16 june 1969

Bénabar (real name: Bruno Nicolini) was born and raised in the southern Parisian suburb Essonne. His mother ran a bookshop and his father was an assistant producer in the cinema. He began to learn the trumpet at the age of eight. He began his artistic career in the cinema, working as an assistant on 'Le Brasier' (1991) and directed three short subjects 'Nada Lezard' (1991), 'Sursum corda' (1994) and 'José Jeannette' (1992). He then turned to music in being a more flexible method of expression then film. He started working for some time with his friend Patchol who gave him his nickname (Bénabar being an abbreviation of the name of the clown Barnabé). With 'Les Associés' he sang for several years in small places in France, Belgium, Switzerland before releasing their first album ‘La petite monnaie’ in January 1998 on Zébuth, an independent label (distributed by Night & Day).

It had modest success but secured a deal with Universal music where Bénabar created his own production unit: Pétaouchnok. 'Bénabar', the album, was released on 18 September 2001 and was an instant success with both the public and music critics alike. Even colleagues were impressed under whom Henri Salvador who invited him to be the support act for his 2002 tour. With over 140 dates in the tour it was a huge platform for the French public to get to know Bénabar.

After the tiresome tour Bénabar almost immediately released a new album ‘Les Risques du Métier’, recorded in Brussels where he lives half the time. The album was nominated as a revelation for the 'Victoires de la musique 2003' but did not win. In 2004 he took revanche and won the award for the album 'Chanson/variété' of the year'. In 2004 his son Manolo was born. The follow up album showed a more mature Bénabar, with autobiographical lyrics about his childhood. ‘Triste compagne’, ‘Tu peux compter sur moi’ and ‘Maritie & Gilbert Carpentier’ are examples. In 2007 he won the awards for 'Male group or artist of the year' and 'Original song of the year' (for 'Le diner'). In 2011 Bénabar returns with 'Les bénéfices du doute', an album produces by Jean-Louis Piérot. He takes a new musical direction, leaving out the brass, and focus on banjo and harmonica.

On the web:

- Bénabar's website: www.benabar.com
- Biography: http://www.rfimusique.com/siteen/biographie/biographie_7084.asp

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What do we think:

PR: Together with Benjamin Biolay and Miossec, Bénabar is one of the new leage of French singer/songwriters. He is a very cute guy with an expressive, radiant stage personality. His musical style is very recognisable, but might seem somewhat limited to build a long lasting carreer with. On the other hand, with every new album he succeeds in further developing his style and they always sound frech and interesting. No wonder madame Gréco chose him to write her a song.

DB: Bénabar makes a unique mix that has influences from French Chanson and French fanfare music. This cocktail results in a musical style that always a some sort of merry undertone in it, while the lyrics can tell about small kitchensink drama. The use of accordion and trumpet give it a feel as if Bénabar's albums have been record at a country fair. On of the better and interesting talents from France.


♪♪♪ - La p'tite monnaie - 1997

♪♪♪ - Bénabar - 2001

♪♪♪♪ - Les risques du métier - 2003

♪♪♪ - Live au Grand Rex – 2004

♪♪♪♪ - Reprise des négociations -  2005

♪♪♪♪ - Infréquentable - 2008

♪♪½ - Les bénifices du doute - 2011

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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