French R&B diva Nâdiya traded a career as a track and field champion for pop music success, scoring a breakthrough hit in 2004 with "Parle-moi." Born Nâdiya Zighem in Tours, France, on June 19, 1973, she was the product of a large Algerian family that also produced brother Kader, a future French boxing champion.
In 1989, she was ranked number one in the nation in 800-meter running, but at age 20 she retired from athletics to pursue a career in music, relocating to Paris and in 1999 releasing a little-noticed single, "Dénoue Mes Mains." After taking time out to start a family, Nâdiya resurfaced in 2001 with "Aucun Dieu Ne Pourra Me Pardoner," a duet with rapper Stomy Bugsy
. The follow-up, "J'ai Confiance en Toi," would prove her first French Top 40 hit, and that summer she released "Chaque Fois," which reached the number 27 slot. By year's end Nâdiya issued her full-length debut, Changer les Choses, but despite the success of her previous singles the album fared poorly, although it did receive a nomination from the annual Victoires de la Musique awards. After more than two years out of the limelight, Nâdiya returned in early 2004 with "Parle-moi," a plea for communication between parents and children. After debuting at number 79, the single vaulted to number two in just one week and remained on the charts for close to six months. The LP 16/9 followed in June, and itself spent 93 non-consecutive weeks on the charts thanks to the international hit "Et C'est Parti...," a collaboration with rapper Smartzee, and "Si Loin de Vous." A second duet with Smartzee, "Tous Ces Mots," heralded Nâdiya's third album, a self-titled effort issued in mid-2006. The Top Five smashes "Roc" and "Amies-Ennemies" helped push the disc atop the French album chart. In 2007, Nâdiya released La Source, a compilation of previous hits that also included re-workings and five new tracks. The singer followed this in late 2008 with Électron Libre, her fourth studio album, which featured duets with Enrique Iglesias and Kelly Rowland. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi