For english speakers

Born in France, her parents originating from Martinique and Grenada, growing up in Belgium, VIKTOR LAZLO has been at the cultural crossroads all her life. Raised in English and French at home, at the European school she attended, she learned Italian, German, Dutch and Spanish. Attracted to the performing arts since her childhood, she learned the violin and followed dance classes. While going to the university to study history of the arts, she was drawn into the Brussels music scene and started to sing with various groups just for the fun of it. After a brief spell as a model, her musical career really got going when Alain Chamfort picked the unknown Viktor to sing the title song he had composed for a French movie ''Backdoor Man''.

Then she met a Belgian producer in a club and they started working on her debut album ''She'', released in 1985, established her as a much sought-after star. The classy blend of Latin, pop, soul and jazz was shown to perfection on her first hit ''Sweet, Soft and Lazy'', which gained worldwide attention.
Her husky, seductive voice, stunning attractiveness and inimitable musical personality brought her success right from the start, especially in such territories as the Far East, Japan, Continental Europe and Canada. She developed her unique style on subsequent albums : ''Viktor Lazlo'' (1987), ''Hot And Soul'' (1989) and ''My Delicious Poisons'' (1991).
On those records she collaborated with a very varied - to say the least - bunch of composers and musicians : Chris Rea, the Count Basie Orchestra, James Ingram, Stephan Waggershausen, Johnny Griffin, Bernard Lavilliers, Toots Thielemans.

1987, she presented the Eurovision Song Contest and was considered the winner by many ... 
1988 was a very important year as her son Maxime was born. Still she managed to combine motherhood and professional life. During 5 years she spent a lot of time time on the road, promoting her records and touring extensively all over Europe, Canada, Japan and South East Asia. When the promotion and the tour around the release of  ''My delicious poisons'' ended, Viktor wanted to branch out in other directions.

In 1990, she had already made her acting debut in ''Signe de Feu'', directed by Italian Nino Bizarri, and in the comedy ''Boom Boom'', by Spanish director Rosa Verges. Over the next years, the music took a step back.
She starred also in an episode of ''Commissaire Moulin'', a very popular french TV series. In 1994 she shot a film in Tahiti with French stars Gerard Jugnot and Jean-Marc Barr: ''Les Faussaires''.
In 1995, she appeared in the successful French tv-series ''Sandra, princess rebelle'' which aired on TF1. She played a part in a German tv-movie (in German ! ''Unser Man)''. 
And to finish the year, she played in 2 more French films : ''Tous pour un'' and ''Mardi, 15 heures,  Vanneau''.
However, the music is finally claimed its rightful place back. A tour in Germany with Maggie Reilly and Juliane Werding made Viktor realise that she missed music very much.
So, if for the past few years Viktor had been concentrating on filmwork, the urge to sing and go on tour became very strong again since the direct contact with the audience has always been a powerful motivation.

During 1997, Viktor has been a regular in the Saturday night TV-show ''La fureur …'' for french TV. She also recorded 2 songs for the German TV series ''Der König von St Pauli'', and ''Besame Mucho'' for a German film. 
Her CD ''Back to front'' was recorded at Compass Point in Nassau (with Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, plus Bernie Worrell as the rhythm section) produced by Eric Clermontet, a French producer with an impeccable track record. With musicians of that calibre, it is clear that rhythm and groove are very important elements of the new songs. But Viktor would not be Viktor if the lyrics were not about love in all its aspects .
Songs have been provided by a.o. Albert Hammond or made in collaboration with Andre Manoukian and Art Mengo, with Viktor writing a lot of the lyrics .

Spring 1999 she released a duet with Biagio Antonacci ''Message'', which became gold in Belgium and was breaking in France.
Later that year, as well as during a part of 2000, Viktor used another of her talents, and made her debut theaterwise in Paris in play entitled ''Hotel des deux mondes'' written by Eric Emannuel Schmitt, and directed by Marcel Roussel. The play was the event of that theaterseason in Paris with Viktor in a leading role. For which she got very good reviews in the French- and international press (Herald Tribune, Variety).

The second record ( ''Amour(s) "), was released in Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, Austria) in October 2002. Followed by Japan early 2003. 

Since than, Viktor has been working on 2 records simultaneously. One is the soundtrack of her show entitled ''Loin de Paname'' which opened on Oct 1st 2002 in Paris for 2 consecutive months in Théatre de Ménilmontant. The show is based on pre WW-II songs, performed live with Cuban musicians. Polydor France released the soundtrack in the meantime. The rest of Europe followed 2003, the moment the show will start to tour.
To be continued... 




VIKTOR LAZLO
French and Belgian very stylish and haute-couture laid-back singer.


Most of the time dressed in splendid robes by the famous French designers (Thierry Muggler...), this female singer brings out a lot of records filled with easy-listening music. Her music reminds of nightclubs and prewar American films, and is mostly a mix of jazz and more mainstream pop influences.






Viktor Lazlo was born in October 7, 1960 as Sonia Dronnier in Lorient, France (from a father from Martinique and a mother from Grenada) came to study in Belgium (Mol) and model in Brussels. There she was "discovered" by Belgian producer Francis Depryck (the man who also made Plastic Bertrand & had success himself as Two Man Sound & Lou & The Hollywood Bananas).
He retells that story in "Wit-lof from Belgium". "One day I met the beautiful and exotic girl Sonja in the nightclub "Le Mirano" in Brussels. She wore a mini-skirt and had really long legs and a beautiful ass. I asked her if the quality of her legs corresponded with that of her vocal abilities. She said fuck off. In the end she finally did do backing vocals for Lou & the Hollywood Bananas. In one take! I was stunned and immediately knew we had to do something together."

With Lou Depryck she records a duet "Casanova (in french) -aka- Oh, Look at me now (english version)", and then Alain Chamfort asked her to perform the song "Backdoor man" for the soundtrack of the film "A Mort L'Arbitre".

Depryck rebaptised her to Viktor Lazlo, asked some songwriters to produce glamorous and jazzy songs and portrayed her in a "Casablanca"-atmosphere - hence the name - for the album "She". The album became an overnight success, and fell just short of platinum in Belgium. It went on to sell over 100,000 copies in Germany and 60,000 in Japan. "Pleurer des rivières" (a cover "Cry me a river" of Julie London) and "Canoë Rose" become stylish hits in France.
She is a polyglot (knows a lot of languages) and has recorded in English (e.g. Backdoor man, loser, Last call for an angel, Breathless...), French (Pleurer des rivières...) and Spanish (Ansiedad).

About her mysterious artist name , she later told Bettie Mellaerts in De Morgen :
"I've been wondering for 15 years already why I chose Viktor Lazlo as a pseudonym: it took me years to figure it out: My parents had a daughter, but wanted a son. My mother cried when I was born, not another girl ... That's the sort of thing you carry with you in your life, and I did that with my name. I wanted to confirm the male part of me, to cover my female side: Sonia stayed at home, was introverted, shy, loved to cook, sat in front of the fireplace; While Viktor stood on stage, was brave, vindictive, played the role everybody wanted her to".
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After Sandra Kim had won the Eurovision songfestival in the year 1986, with the dreaded "J'aime j'aime la vie", it was Viktor Lazlo who presented the television show from Brussels the year after.
She did it - of course - in style, very "haute-couture".

"Breathless" is a cooperation with James Ingram, the American singer who got his five minutes of fame with another duet, with Michael McDonald "Yah mo b there". "Breathless" is a composition by Viktor Lazlo and Philippe Allaert, who later went on to join the international renowned group Vaya Con Dios. In 1986 and 1987, she can go on tour in Japan no less than four times
In 1989 - she swapped Brussels for Paris - as she later said "I left Belgium at the height of my career, out of an instinct for survival, a necessity to put myself at risk, not to profit from things already accomplished. Reaching the top didn't mean I was satisfied: I had wanted a child since I was 23 and had promised myself I would devote myself to it as soon as it was financially viable".

Consequently, she slipped out of the picture in Belgium a bit, but instead slowly but surely gained a more prominent place in the French showbizz.



In 1990 she recorded with Boris Bergman, who writes her the album "Club Désert" with Serge Gainsbourg and Bernard Lavilliers. Most remarkeable tracks on that album are "Amour puissance six" (the song of Gainsbourg), "Baisers", "Hot and Soul", a cover of "Le grisbi" and many more.






1991 she staged a new collaboration with the same Bernard Lavilliers (with whom she shares a birthday), who produced the album "Mes poisons délicieux" (french version) / "My delicious poisons)" (english version) for which other authors are Françoise Hardy, Chris Réa, David Linx and André Manoukian. Best known songs from this album are "La ballade de Lisa" and the delicious "Teach me to dance".



In between, she also was asked to sing on numerous duets with other singers: e.g. Amedeo Minghi ("Vattene Amore" in 1991), Juliane Werding & Maggie Reilly ("Engel wie du" in 1994), with Stefan Waggershausen ("Das erste mal tat's noch weh" in 1990, "Jesse" ), Xavier Deluc ("Baiser Sacré" in 1991), or albums of befriended artists (e.g. David Linx, Khadja Nin ...).

It takes until 1996 for a next album to appear "Verso"(french version) / "Back to Front" (english version) with "Babe" as the first single. The album cover features a nude backside of Viktor Lazlo (a much searched item on the internet, according the search results on her name), with jewels of Christian Lacroix in her hair. This album was recorded for Warner France, on a budget that allowed her to go and record abroad: the studio she chose was the Compass Point, on a beautiful beach in the Bahamas. Among the guest musicians were notably Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespear (Sly & Robbie) on bass and rhythms. 
This resulted in a CD with lots more funk and dub than previoiusly, which led her to say in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad "I'm thrilled. An entire day of interviews, and no one has asked a thing about my clothes. For the first time in my career, they aren't taling about beauty or fashion, but about music. For the first time they are really interested in my music."

Gradually, she then started to devote more of her time to acting (in movies - e.g. Sandra Princesse rebelle, Boom Boom, Signe de Feu, Joe et Marie, Les Faussaires - for television - e.g. Navarro, Le goût des fraises, Le secret d'Iris - and in the theater - e.g. Black Lulu, "Hotel des deux mondes"), with an occasional appearance on a new duet in between (e.g. with Raul Paz on "Amores" in 1998, or with Biagio Antonacci on "Le message est pour toi" (french version) / "It's a message for you" (english version) in 1999, single that got gold again in Belgium).




Viktor Lazlo, "Pleurer des Rivières"
Most French-language covers of American pop standards are weak or downright suck - mainly because our language, while beautiful, is much less musical and rhythmic than English. Still, there are exceptions now and then. Viktor Lazlo's version of Cry Me A River (French title, Pleurer des Rivières, is an almost literal translation of the original) is one of them: classy, slick and sensual. Also, the lyrics are quite good - but you'll have to trust me on this one, since I lack the time to do a translation. :
Cry me a river
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Pleurer des rivières

Viktor Lazlo, "Begin The Biguine"

A singer? Always. An actor? Sometimes. Mysterious? Of course! That’s where her charm lies. But without giving the game away, let’s get to know her...




A near embodiment of the ideal woman, Viktor Lazlo is a committed, articulate artist. She chose her stage name in reference to Paul Henreid’s character in the 1942 Michael Curtiz movie “Casablanca”. Never losing sight of her family’s Caribbean roots, but loyal to ‘her’ adopted Belgium, 





Viktor, who could have been one of the queens of Paris when she was a top model (in 2002, she paid tribute to the city on an album of timeless covers, “Loin de Paname” - Far from ‘Paname’, as its natives call the French capital), divided her time between her rich everyday life and worlds of culture. Today, her hit single “Canoë Rose” (aka "Stories"  in her english version) is twenty years old and the fashion muse has moved on.

Viktor (who is always writing short stories and ever-changing scenarios) made up her mind to sing very different songs on this new album, songs by people who have always been part of her world, unsettling and enchanting her.
So this is not just a simple tribute album. Viktor has decided to convey a wealth of emotion, calling on Cole Porter, Billie Holiday (“Begin the biguine”), Tom Waits (“Lowside of the Road” a husky duet with Arno), or Shirley Horn with “Je lève mon verre” (I raise my glass), an adaptation of the sublime “Here’s to life”.
Writers - François Bernheim, Jean Fauque (Alain Bashung) and Christian Ouvrier - have paid their respects to the acclaimed, enchanting singer. Some of jazz’s best-known musicians have sat in on the sessions: Mino Cinelu on percussion, and Marc Ducray and Kevin Breit (Norah Jones) on guitars. As the album evolved, its initial concept was tempered with original writing. A balance between jazz - in the hands of David Linx, who produced the album - and variety took shape.
With her vision of the world, Viktor Lazlo brings us her tenth album, something of a condensed essence of all her lives: rich, full, startling and, at the same time, familiar. Chance plays no part in “Begin the Biguine”, only powerful stories, musical and human.
Aside from her ability to move us, Viktor Lazlo has a gift for creating comfortable yet intriguing ambiences.
The present moment is undoubtedly the key to this record, harmoniously created. A comprehensive album, it conveys great emotion.  

The highly glamorous Viktor Lazlo’s voice enfolds and enchants us in both French and English.


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Viktor Lazlo brings Billie Holiday to İstanbul stage

Singer Viktor Lazlo, whose career spans almost three decades, is not only famous for her love songs that often feature a touch of jazz and Latin flavors, but also for her talent as an actress and a novelist.
Lazlo, who borrows her stage name from the famous male character of the unforgettable movie “Casablanca,” has been one of European music lovers' favorite singers of love songs ever since she performed her song “Breathless” at the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest, which she also hosted.

These days, she is charming audiences with a musical based on the story of legendary jazz and blues singer Billie Holiday, staged by acclaimed Belgian dramatist and director Eric Emmanuel Schmitt. Accompanied on stage by a jazz quartet that consists of a pianist, bass player, drummer and saxophonist, Lazlo recounts the story of Billie Holiday through a selection of 20 of her songs.
Lazlo will bring this show to İstanbul next month, when she takes to the stage Dec. 4 at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall. But before that, she speaks about the musical and her 2012 album, “My Name is Billie Holiday,” in a recent interview with Sunday's Zaman.

How do you describe Billie Holiday's impact on your artistic expression?
Billie Holiday's voice has haunted me ever since I was a teenager. It's the first sentence of the show! I've always sung some of her songs in my shows, trying to stay as far as possible from her interpretations. That's how I ended up doing a rock version of [the Billie Holiday song] “Good Morning Heartache.” I was scared to approach her too closely, as if she would have burned me, because I thought there was something of her in my fragility as well as in my strength. Her impact on me has more to do with my intimacy than my artistic expression, though. I have learned, thanks to her, that you have to sing with what you are, not only with what you have.
You also published a novel, also named “My Name is Billie Holiday,” besides your tribute album. Could you tell us more about that?

“My Name is Billie Holiday” is a fiction novel that uses Billie Holiday as a character of the story, placing her in two important sequences of her life that really occurred: her two stays in London in 1954 and 1958, less than one year before her death.
There was so much more I wanted to say about her; how she sounded when she talked, how she moved, what it could do to a sensitive man, what her dreams could have been… But most of all, I wanted to create a man that would have loved her truly and for real. Because in the real world, men were all taking advantage of her.


You first novel “La femme qui pleure” (The Crying Woman) was a pretty dark novel about a woman ending up in a psychiatric clinic. Do you love dark novels?
“La femme qui pleure” was a dark novel because the subject was quite dangerous. Infanticide is a very big issue and I wanted to show what kind of path can bring a mother to that tragedy. I'm not particularly interested in dark literature, but in human behavior, and especially in the roads of women in our century in this society, where they seem to have gained so much freedom in spite of the odds, but still have to fight for everything that has been granted to men.

Does your show give clues about Holiday's personality besides her stage persona?
Yes, the show is about who Billie Holiday really was, what she went through, her joys and pains, and mostly in her way of telling things, with her sense of humor and the cynical distance she could establish between her and the tragedy of her own life. I wrote the short script after reading her autobiography and that is precisely what gave me the angle of how to tell a sad story in a humorous way.

In the show, you also perform a virtual duet with Billie Holiday in “Georgia on My Mind.” How does it feel to accompany her on the stage?
The virtual duet is a gift of modern technology. It's a dream come true! Every time I sing it, it gives me the chills!
How did you choose the songs for the show?
It was not an easy choice to pick 20 songs amongst 250! I needed songs that would help me tell the story, songs that were well known, in various tempos, etc. It took me a whole summer! 
But I ended up with this choice, because it's like a red thread I pull to take the audience through Billie Holiday's history, along with me.
What do you and her have in common on the stage?
It's quite difficult for me to say what we have in common, but I know for sure that when I sing, I dive deeply into the soul of the song with all my heart and that is probably what she was most famous for doing.
What's next on your agenda?

My third novel is on the way, and I am thinking about a new show for the fall of 2015.


Paris show reflects life of Billie Holiday in song and narrative

Backed by an all-male four-piece band, Viktor Lazlo re-enacts the colorful life of the Philadelphia-born star.
With so few live stage performances in Paris in English, visitors to the City of Light may not want to miss out on a multi-media show about the life of American jazz singer and songwriter Billie Holiday.

Backed by a talented, all-male four-piece band, featuring piano and saxophone, charismatic performer, Viktor Lazlo, re-enacts the colorful life of the Philadelphia-born star with excellent renditions from the singer’s wide repertoire interspersed with spoken biographical narrative. Giving the show added dimension is the creative use of Man-size, on-screen panels and old video of the singer who died in New York in 1959.

While the narrative parts are in French, the songs are all performed in English.

Lazlo has impressive stage presence being both beautiful, facially expressive and a dancer, as well as having a delicious touch of innocent naughtiness about her, especially obvious in her interaction with the cheeky saxophone player who at one point leaves his place offstage to flirt with her.


The performer also possesses wide voice range allowing her to master a plethora of songs from the sultry, timeless ballad, ‘Summertime’ to the heart-breaking ‘Strange Fruit,’ about the cruel treatment of black people in the US during the days of segregation and the struggle for civil rights. (Holiday was among the first black singers to include the plight of blacks in her songs).
Making four quick costume changes, the other songs Lazlo performs include ‘All Of Me,’ ‘Blue Moon, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You,’ ‘My Man’ and ‘Easy Living.’ She even engages in a duet with Billie (whose real name is Eleanora Harris), singing while an old clip of the influential singer performing the same song is played on a large screen beside her.

The historic Theatre Rive Gauche that hosted the show in spring this year is a wonderful place for such entertainment. With soft, cozy seating, it is a small and intimate venue with no member of the audience far from the stage. Being in the Montparnasse area, it is also close to what is known as ‘the creperie street’ due to the large number of eateries offering this type of cuisine and to places that Nobel prize winning author, Ernest Hemingway, frequented, so together they make for a full-day’s outing in central Paris.

Artist Biography by David Jeffries
A stylish and sensual singer, Sonia Dronnier became Viktor Lazlo when Belgian producer Francis Depryck discovered her and put together a package inspired by strong sexuality and black-and-white film. Born in Lorient, France, Dronier spent her college years studying and modeling in Brussels, Belgium. After she spent some time singing backup vocals in Depryck's band Lou & the Hollywood Bananas, the producer rounded up a set of nostalgic and noir-flavored songs and renamed her after a character in the Humphrey Bogart classic Casablanca. The stylish full-length She began her career in 1985 with a mix of songs sung in French, English, and Spanish. A French-language cover of Julie London's "Cry Me a River" ("Pleurer des Rivières") became a big hit across Europe a year later. In 1987 she hosted the televised broadcast of the Eurovision contest, which was held in Belgium that year. That same year she had another Euro hit with "Breathless," a duet with American singer James Ingram. After a move back to France in 1989 she released a series of successful albums before the ambitious Verso appeared in 1996 with funk and dub influences and a guest appearance from the classic reggae rhythm section of Sly & Robbie. Critical response to the album was so overwhelmingly positive that Dronnier claimed interviews promoting the release had focused on her music instead of her clothes for the first time in her career.


FULL DISCOGRAPHY HERE