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Genre : French

Mireille Mathieu is a French chanteuse, and pop singer. Hailed in the French press as the successor to Édith Piaf, she has achieved great commercial success, recording over 1200 songs in nine different languages, with more than 120 million records sold worldwide.

First public appearances

Mathieu began her career by participating in singing contests. Her private singing lessons were from Madame Laure Collière, who was also a piano teacher in Avignon. Self described as very stubborn in her autobiography, she wrote about singing love songs that the audience thought were inappropriate for a young girl. Thus, losing to Michèle Torr in 1962 during Avignon's first On Chante dans mon Quartier contest, and losing again in 1963. In 1964, though, she won the event with the Édith Piaf song "La Vie en rose." Her win got her a pre-audition on the televised talent show Jeu de la Chance in Paris, on which amateur singers competed for audience votes. Her participation and train fare, arranged by Raoul Colombe, the deputy mayor of Avignon. Accompanied by a pianist and dressed in black, like Piaf, she sang two Piaf songs to the audition judges and left dispirited. Non-French cannot hear it, but Parisians at the studio made fun of her Provençal accent, and her dyslexia scrambled words. For example, her sister and current manager, Monique is called "Matite" because Mireille couldn't pronounce "petite" as a child.

During a 1965 summer gala, added to the Enrico Macias concert by Raoul Colombe (her first manager), she met her future manager Johnny Stark. Mireille and her father both thought he was an American based on his mannerisms, and they nicknamed him l'Américain. Stark had worked with singers such as Yves Montand, and the relationship between him and Mathieu is often described as resembling that between Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley. Stark is credited with making her a star and the successor to Piaf. By 1968, under his careful management, she was France's most popular singer.

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