Isabelle Boulay vaulted from success on the theatrical stage and in television to international fame as one of the premier Francophone pop divas of her generation.
Born July 6, 1972, in Sainte-Félicité, Quebec, Boulay spent much of her childhood in and around her parents' restaurant, where she often performed to the delight of friends and patrons. In time she began entering local talent contests, and claimed her first victory at the age of seven. She harbored few if any dreams of a professional music career, however, studying literature before friends surreptitiously entered her in the 1990 Petite-Vallée Song Festival. Boulay's performance was nevertheless a tremendous success with the judges, and a year later she took home top prize at the Granby Song Festival with her rendition of Jacques Brel
's "Amsterdam," resulting in an invitation to compete in Les FrancoFolies de Montréal. In 1993 Boulay represented Radio Canada at Périgord, France's "Truffe de Périgueux" festival, emerging as the winner of the "Chanson Francophone" category. The exposure captured the attention of composer and producer Luc Plamondon, who cast her to replace Luce Dufault
as Marie-Jeanne in a revival of his David Bowie
-inspired rock opera Starmania. Boulay next surfaced as the singing voice of Alys Robi in the television series of the same name. In late 1996, she also issued her debut solo LP, Fallait Pas, scoring a minor Canadian hit with the single "J'enrage." The 1998 follow-up, États d'Amour, proved Boulay's commercial breakthrough, galvanized by the Plamondon-penned smash "Je T'oublierai, Je T'oublierai." She also earned Best Female Singer of the Year at the annual Félix Awards. Boulay's 2000 release Mieux Qu'ici Bas made her a star in France, where she won Best New Artist honors at the Victoires de la Musique awards. She toured both Quebec and France in the year to follow, with a pair of dates at Montreal's Wilfried-Pelletier yielding the live release Au Moment d'Être à Vous. Benjamin Biolay
and Pierre Jaconelli co-produced Boulay's 2004 effort Tout un Jour. De Retour à la Source followed three years later, reaching the number two spot on the Canadian pop charts. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi