Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Sylvie Vartan was born in Iskretz

Sylvie Vartan (born 15 August 1944) is a French singer. She is known as one of the most productive and tough-sounding yé-yé artists. Her performances often featured elaborate show-dance choreography, and she made many appearances on French and Italian TV. Yearly shows with then-husband Johnny Hallyday attracted full houses at the Olympia and the Palais des congrès de Paris throughout the 1960s and mid-1970s. In 2004, after a break in performances, she began recording and giving concerts of jazz ballads in francophone countries.

Vartan was born in Iskretz, Sofia Province, Bulgaria. Her father, Georges Vartan, was born in France to an Armenian father and a Bulgarian mother. He worked as an attaché at the French embassy in Sofia. Her mother, Ilona (née Mayer), was Hungarian. The original family name was Vartanian, but her parents shortened it to Vartan after they fled to France. In September 1944, when the Soviet Army occupied Bulgaria, the Vartanian family house was nationalised and they moved to Sofia. In 1952, Dako Dakovski, a film director and her fathers' friend offered Sylvie a role of a schoolgirl in the movie Pod igoto. The film was about Bulgarian rebels against the Turkish occupation. Being a part of the film had a lasting impression on her and made her dream of becoming an entertainer.

The privations of the postwar Bulgaria made the family emigrate to Paris in December 1952. At first they stayed in the Lion d'Argent hotel near Les Halles, where Georges found a job. The family stayed in a single room at the Angleterre Hotel for the following four years. Young Sylvie had to work hard to keep up at school and to assimilate with her schoolmates. She learned French in two years. In 1960 her family moved to an apartment in Michel Bizot Avenue. Thanks to the example of her music producer brother Eddie, music became teenage Sylvie's main interest. Her most influential genres were jazz and, out of spite toward her strict high school, rock 'n' roll. Her favourites included Brenda Lee, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.