Charles Aznavour (born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in 1924, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris) is a French and Armenian singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Aznavour is known for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. He has appeared in more than sixty movies, composed about a thousand songs (including at least 150 in English, 100 in Italian, 70 in Spanish, and 50 in German), and sold well over 100 million records.
He is one of France's most popular and enduring singers. He has been dubbed France's Frank Sinatra, while music critic Stephen Holden has described Aznavour as "French pop deity." He is also arguably the most famous Armenian of his time. In 1998, Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. He was recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
He has sung for presidents, popes and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events. In response to the 1988 Armenian earthquake, he founded the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresario Levon Sayan. In 2009, he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva. He started his most recent tour in 2014.
Aznavour's big break came in 1946 when the singer Édith Piaf heard him sing and arranged to take him with her on tour in France and to the United States.
Aznavour sings in many languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, Portuguese, Neapolitan), which has helped him perform at Carnegie Hall, in the USA, and other major venues around the world. He also recorded at least one song from the 18th century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, and a popular song, Im Yare in Armenian. Que C'est Triste Venise, sung in French, Italian (Com'è Triste Venezia), Spanish (Venecia Sin Ti), English (How Sad Venice Can Be), and German (Venedig in Grau), is one of Aznavour's most famous multilingual songs.
In 1974, Aznavour became a major success in the United Kingdom where his song "She" went to Number One in the charts. His other well-known song in the UK was "Dance in the Old Fashioned Way".
Artists who have recorded his songs and collaborated with Aznavour include Édith Piaf, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra (Aznavour was one of the rare European singers invited to duet with him), Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan (he named Aznavour among the greatest live performers he's ever seen), Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Dalida, Serge Gainsbourg, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, José Carreras, Nana Mouskouri and Julio Iglesias. Fellow French pop legend Mireille Mathieu has sung and recorded with Aznavour on numerous occasions. In 1974, Jack Jones recorded an entire album of Aznavour compositions entitled "Write Me A Love Song, Charlie", re-released on CD in 2006. Aznavour and Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti sang Gounod's aria Ave Maria together. He performed with famed Russian cellist and friend Mstislav Rostropovich to inaugurate the French presidency of the European Union in 1995. One of Aznavour's greatest friends and collaborators from the music industry is legendary Spanish operatic tenor Plácido Domingo, who often performs his hits.
At 90, Aznavour is in excellent health, although admittedly 60 years on stage have made him "a little hard of hearing". He still sings in multiple languages and without persistent use of teleprompters, but typically sticks to just two or three (French and English being the primary two, with Spanish or Italian being the third) during most concerts. On 30 September 2006, Aznavour performed a major concert in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia to start off the cultural season "Arménie mon amie" in France.
Enjoy Charles Aznavour's unique style!
Au creux de mon épaule
De t'avoir aimée
Yesterday When I Was Young (with Shirley Bassey)
Il faut savoir
J'aime Paris au mois de mai
I Love Paris-There Is A Time (with Tom Jones)
J'en déduis que je t'aime
Les plaisirs démodés
Non, je n'ai rien oublié
Paris au mois d'août
Que c'est triste Venise
Sur ma vie
Between us (Entre nous)
I have lived (J'ai vécu) (From "An evening with Charles Aznavour")