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Nolwenn Leroy

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Title: Nolwenn Leroy  
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Nolwenn Leroy

Nolwenn Leroy
Leroy performing at the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper, France on July 22, 2011
Background information
Birth name Nolwenn Le Magueresse
Born (1982-09-28) 28 September 1982
Saint-Renan, France
Genres Pop, World, Celtic
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 2002 – present
Labels Universal International
Mercury France
Website Official Website

Nolwenn Leroy (born Nolwenn Le Magueresse; 28 September 1982 in [2]

Leroy has received numerous awards and nominations. In December 2013, she was ranked 19th on Le Journal du Dimanche's 50 Most Loved Celebrities in France, making her the top female singer on the list.[3]

Early life and career beginnings

Leroy's parents left Saint-Renan (Finistère) when she was four years old. After living in Paris, Lille, and Guingamp, her mother, Muriel Leroy, and her younger sister, Kay, settled with Leroy's grandparents in Saint-Yorre. Her mother divorced from her father, professional footballer Jean-Luc Le Magueresse, in 1993.[4]

Nolwenn studied at the "Collège des Célestins" in Vichy. When Leroy was eleven, her music teacher noticed her musical talents and encouraged her to learn the violin. At the age of thirteen she won "Les écoles du désert", a contest sponsored by the Cora supermarket chain, which allowed her to travel with a humanitarian mission from Gao to Timbuktu, Mali; she later claimed this had a profound influence on her.[4]

In July 1998, Leroy was awarded a scholarship by the Vichy Rotary Club to travel to Hamilton, Ohio, as an exchange student. While attending Hamilton High School, she took music lessons at the Performing Arts School and became fluent in English during her stay there.[4] When she returned to France, she began classical singing classes at the Vichy music conservatory. In 2001, she enrolled in the University of Clermont-Ferrand to study law for a potential alternative career to music.[4]


2002: Star Academy

After watching the first series of the television reality show, Star Academy, in 2001, Leroy was impressed by Armande Altaï, one of the show's judges, and decided to join Altaï's singing classes. In 2002, Nolwenn was selected for the second season of the show. She was declared the overall winner, ahead of her fellow finalist, Houcine Camara, in December 2002.

2003–2004: Eponymous debut album

Leroy's first album, Nolwenn, was released in March 2003 and was certified platinum by November[5] for sales exceeding 300,000 copies.[6] In 2006, the album was certified two times platinum by the Syndicat national de l'édition phonographique (SNEP) for more than 600,000 copies sold.[7] Four songs from the album, "Cassé", "Une Femme cachée", "Suivre une étoile" and "Inévitablement" were released as singles. Leroy went on tour in France, Belgium and Switzerland in late 2003 to promote songs from the album.

2005–2008: Histoires Naturelles

Leroy's second album, Histoires Naturelles, was produced by Laurent Voulzy. Five singles were released from the album. "Nolwenn Ohwo!", co-written by Alain Souchon, Voulzy and Leroy herself, topped the French music charts.[8] The second single was the title track, "Histoire Naturelle". Music videos were made for both songs; the video for "Histoire Naturelle" expressed the main theme of the album with Leroy being portrayed as natural history museum exhibits. Of the other single releases, "Mon Ange" was distributed digitally while "J'aimais tant l'aimer" and "Reste Encore" were promotional-only. The album reached platinum status[9] with 400,000 copies sold.[10] Songs from Histoires Naturelles and Nolwenn were performed on Leroy's second tour entitled "Histoires Naturelles Tour", which started in September 2006. Leroy's first live album was subsequently released in late October 2007.

2009–2010: Le Cheshire Cat & Moi

Leroy performing at the 2010 Francofolies in Spa (Belgium).

Le Cheshire Cat & Moi was a project that began in 2007, co-written by Leroy and Teitur Lassen, with contributions from Jonatha Brooke, Michelle Featherstone, Mike Errico and Rupert Hine. It was arranged and produced by Lassen, and recorded in Sweden and the Faroe Islands. Leroy was observed to feature "a lighter sound than on previous releases"[11] and the album gave the opportunity for her to write all the lyrics.[4] The album was released in December 2009. A tour entitled "Le Cheshire Cat & Vous" to promote the record was held in 2010.

2010–2012: Bretonne

Leroy released a fourth studio album, Bretonne, on 6 December 2010. Cover versions of traditional Celtic songs such as "Mná na h-Éireann", "Tri Martolod", "La Jument de Michao", and contemporary songs such as Christophe Miossec's "Brest" were included on the album. Most of the songs related to Brittany, the singer's birthplace, four sung in Breton ("Tri Martolod", "Suite Sudarmoricaine", "Bro Gozh ma Zadoù", "Karantez Vro"). Leroy collaborated with Jon Kelly for the musical arrangements.[12] The album topped the French album charts for 7 weeks and the Belgian album charts for 5 weeks.

The album was re-released in November 2011 as a Deluxe Edition which added 7 English language tracks, including "Amazing Grace", "Scarborough Fair" and two Mike Oldfield tracks, "Moonlight Shadow" and "To France".

2012–present: Ô Filles de l'Eau

Leroy performing "Brian Boru" with Alan Stivell at the Paris Olympia in France on February 16, 2012

Nolwenn Leroy released her fifth album on 26 November 2012, along with her leading single "Juste Pour Me Souvenir". The title reads 'O Daughters of the Water' but is phonetically identical to 'au fil de l'eau' ('with the current/flow'). Like Bretonne, it contains Celtic inspired music but with more ocean themed lyrics. The song "Homeland" sung in English, contains the James Horner composed theme of the film Braveheart. Leroy wrote and co-composed nine songs, including the singles "Juste pour me souvenir", "Sixième continent", "J'ai volé le lit de la mer" and "Ophélia".[13]

Reviews of the album were strong, with some praising Leroy's vocal ability and Celtic music and lyrics, noting that her singing in English and Breton was brave and proved her to be an evolving artist, with strong sales to match. Two months after its release, the album was certified three times platinum by the SNEP.[14]

In early 2014, she was nominated at the World Music Awards for the first time, in four categories: World's Best Album (Bretonne), World's Best Entertainer, World's Best Female Artist, and World's Best Live Act.[15]

On May 3, 2014, Leroy performed the Breton anthem "Bro Gozh ma Zadoù" at the Stade de France before 80,000 spectators, for the 2014 Coupe de France Final (aired on France 2) opposing two Breton clubs, the Stade Rennais to EA Guingamp.[16]


Leroy's music was studied for its neurological impact in geriatric populations.[17][18][19] Researchers found that Leroy's recordings might have a more beneficial effect than other music, noting that: "the music of Nolwenn Leroy was found to be significantly superior to other music tested". To describe the phenomenon they coined the term the Nolwenn Effect, saying: "the music of Nolwenn Leroy appears to have a different effect on brain-based modulation of gait and stance than other music tested to date".

Mozart and Dutch and French singers were tested; only Mozart and Leroy's music were specified. The U.S. study was completed in February 2008, but no substantial results appear to be published.[20]


In 2011, Leroy appeared in two television commercials for the Nintendo 3DS and she became the face of Pantene for France[21] and Belgium.[22]


In 2006, she joigned the charity ensemble Les Enfoirés and she became one of the Abbé Pierre Foundation's patrons[23] for housing people in need.


Studio albums

Year Title Chart positions

QC (Fr)
US (World)
KOR (Int)


2003 Nolwenn 1 1 2
2005 Histoires Naturelles 3 7 44
2009 Le Cheshire Cat et moi 26 32
2010 Bretonne 1 1 20 13 9 10 34 9
2012 Ô Filles de l'Eau 5 5 35 60

Live albums

Year Title Chart positions



2007 Histoires Naturelles Tour 25 21


Year Title Chart positions[1][30] Album
2003 "Cassé" 1 1 4 Nolwenn
"Une Femme Cachée" 40 23 78
"Suivre Une Etoile" 12 24 44
2004 "Inévitablement" 31 26
2005 "Nolwenn Ohwo !" 1 3 29 Histoires Naturelles
2006 "Histoire Naturelle" 30 39
"Mon Ange" 6*
2007 "J'aimais Tant L'Aimer"
"Reste Encore"
2009 "Faut-il, Faut-il Pas ?" 6*
Le Cheshire Cat et moi
2010 "Textile Schizophrénie"
"Suite Sudarmoricaine" 19*
"Mná na h-Éireann" 25*
"La Jument de Michao" 36 13
2011 "Tri Martolod" 51 29
"Brest" 42
"Moonlight Shadow" 48 32 Bretonne (Deluxe Edition)
2012 "Juste pour me souvenir" 43 13 Ô Filles de l'Eau
2013 "Sixième continent" 11*
"J'ai volé le lit de la mer" 4*

* Belgium Ultratip[31]
denotes releases that did not chart.

Other charted songs

Year Title Chart positions Album
2007 "Aimer à perdre la raison"
(with Les Enfoirés)
22 La Caravane des Enfoirés
(with Les Enfoirés)
7 Les secrets des Enfoirés
2012 "Without You"
(with Les Enfoirés)
91 49 Le bal des Enfoirés
"Attention au départ"
(with Les Enfoirés)
5 3 49 La boîte à musique des Enfoirés
2013 "Jeanne"
(with Les Enfoirés)
44 25
2014 "Laissez-nous chanter"
(with Les Enfoirés)
196 Bon anniversaire les Enfoirés
"Dès que le vent soufflera"
96 14
La Bande à Renaud
"La ballade nord-irlandaise" 142

Voice acting


Leroy attending the NRJ Music Awards in Cannes, France on January 26, 2013
  • NRJ Music Awards:
    • Francophone Breakthrough of the Year (2004)
    • Best-selling Album of the Year for Bretonne (2012)
  • Étoiles Chérie FM:
    • Étoile de la Sensibilité (2006)
    • Étoile Chérie FM (2006)
    • Song of the Year for Mon Ange (2007)
    • Female Artist of the Year (2007)
  • France Bleu Talents:
    • Award from the Audience (2007)
  • Le Télégramme:
    • Award for the album Bretonne (Grand Prix du Disque 2010)
    • Breton of the Year (2011)
  • Planète Musique Mag (France 2):
    • Planète Musique Mag of Gold (2011)
  • RTL - Le Parisien:
    • Personality of the Year (2011)
  • Bro Gozh ma Zadoù Award (2012)
  • Grands Prix de l'UNAC (National union of songwriters and composers):
    • Award for the Song Juste pour me souvenir (2013)
  • RTL - Metronews:
    • Album of the Year for Ô Filles de l'Eau (2013)


  1. ^ a b "Nolwenn Leroy's Singles French Chart positions". Retrieved 16 September 2007. 
  2. ^ "Nolwenn obtient son double disque de diamant pour Bretonne". Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  3. ^ (French) "Top 50 : le podium des femmes". Le Journal du Dimanche. 27 December 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Nolwenn Leroy".  
  5. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine – année 2003 [Platinum album certifications – year 2003]". Disque en France (in French).  
  6. ^ "France Lowers Gold Standard". Billboard. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "Certifications Albums Double Platine – année 2006 [Double-Platinum album certifications – year 2006]". Disque en France (in French).  
  8. ^ "Nolwenn Ohwo! – Chart performance"
  9. ^ (French) "Nolwenn Leroy - Biographie". TV5 Monde. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  10. ^ (French) "Joyeux Nolwenn". Le Soir. 16 December 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  11. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Le Cheshire Cat et Moi". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Fourth Studio Album Release Information"
  13. ^ (French) "Nolwenn Leroy. Chanson par chanson, elle commente son nouvel album". Le Télégramme. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  14. ^ (French) "Nolwenn Leroy avec son chignon haut façon bun à Paris". Plurielles. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Vote - Cast your vote". World Music Awards. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  16. ^ (French) "Coupe de France. Nolwenn Leroy chante le Bro gozh ma zadou". Ouest-France. 3 May 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Fall Prevention in a Geriatric Nursing Home Setting Using the Music of Nolwenn Leroy" at
  18. ^ "Study of the Effect of the Music of Nolwenn Leroy in Fall Prevention Strategies in Texas Nursing Homes" at
  19. ^ "Fall Prevention Strategies Including Music and Posturography" at
  20. ^ Falling over. The Guardian, online.
  21. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy : nouvelle égérie Pantene". Elle (in French). Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy, chanteuse et ambassadrice Pantène". Gael (in French). Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "Le Comité d'Amis et Parrains" (in French). Abbé Pierre Foundation's official website. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Nolwenn Leroy – Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Nolwenn Leroy – Longplay-Chartverfolgung". (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  26. ^ "Palmarès des ventes de CD du 30 mai au 5 juin 2011 - Palmarès francophone [Top 10 Francophone Albums Chart in Quebec from May 30 to June 5, 2011]" (in Français).  La Presse. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  27. ^ "World Albums Chart - January 26, 2013". Billboard. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  28. ^ "2013년 27주차 Album Chart - (2013.06.23~2013.06.29) [South Korea Physical Albums Chart]" (in 한국어).  Gaon Music Chart. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  29. ^ "2013년 27주차 Album Chart - (2013.06.23~2013.06.29) - 국의 [South Korea International Albums Chart]" (in 한국어).  Gaon Music Chart. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  30. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy's Singles Swiss Chart positions". Retrieved 16 September 2007. 
  31. ^ "Belgian Singles Charts"
  32. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy, une adorable et merveilleuse fée qui entre dans la légende". PurePeople (in French). Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy, la nouvelle fée du Futuroscope". France Bleu (in French). Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "Nolwenn Leroy donne de la voix pour le cinéma". Première (in French). Retrieved 18 March 2014. 

External links

  • Official Nolwenn Leroy website
  • Unofficial Nolwenn Leroy website
  • Official Nolwenn Leroy fan forum
  • Nolwenn Leroy fan forum
  • Nolwenn Leroy: online radio via Radionomy
Preceded by
Jenifer Bartoli
Winner of
Star Academy France

Succeeded by
Élodie Frégé


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