||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (March 2012)|
|Birth name||France Joly|
January 26, 1963 |
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Genres||Disco, soul, dance-pop, Hi-NRG|
|Years active||1979 – present|
As early as age four, Joli was performing for relatives lip-synching to Barbra Streisand records while handling a skipping rope like a microphone; she had appeared on television by age six. At age 11, Joli left the public school system (her mother tutored her) to concentrate on her performing career appearing regularly in television commercials and talent shows. A mutual acquaintance suggested Joli meet up with musician Tony Green who Joli approached backstage after he'd given a concert, Joli inviting Green to be her record producer. Green didn't take the 13-year-old Joli seriously: he'd recall: "To get rid of her I [told] her to keep in touch." According to one source Joli eventually visited Green's home to sing for him; it's also reported that Green first heard Joli sing from the audience of an "end of school year show" in which she performed in the fall of 1978. Both accounts concur that Green first heard Joli singing along with a Streisand record. Green had written the song "Come to Me" for Joli by the next day.
When the producer Green originally commissioned to record Joli indicated a desire to develop Joli as a Francophone singer, Green himself took over production duties for Joli. The tracks Joli cut with Green were picked up by Prelude and released on April 17, 1979 as the album France Joli: the track "Come to Me" received a boost when Joli performed it as a last-minute replacement for Donna Summer at a concert held on Fire Island on July 7, 1979 before an estimated audience of 5000.
"Come to Me" began a three-week reign atop the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play on 22 September 1979 and the France Joli album rose to #26. On the Billboard Hot 100 "Come to Me" peaked at #15 a symptom of the increasing disenchantment of pop radio with disco music.
Joli made her network television debut on 26 October 1979 broadcast of The Midnight Special and she co-hosted the 7 December episode. Her other TV credits included episodes of the talk shows of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore and also a Bob Hope special.
1980 saw the release of Joli's second album Tonight with the ballad "This Time (I'm Giving All I've Got)" released as a single bubbling under for two weeks pk #103: this attempt to curry favor in the mainstream market was unsuccessful with Joli receiving support only in the dance club market where the tracks "The Heart to Break the Heart" and "Feel Like Dancing" achieved a joint position of #3: Tonight was ranked on the Billboard album chart at #175.
In 1981 Joli's third album Now - produced by Ray Reid and William Anderson from Crown Heights Affair rather than Tony Green1 - failed to generate even a low chart placing, success apparent only in another dance club smash with the track "Gonna Get Over You", which went to number two for two weeks on the American dance charts. However Joli, as evidenced by her opening for the Commodores during their American tour of 1981, was still viewed as having star potential: she departed the dance music-oriented Prelude label for mainstream music giant Epic. Prelude owner Marvin Schlachter would say of Joli: "She was a very beautiful young lady and she had a sort of magnetic appeal, which quite frankly was appealing to everybody, but in a manor [sic] of speaking - the talent was...the people behind her [who] directed her career. When she felt that she wanted to rise above the Disco market and left Prelude to sign with [Epic's owner] Columbia - her career disappeared. Because again, the talent was in the producers and the writers and so on. She again, was an instrument of their creativity." 
- 1The track: "Your Good Lovin'" was arranged and produced by Prelude regulars Eric Matthew and Darryl Payne.
- 2"Gonna Get Over You" reached #43 on the French Pop charts 
Joli's Epic debut Attitude (1983) was produced by Pete Bellotte; Giorgio Moroder was credited as executive producer. The album personnel included Martin Page on electric guitar, Page's Q-Feel sideman Brian Fairweather on electric bass and Richie Zito on electric bass and electric guitar: Zito also performed arranging duties. The tracks included Joli's original "Dumb Blond" (co-written with Daniel Vail) and a remake of the Four Tops' "Standing in the Shadows of Love" which featured Gladys Knight's backing group the Pips; the latter was a moderate club success in tandem with the cuts "Girl in the 80s" and "Blue Eyed Technology" but despite a performance by Joli on "Solid Gold" the single "Girl in the 80s" - written by Jay Ferguson and Deborah Neal - garnered no evident mainstream interest.
Joli's next Epic release was Witch Of Love (1985) produced by George Duke: prior to the album's release Joli had performed the Duke-penned track "Party Lights" at the Yamaha Music Festival in 1984 and had won the Grand Prix. The title cut of Witch of Love was a Joli-Vail composition as was the track "What About Me". Witch of Love featured probably the two tracks Joli ever recorded that had the strongest credentials in terms of songwriters: Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly contributed "In the Darkness" while "Love Always Finds a Way" was courtesy of Tom Snow and Cynthia Weil. However as with Attitude the choice for single was a Ferguson-Neal composition: the rather quirky "Does He Dance", which again failed at US radio - although it did become a Canadian airplay item - while becoming a moderate club hit boosted by a remix by Shep Pettibone.
The commercial failure of both of her Epic album releases led to the label dropping Joli who spent the next ten years with her career focused on performing rather than recording.
In 2011, Gold Legion.com digitally remastered both albums and released them on CD. Along with bonus tracks of the 12 inch dance version, it comes with a beautifully designed 12 page booklet with liner notes detail the story of this album as told by France Joli.
1996 and 2000s
In 1996, Joli reunited with Tony Green for the single Touch on Popular Records. The original incarnation of the single was a CD single with Eurodance/Hi-NRG styled remixes intended for radio but received limited airplay. The song belatedly became a hit in clubs, reaching #24 on Hot Dance Music/Club Play, when new remixes by Darrin "Spike" Friedman were released on vinyl 12" single. There were two separate 12" singles released individually, each featuring a different Darrin Friedman remix, along with the other mixes from the CD single divided between the two records. The song became a regional hit in the New York tri-state area, as it was a favorite of DJs such as Jonathan Peters and Junior Vasquez at their weekly residencies.
The follow-up single "Breakaway" included remixes geared toward the underground clubs. Two different CD singles of "Breakaway" were released, Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 had the Junior Vasquez and Eddie Baez mixes of "Breakaway," while part 2 included additional remixes of "Breakaway," including a remix by Andy the Lamboy, as well one of the Darrin Friedman mixes of "Touch" and a previously unreleased Junior Vasquez mix of "Touch." Both "Touch" and "Breakaway" were featured on Joli's first album in 13 years, If You Love Me (1998): as the Popular label had folded Koch Records released the album.
Joli's "Come to Me" is featured in When Ocean Meets Sky (2003), a documentary detailing the 50-year history of the Fire Island Pines community. The film - which had its television premiere on June 10, 2006 - includes much previously unseen archival footage, but unfortunately Joli's electrifying July 1979 performance of "Come to Me" is presented only in still photographs with musical background, suggesting no footage of that renowned event exists. The sequence includes interviews with those who recall Joli's 1979 performance on Fire Island. When Ocean Meets Sky is seen occasionally on the Logo channel. In addition, it was also featured in the 1998 movie 54, depicting the goings on at Studio 54 in New York.
|1979||France Joli (re-released in 1994 as Come to Me)||26||Prelude|
|1985||Witch of Love||—|
|1998||If You Love Me||—||Popular|
|2010||Divas of Disco: Live (with CeCe Peniston, Linda Clifford, A Taste of Honey and Thelma Houston)||—||Pegasus|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Label|
|FR||US Hot 100||US R&B||US Disco|
|1979||Come to Me||65||15||36||1||Prelude|
|1979||Don't Let Go||—||—||—||—|
|1979||Don't Stop Dancing||1|
|1980||Heart to Break the Heart||3|
|1980||Feel Like Dancing||3|
|1981||Gonna Get Over You||43||—||2|
|1982||Your Good Lovin'||—||53|
|1983||Girl in the 80's||46||Epic|
|1984||Blue Eyed Technology||61|
|1985||Does He Dance||40|
- "Don't Stop Dancing" charted with Come To Me on the Disco Chart
- "The Heart to Break the Heart" charted with Feel Like Dancing on the Disco Chart
- "Come To Me" also peaked at #47 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart.
- List of number-one dance hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart