The Eurovision community is in mourning today.

Guy Bonnet, the singer and composer who represented France as a performer at the contest twice and as a composer once, has died. He passed away Monday at the age of 78 in the French city of Montpellier.

Bonnet first dipped his toes into the Eurovision universe in 1968 as a co-lyricist of France’s 1968 entry “La Source“, performed by Eurovision 1962 champion Isabelle Aubret. The song finished 3rd on the night and went on a healthy run on the singles charts across Europe. He returned as both a composer and writer in 1970 and 1983, placing 4th with the song “Marie-Blanche” at the former (see below) and 8th with the song “Vivre” at the latter.

Born in the city of Avignon in France’s Provence region, Bonnet’s greatest post-Eurovision successes came from the music he recorded and performed in the regional Provençal language. He spent his career championing the language and music of his roots in the Provence region, even titling his 2020 biography La Provence au fond du coeur. (In English, that titles roughly translates as Provence at the Bottom of My Heart.)

“We are losing our greatest singer in the Provençal language,” said Jean-Pierre Richard, president of The Collectif Prouvènço, a group dedicated to bolstering the region’s language and culture, in an interview today.

In 2016, Bonnet’s career got an unexpected shot of adrenaline when “Blue Lights”, the debut single by British R&B songstress Jorja Smith, went viral. The song, which enjoyed chart success in France, The UK, Belgium, and Australia, included a sample from his 1981 instrumental composition “Amour, émoi… et vous”. (You can view a live performance of the song by Jorja Smith below.)

The producers behind “Blue Lights” unearthed Bonnet’s composition in the CBS music archives and contacted him for permission to integrate it into the melodic base of Jorja Smith’s debut release.

“It’s a nice surprise,” Bonnet told French newspaper La Provence at the time. “The whole world is watching this girl, what more can I dream of?”

ESC United’s thoughts are with Guy Bonnet’s friends, family, and fans.

 

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