Your (Favourite) PopJustice Rate Archeologist is back, bringing you more greatness from yesteryears! Except this time, we are not focusing on forgotten acts that deserve their time to shine, non Mesdames! Instead, we are rightfully giving a huge global star the spotlight and showing PopJustice what the UK and US Market has failed to reveal to them for over 50 years, La Grande Dame De La Musique Française - Dalida! A little overview of her life and career is below, but we will be covering much more as we rate 36 of her chansons classiques! Born in 1933, little Iolanda Gigliotto grew up in Cairo, Egypt from Italian born parents and had a bit of an ugly duckling beginning, which made her propulsion to superstardom all the more fascinating. At only 10 month old Iolanda contracted an eye infection that caused her to wear bandages over her eyes for 40 days. This led to her having a few eye operations between ages 3 to 5, she had to wear glasses through elementary school, for which she was severely bullied in her early schooling years. In 1940, her docile and loving father was taken by Allied Forces to a Prison Camp and imprisoned for 4 years. Upon his release in 1944, he returned a very violent man who would frequently beat Iolanda, her mother and her brothers. This caused Iolanda to develop a deep hatred for her father (who died in 1945) and the trauma of this ordeal is said to have influenced her subsequent romantic relationships as a woman. She found some comfort in the next few years due to an interest in the theatre, allowing her to express herself creatively. Iolanda’s début in the entertainment industry came through a developing interest she had in acting, which she was exposed to due to her uncle’s job as a projectionist for a local cinema. Iolanda eventually entered the Miss Egypt competition at 21 (this was a great way to be seen by potential star makers). She made waves for appearing in a panther print bikini, and won the competition and title of Miss Egypt 1954. A few film directors had attended the contest and her victory opened the door to her casting in The Mask of Tutankhamun and A Glass and a Cigarette. During this time Iolanda changed her stage name to Dalila. Due to this promising start in Egypt, Dalila decided to try her luck in Paris. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned with that. She attended numerous auditions but failed to secure a role every time. This experience led her to try singing instead. Dalila started taking singing lessons 7 days a week for a while, and once Roland Berger (her tutor) felt she was ready, he organised for her to perform at the famous cabaret Le Drap D’Or on Champs-Elysees. When hired for a series of performances, it was suggested she should change her stage name to Dalida which she was all for. On April 9 1956, Dalida participated in a singing contest with a certain Eddie Barclay in attendance. Eddie was at the time the owner of the largest producing house in France, Barclay Records. So impressed was he by her performance that night he invited Dalida to a formal audition. A few days later she was signed! Our rising star released a couple of EPs, which were successful enough for the record label to try and find her that one record to completely break through. This track was a French adaptation of the winning song of the Festival di Napoli titled Guaglione. Reworked into a little song called Bambino – it quickly received more public interest than any of her previous tracks, eventually becoming a Pop Standard of the 50s in France, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland (more on Bambino’s many achievements when we come to its write-up #bientot!) Her rise to fame continued with acclaimed concerts where she was the opening act for the likes of Charles Aznavour and Gilbert Becaud. On the charts, she continued to dominate with Histoire D’un Amour, however it was her experimenting with the exotica genre with Gondolier that propelled her to iconography with its progressive TV performances during a more conventional era of society (late 50s). Subsequent hits around this time of her career, including Le Jour Ou La Pluie Viendra (translated into German as Am tag als der regen kam, where it became the best selling song of that year) and Les Enfants Du Piree (with its modern for its time music video) caused critics to look at Dalida and French music differently. With the 60s bringing the Ye-Ye genre into the French public consciousness – many were writing Dalida off as a legacy act who would quietly disappear with this new sound and emerging artists like Johnny Hallyday. To this, our star retaliated by covering the massive US hit Itsi bitsi bikini which became one of the biggest hits of her career, and introduced her to a new generation of fans. The rest of the sixties saw Dalida adapt a few more international classics for her markets (including La Danse De Zorba, Bang Bang and Le Temps Des Fleurs). Already a massive star, it came across a little shocking when Dalida decided to perform in the Sanremo Music Festival (which she had declined in previous years) but since she was in a relationship with Luigi Tenco at the time, it made sense to do so. Ciao Amore Ciao was written and composed by Tenco, however Dalida’s rendition was much better received since Tenco performed under a combination of stage fright and alcohol influence. They were both eliminated from this round of the competition however. The following night, Tenco was found dead by Dalida. He left a suicide note that this was in protest to a bribed jury causing his elimination. Deeply troubled by this event, Dalida herself entered a deep depression and tried to commit suicide a month later. She ended up in hospital and in a coma for five days. Once the news broke, her worldwide public was stunned and her career put on a hiatus that lasted only 3 months. When Dalida eventually returned to the Spotlight, she began to favour songs with profound lyrics and would choose to perform songs that were more meaningful to her at her concerts. Dalida and her brother Orlando had been toying with the idea of starting their own record house for a while, and the opportunity to do so presented itself when Dalida’s contract was due for renewal in early 1970. The first record Dalida released under this independent leg International Shows was Darla Dirladada, which broke some records in terms of first week sales for its time. Her change in direction was not initially well received with Bruno Coquatrix, owner of the Olympia (her frequent Parisian concert venue) and he refused to produce one of her shows but our Queen rented and paid for the venue herself. After the show was critically acclaimed, critics calling Dalida ‘The Queen Of The Theatre’ and ‘a modern Phaedra’- Mr Coquatrix invited Dalida to return at any time, without paying a single cent. The early 70s saw Dalida travel to Asia, Canada, Europe, Lebanon and Latin America for a series of concerts, where she would predominantly perform songs she would select for their poetic value, expressing the natural emotions she carried around this time rather than commercial appeal. Songs likes Avec Le Temps and Je Suis Malade became staples of her repertoire, while a collaboration with Dalida’s former neighbour Alain Delon (a little song called Paroles Paroles) became an instant sensation. The mid 70s brought us the magical Gigi L’Amoroso and a song detailing a relationship Dalida had with a younger man years earlier called Il Venait D’Avoir Dix-Huit Ans. Behind this particular relationship was a situation that caused Dalida great grief. She became pregnant with this younger man’s child but decided to have an abortion. At the time, abortions were illegal in both France and Italy, and the botched procedure she received left her unable to ever have children. The mid to late 70s saw Dalida bring the disco genre to France with the hit J’Attendrai for which she is credited for bringing French Disco into existence. The popularity of variety shows was also increasing around this time, which resulted in Dalida appearing on TV on an almost weekly basis to perform her hits. Besame Mucho was the follow up single during this era and achieved great success. This more dance oriented style saw Dalida release music that had ties to her roots, creating songs such as what it credited as the first Raï hit in the world Salma Ya Salama. Originally sung in Arabic, Dalida performed it in French, Italian and German as well. Continuing to tour around the world, Dalida decided to include the USA as well for her late 70s tour. This show, mostly attended by French citizens received acclaim, and the experience creatively inspired Dalida. In 1979, Dalida released the biggest Disco hit of her career with Monday, Tuesday… Laissez Moi Danser, entering the 80s with very much a disco/dance flair. A sequel to Gigi L’Amoroso called Gigi in Paradisco followed, with her concerts choreographed by Saturday Night Fever’s Lester Wilson and becoming more elaborate with costume changes, and many dancers. Through the 70s, Dalida was dating Richard Chandray but by the early 80s, that relationship was coming to an end and songs A Ma Maniere and Fini La Comedie gave us some insight into her sadness at that point in time. Richard’s suicide in 1983 (only two years after their break-up) would be another event to have a very profound effect on Dalida’s remaining years. Dalida started to distance herself from Disco and veered more towards Dance Pop as French clubs were starting to favour this sound. A little B-Side from this era called Mourir Sur Scene was released to little fanfare until later events would bring it some perspective. Mid 80s saw the release of Kalimba De Luna and Soleil, however issues with Dalida’s health made her unable to promote to the extent she usually did. Her eye problems returned due to her constant exposure to stage lights and underwent two major eye operations in 1985. By the end of the 1985 and a jaw-dropping 694 songs under her belt, Dalida decided she was no longer interested in recording new material and instead focused on her concerts performing her many hits. She kept this up until her suicide on May 3rd 1987. “La Vie M’est Insupportable… Pardonnez-Moi.” A massive tragedy, and still one of the most horrific moments in French Music history – Dalida’s life and tragic death have left a jaw dropping legacy that ties her to French music in an incredibly eerie fashion. Since her death, Dalida has been commemorated by numerous artists in many forms, notably Place Dalida with a statue of her was established in Paris. She is one of only three women to have such a statue in France, along with Joan of Arc and Sarah Bernhardt. Over the course of this rate we will cover many moments not mentioned here (such as her many, many certifications and chart impact). #Bientot we will crown her best moment among the 36 selected for PopJustice to experience the wonder that is Dalida! Join us and celebrate A Sa Maniere!