: Stormy Times), based on a book by Charlotte Link.
In June 1999 Kaas appeared at the benefit concert Michael Jackson & Friends in Seoul, South Korea and Munich. Apart from Kaas and Jackson, Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross and Status Quo also put in appearances. The special events, in aid of UNESCO, the Red Cross and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, were broadcast to 39 countries.
In September 1999 Kaas came third in Marianne, a poll for the national symbol of France, behind supermodels Laetitia Casta (first) and Estelle Hallyday (second). Most pictures of Kaas from her last albums (from Dans ma chair to Sexe fort in 2003) show the singer in very figure-accentuating clothes and suitably daring poses, and her music videos are seldom restrained performances.
On the Le mot de passe tour Kaas was accompanied at some concerts in Germany and Switzerland by the Hannover Pops Orchestra of Norddeutscher Rundfunk under the conductor's baton of George Pehlivanian. With this ensemble she was the star guest at, among others, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival of 1999. The concert of 24 July 1999 at the Guildhall Market of Hamburg was broadcast live on the German-French television station Arte. The orchestra can be heard on the 2000 live album Ce sera nous, but is nowhere to be seen on the live DVD.
In 2000 an elaborately produced box set was published, which contained almost all the previous studio albums published by Sony and a comprehensive booklet with numerous pictures. In October 2000 Kaas received the Adenauer-de-Gaulle Award in Berlin.
2001-2002: Piano Bar edit:
In April 2001 Kaas gave a concert before 50,000 spectators on the occasion of Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg's accession from his father Jean. Kaas was again accompanied by a large orchestra, on this occasion the Luxembourg Philharmonic.
In the same year Kaas began her acting career with And now... Ladies and Gentlemen with Jeremy Irons, directed by Claude Lelouch, her record company published the greatest hits album Rien ne s'arrête (Eng: Nothing stops). As it was a greatest hits, only the title track was new.
In 2000, Kaas decided to live in Zürich, Switzerland from then on. This also had consequences for her management, which likewise moved from Paris to Zürich and renamed itself International Talent Consulting. Cyril Prieur and Richard Walter remained by Kaas' side.
To accompany the film the concept album Piano Bar By Patricia Kaas was released in 2002. While not a soundtrack to the film, some songs performed from the film were included on the album in slightly different versions, making up a sort of concept album that was inspired by the movie. The real soundtrack has never been released. Piano Bar... was Kaas' first published album that was sung mainly in English, and is a homage to the great French chanson artists of history. It includes cover versions of Where Do I Begin (originally on the soundtrack to Love Story) and an English version of Jacques Brel's Ne me quitte pas (Eng: Don't leave me), here named If You Go Away. The album in France reached 10th place in the charts, but it was the second most successful of Kaas' albums in Germany, reaching 12 place. In 2002 Kaas again received the Golden Europa.
The Piano Bar Live tour began in September 2002 in France and lasted until April 2003. It included six sell-out concerts in the US, including appearances in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Detroit, as well as at the Beacon Theater in Broadway, New York before 6,000 fans. Despite the intensive efforts of Kaas' fans the tour has not been published as a live album.
2003-2007: Sexe fort edit:
On 1 December 2003 released the album Sexe fort (Eng: Strong gender), reaching the 9th place in France. Again Jean-Jacques Goldman contributed with C'est la faute à la vie (Eng: It's the fault of life) and On pourrait (Eng: We could), which he also produced himself, just as Pascal Obispo, the producer of Le mot de passe, did with L'Abbé Caillou (Eng: The Abbot Caillou). Kaas sang On pourrait as a duet with the Swiss singer Stephan Eicher.
Following the release of Sexe fort Kaas received a particular distinction on 8 December 2003 when she received the First Class Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her contribution to friendship between France and Germany, an honour that until then had been awarded to only a few international artists.
Until the end of 2005 Kaas was on what was now her seventh world tour. In total she performed in 25 countries, including further performances in China and Russia. In all she gave 175 concerts before more than 500,000 spectators. Despite the relative failure of Sexe fort the tour was a huge success.
By the beginning of 2005 the live album accompanying the tour Toute la musique... and the live DVD of the same name had been released, in combination with a 'best of' album. The title track Toute la musique que j'aime (Eng: All the music I love)
was written by the French singer and songwriter Johnny Hallyday. The album contains a bonus track Herz eines Kämpfers (Eng: Heart of a Fighter), which Kaas had worked on together with Peter Plate of the German pop band Rosenstolz. With the TV broadcast of the German auditions for the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 in March of that year, Kaas performed the song for the first time live before an audience of millions.
2008-2010: Kabaret, world tour and Eurovision 2009 edit:
After the end of the Sexe fort tour in November 2005, Kaas took a break until the beginning of 2008, interrupted by only a few live performances. In February 2008, Kaas released the song Ne pozvonish' (You Will Not Call) with the Russian rock group Uma2rman, which was a big hit in Russia.
The new double album, "Kabaret", was released on 30 March 2009. To support her new album, Kaas is currently giving touring France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and other countries during her "Kabaret" tour. Kaas is claimed to be the first international artist to visit 28 Russian cities. The entire tour includes at least 170 dates.
On 28 January 2009 it was confirmed that Kaas would represent France in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, Russia. Kaas' fans took part in an online poll in several countries where they selected their favourite song from her Kabaret album. The song Et s'il fallait le faire (And if it had to be done) received a clear majority of the votes and was then chosen as the lead single and also as the French entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 where on 16 May 2009 she finished in 8th place. The song has received positive reviews in several newspapers and polls and a clear majority of 62% of all voters in a questionnaire believed in her chances to win the competition.
2011: L'ombre de ma voix edit:
In 2011, Kaas' autobiography "L'Ombre de ma Voix" (The Shadow of My Voice) was published in March by Flammarion. This bestseller is sold throughout Europe, and has already been translated into more than 6 languages.
2012-2013: Kaas chante Piaf edit:
"Kaas chante Piaf" meaning "Kaas Sings Piaf" is Patricia Kaas' new project, focusing on 21 of the great Edith Piaf's iconic titles,arranged by Abel Korzeniowski. The new wonder-boy of the Hollywood music scene, ever since his Golden Globe nomination for his work on Tom Ford's "A Single Man", Abel also composed the music for Madonna's W.E.
This show, commemorating 50 years since the death of Piaf, will open at some of the world's most prestigious venues the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New-York, Olympia in Paris, Operetta Theatre in Moscow, Sejong Cultural Center in Seoul, etc.
Although designed primarily as a live show, "Kaas chante Piaf" meaning "Kaas Sings Piaf" will also be released as an album. Revisiting the greatest hits of Edith Piaf, this album is central to Patricia Kaas' tribute to the great French singer.