Tunisian-born French singer Jacqueline Taïeb took influences from London and north Africa to flavour her records of the 1960s. Her Sept heures du matin, in particular, is considered manna for fans of French femme pop.
She was born in Carthage, in Tunisia, in November 1948 and moved to France at the age of eight with her parents. At the age of 12, her father gave her a guitar, which she soon learned to play. She then began composing her own songs.
In 1966 she was offered a contract with the Impact record label. Being a singer-songwriter was unusual at the time – most artists (and certainly almost all of the female singers of the period) performed songs that had been written for them, rather than their own compositions. She cites The Who, Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy and Elvis among her influences at the time.
To her great excitement, she was whisked off to London to record her first EP, which was released in France in January 1967. All four songs on it were composed by the young singer herself. Though the lead track, 7 heures du matin, was only a small hit at the time, it has gone on to become considered a classic of the French girl pop genre. The EP also featured Bienvenue au pays, Ce soir je m’en vais and La plus belle chanson du monde.
7 heures du matin was also translated for release in the UK on the Fontana label in 1968, as 7 am, though, interestingly, it was consigned to the B-side of Tonight I'm going home, a version of Ce soir je m’en vais.
Her second French release followed three months later. The EP featured another four of her own compositions, including the excellent Qu’est-ce qu’on se marre à la fac (often known as La fac de lettres) and La première à gauche, as well as Bientôt tu l’oublieras and Le printemps à Paris. (The latter two tracks were also issued on a single in neighbouring Belgium.)
A third EP led with Bravo, and also included Juste un peu d'amour, On roule à 160 and Le coeur au bout des doigts.
An album, entitled simply Jacqueline Taïeb and containing many of her previous releases, was issued in Canada. Now ultra rare, the LP commands a price of well over £200 on the second-hand markets.
She recorded one more single for Impact, À chacun sa vie, before before switching to EMI/Pathé for 1969’s Bonjour Brésil.
She then surprised the industry by returning to her studies.
It wasn’t until the late 1970s that she began composing again, and artists as diverse as Yves Montand, Michel Fugain, Jeane Manson and Stone et Charden recorded her material.
In the 1980s she wrote Ready to follow you for American singer Dana Dawson, and released a number of records herself, including Je cherche quelqu’un and Les chanteurs disent la vérité.
She released an album in 2005, Jacqueline Taïeb is back, and an EP with the Amsterdam Beatclub in 2006.
With thanks to Tom K White for additional information and to Jacqueline Taïeb for her support.
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