French singer Christie Laume was the sister-in-law of Édith Piaf and gained musical experience thanks to the musical legend. She went on to release several EPs in the
mid-to-late 1960s, which, though not hits, have found lasting popularity.
Christie Laume was born Christina Lamboukas on 4 February 1942 in Paris and grew up in a suburb of the French capital.
She began singing at an early age with her older brother, Theo, and performed for her family from the age of just three. At seven she gained her first public exposure when she sang on the radio in a children’s show.
From the age of 17 she trained as a beautician, but her fortune changed in October 1962 when her brother (by now known as Théo Sarapo) married French musical legend Édith Piaf. The newly weds invited the would-be singer to live with them in their flat overlooking the Bois de Boulogne. “Suddenly because of them, I was living a life of a celebrity without being one,” she says.
While she lived with them, Piaf asked to hear her sing, and gave her a role singing in the opening act of several of her concerts and touring with her. Piaf also gave her a more French-sounding name, Christie Laume. During this period she made her television debut.
However, Piaf died a year after the wedding, and it was left to Christie’s brother to give her the encouragement she needed to build on the experience she’d gained.
She had to wait three years until, in 1966, she was offered a recording contract with the Barclay label. J’ai besoin de toi became the lead track of her debut EP.
It failed to attract much attention and she switched labels, to Odéon, in 1967. Her first release for the new label was issued shortly afterwards. The title track of the EP was the exuberant La musique et la danse, which Christie had co-written. She also helped pen Agathe ou Christie, whose lyrics were packed with rather clever jeux de mots. L’adorable femme des neiges, also featured on the EP, has also gone on to find favour with fans of French femme pop.
Pas de nouvelles was chosen as the lead track of her follow-up EP, though the fabulous fuzz-guitar-heavy Rouge-rouge is considered the standout track of the four on the release. She had performed the latter at Antibes's Rose d'or (Golden rose) festival that year.
She also joined top star Richard Anthony for a duet on his Le grand meaulnes EP. Their duet, Comment tu fais, was a version of Lee Hazelwood’s Sand.
Her final EP, issued in 1968, saw her return to the Barclay label and led with the organ-heavy Ce qu'il fait chaud. All four songs on the release had been penned by well-known writers such as Michel Jourdan and Pierre Delanoë. However, even this impeccable pedigree couldn’t propel the singer into the upper reaches of the charts.
In 1969, she met her future husband who was serving in the United States Air Force. The pair moved to the US, where Christie had two children. After turning her back on her pop beginnings, she later became a devout Christian.
She is currently writing a biography of her brother’s life, another on Edith Piaf and an autobiography.
With thanks to Matthew Meek for additional sound files.
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