Marie Laforêt (born Maïténa Marie Brigitte Doumenach, on 5 October 1939, in Soulac-sur-Mer, Gironde) is a French singer and actress. In 1978, she moved to Geneva, Switzerland and took out Swiss nationality.
Her first name Maïtena, which is of Basque origin, means "beloved", and is sometimes used by the inhabitants of Languedoc, especially of Pyrénées and also resembles the diminutive of the name Marie-Thérèse, "Maïthé".
Doumenach, her last name, is Catalan in origin – Domènec in Catalan. Her birth name Maïtena Marie Brigitte Doumenach, and her repertoire which included pieces inspired from the world folklore, have led to speculation of anArmenian origin of her parents. The singer herself used to define herself sometimes as "ariégeoise", i.e. from the region of Ariège in the south of France.
Marie Laforêt was born at Soulac-sur-Mer, in Médoc, in the villa "Rithé-Rilou", named after her aunt and her mother: Marie Thérese and Marie Louise Saint Guily. Her father's family, Doumenach, were originally from Olette, a village in thePyrénées Orientales, on the border of Têt. Her paternal great-grandfather, Louis Doumenach, led a textile factory at Lavelanet, in Ariège and his son, Charles-Joseph Doumenach, was colonel and municipal counsellor.
The singer's maternal grandfather built "cabanons" in the resort of Soulac-sur-mer, in Gironde in 1886. During the Second World War, the artist's father, industry man, was captured and detained as a prisoner of war in Germany until the liberation in May 1945. Marie, her sister Alexandra and their mother knew a period of many hardships. At the age of three Marie suffered a sexual trauma which affected her for longtime. During the war the Doumenachs found shelter at Cahors and in the province of their ancestors Ariège, in the village Lavelanet. After the war the family moved to Valenciennes where the father led a factory for railways utensils, and later they settled in Paris. After becoming more religious and having considered becoming a nun, Marie continued her secondary studies at the Lycee La Fontaine in Paris. There she began to show interest for the dramatic arts and her first experiences in this domain proved to be therapeutically useful for her through their cathartic effect.
Her career began accidentally in 1959 when she replaced her sister at the last minute in a French radio talent contest Naissance d'une étoile (birth of a star) and won. Director Louis Malle then cast the young starlet in the film he was shooting at the time, Liberté, a project he finally abandoned, making Laforêt's first appearance on screen opposite actor Alain Delon in René Clément's 1960 drama Plein Soleil.
After this film she became very popular and interpreted many roles in the 1960s. She married director Jean-Gabriel Albicocco, who cast her in some of his own works, including La Fille aux Yeux d'Or (The Girl with the Golden Eyes), based on the Balzac story, which would become her nickname.
In her second film, Saint Tropezi Blues, accompanied by a young Jacques Higelin at the guitar, she sang the title song and immediately started releasing singles, her first hit being 1963's Les Vendanges de l'Amour. Her songs offered a more mature, poetic, tender alternative to the light, teenage yé-yé tunes charting in France at the time. Her melodies borrowed more from exotic folk music, especially South American and Eastern European, than from contemporary American and British pop acts. Laforêt worked with many important French composers, musicians and lyricists, such as André Popp and Pierre Cour, who provided her with a panoply of colorful, sophisticated orchestral arrangements, featuring dozens of musical instruments and creating a variety of sounds, sometimes almost Medieval, Renaissance or Baroque, other times quite modern and innovative.
At the end of the 1960s, Marie had become a rather distinctive figure in the French pop scene. Her music stood out, perhaps too much for her new label CBS Records, which expected of her more upbeat, simpler songs. She was interested in making more personal records, but finally gave in. Although her most financially successful singles ("Viens, Viens", a cover of the German hit ″Rain Rain Rain″, and "Il a neigé sur Yesterday", a ballad about the break-up of the Beatles) were released in the 1970s, Marie progressively lost interest in her singing career, moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 1978, where she opened an art gallery and abandoned music.
In the 1980s, Marie concentrated on her acting career, appearing in a few French and Italian films. Some music singles were eventually released, but were not popular. She made a comeback, however, in 1993 with her final album, for which she wrote the lyrics. In the 1990s, she again continued to work as an actress, both on screen and on stage. She has performed in a number of plays in Paris over the years, acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. In September 2005, she sang once again, going on tour in France for the first time since 1972. Every concert was sold out. Laforêt still currently resides in Geneva and has obtained Swiss citizenship.
Marie Laforêt, the folk singer
Laforêt has been fond of folk music ever since she began recording in the early 1960s. She helped popularize the Bob Dylan song "Blowin' in the Wind" in France with her 1963 interpretation. On the B-side of the same EP she sings the classic American folk ballad "House of the Rising Sun". Other folk recordings include: "Viens sur la montagne", a 1964 French adaptation of the African-American spiritual "Go Tell It on the Mountain", recorded by American folk trioPeter, Paul and Mary the previous year, "Coule doux" (Hush-a-Bye), another Peter, Paul and Mary song, 1966's "Sur les chemins des Andes", a French version of the traditional Peruvian song "El Cóndor Pasa", and "La voix du silence", a 1966 cover of American duo Simon and Garfunkel's first hit, "The Sound of Silence".
Marie Laforêt, the rocker
She also recorded some rock songs in the 1960s, her most famous being "Marie-douceur, Marie-colère", a 1966 cover of the Rolling Stones hit "Paint It Black". Another popular recording was 1965's girl group-style "A demain, my darling", known by English-speakers as "The Sha La La Song" written by Marianne Faithfull on her debut eponymous album.
Marie Laforêt, the pop singer
Some of her most memorable pop songs are those written or arranged by French composer André Popp, such as "Entre toi et moi", "L'amour en fleurs", "Les noces de campagne", "Mon amour, mon ami", and "Manchester et Liverpool". The melody of the latter song gained fame in the former Soviet Union as the background music to the Vremya television news programme's weather forecast in the 1970s.
Other important records
The quiet, bittersweet and minimally arranged ballad "Je voudrais tant que tu comprennes" (1966), composed by Francis Lai, is a Marie Laforêt favorite. Homage was paid to the song in the 1980s when French pop superstar Mylène Farmer added it to her own concert repertoire.
The 1973 hit "Viens, viens" was a cover version of a German song "Rain, Rain, Rain" performed by Simon Butterfly.
Marie's 1977 hit "Il a neigé sur Yesterday", perhaps her most well-known recording, was penned by musician Jean-Claude Petit, and lyricist Michel Jourdan, (famous for his work with Dalida, Nana Mouskouri, Michel Fugain and Mike Brant) and who had written the words for earlier Laforêt songs, such as "Les vendanges de l'amour" and "L'orage".
1960s singles and EPs
- 1960 : Saint-Tropez Blues / Tumbleweed
- 1963 : Tu fais semblant – Les vendanges de l'amour / Mary Ann – Les jeunes filles
- 1963 : Blowin' in the Wind – Flora / House of the Rising Sun – Banks on the Ohio
- 1963 : Au coeur de l'automne – L'amour en fleurs / Qu'est-ce qui fait pleurer les filles – Mais si loin de moi
- 1963 : La vendemmia dell'amore – E giusto / Una noia senza fine – Che male c'e
- 1964 : Viens sur la montagne – Les noces de campagne / Un amour qui s'éteint – L'amour qu'il fera demain
- 1964 : La tendresse – La plage / Après toi qui sait – L'arbre qui pleure
- 1965 : Katy cruelle – Entre toi et moi / La bague au doigt – Ma chanson faite pour toi
- 1965 : Ah ! Dites, dites – Julie Crèvecoeur / Viens – À demain my darling
- 1965 : La plage / Après toi, qui sait
- 1966 : La voix du silence (The Sound of Silence) – Siffle, siffle ma fille / Je t'attends – L'orage
- 1966 : Marie-douceur, Marie-colère (Paint It Black) – Toi qui dors / Je voudrais tant que tu comprennes – La moisson
- 1966 : Manchester et Liverpool – Pourquoi ces nuages / Prenons le temps – Sur les chemins des Andes
- 1966 : Mon amour, mon ami – Sébastien / Je suis folle de vous – Mon village au fond de l'eau
- 1967 : Ivan, Boris et moi – Je ne peux rien promettre / Pour celui qui viendra – Tom
- 1968 : Le lit de Lola – Qu'y-a-t-il de changé / Et si je t'aime – A la gare de Manhattan
- 1968 : El polo – L'air que tu jouais pour moi / Le tengo rabia al silencio – House of the rising sun
- 1968 : Que calor la vida – Mais mon coeur est vide / La valse des petits chiens blancs – Requiem pour trois mariages
- 1969 : Au printemps – Roselyne / Feuilles d'or – D'être à vous
- 1969 : Pour une étoile – Ton coeur sauvage / Vin de l'été – En plus de l'amour
- 1969 : Ah ! Si mon moine – On n'oublie jamais / Tourne, tourne – La fleur sans nom
- 1969 : Tu es laide / Toi, nos enfants et moi
- 1964 : Marie Laforêt
- 1965 : Marie Laforêt Vol. 2
- 1967 : Marie Laforêt Vol. 3
- 1968 : Marie Laforêt Vol. 4
- 1968 : Que calor la vida
- 1969 : Marie Laforêt Vol. 6
- 1970 : Marie Laforêt Vol. 7