13 May 1938 (age 85)
Saint Boniface, Winnipeg, Winnipeg Capital Region, Manitoba, Canada
Lucille Starr (born May 13, 1938) is a Franco-Manitoban / British Columbian singer, songwriter, and yodeler best known for her 1964 hit single, "Quand Le Soleil Dit Bonjour Aux Montagnes" ("The French Song.")
Born Lucille Marie Raymonde Savoie in St. Boniface, Manitoba, Canada, she was a natural musician who could play guitar, bass, as well as the mandolin. Although born in Manitoba, she was raised in Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam's Francophone community of Maillardville, British Columbia starting her musical career with the local group Les Hirondelles. Using the stage name, Lucille Starr, she eventually teamed up with band member Bob Regan both as his wife and to form their own country singing duo called "Bob & Lucille." Between 1958 and 1963 they released several 45 rpm records that were mainly covers of an eclectic mix of fashionable country, pop, rockabilly and folk songs of everyone from Perry Como to Connie Francis. Their records met with modest success on the North American West Coast and in 1963 they were signed by A&M Records with whom they began recording as "The Canadian Sweethearts."
At A&M Records in Los Angeles, California, Lucille Starr recorded a 45 rpm called "The French Song" that was produced by Herb Alpert. A hauntingly beautiful ballad of lost love sung in both French and English, the song struck a chord with both country and pop music fans alike. In 1964, at a time when The Beatles dominated the music charts, "The French Song" was a huge international success that made Lucille Starr the first Canadian female artist to ever have a record sell a million copies. The song took her from near obscurity to the world stage, touring the United States and appearing on the Louisiana Hayride radio show and on Chicago radio station WLS (AM) popular National Barn Dance. As well, Starr sang on American television musical variety shows such as Shindig! and Hullabaloo followed by tours of Pacific Rim countries, Australia, South Africa, and across Europe where she became a particular favorite in the Netherlands. The song is reported to have sold in excess of six million copies, earning one platinum and five gold records.
In 1967, Lucille Starr and her Canadian Sweethearts duo signed a recording contract with Epic Records in Nashville, Tennessee. Divorced from her husband, their musical collaboration ended in 1977. Although she never again had a hit of the magnitude of "The French Song," Lucille Starr enjoyed a long and prosperous career recording primarily in English but also in French and Spanish. For the most part she sang country music, becoming the first female inducted into the Canadian Country Music Association’s "Hall of Honor" in 1987. A capable yodeler, she was hired to do the yodeling for the "Cousin Pearl" character on several segments of the hit TV series, The Beverly Hillbillies.
In her honour, a street in the city of Coquitlam, British Columbia was named "Lucille Starr Drive".
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