French singer Hugues Aufray was born on August 18, 1929. When the Nazi’s occupied the Paris region, the Aufray family fled south, where Aufray developed a love of the natural world. He wanted to become a painter and entered the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. To pay for his expenses while at art school, Aufray sang on the street, eventually moving into bars and cabarets where he covered songs by Georges Brassens. Aufray’s big break came when he sang a song by then unknown composer Serge Gainsbourg “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas” for a contest organized by a radio station and it became a big hit. In the early 60s, he represented Luxembourg (why, I don’t know) in the Eurovision song contest. Although he didn’t win, his song “Dès que le printemps revient“, was a great success and cemented his career.
His most famous songs are “Santiano” and “Céline”, but my favorite is his version of “Une Chanson douce” (oon shansohn doose), which means “a sweet song” and is extremely difficult to track down. He’s a major fan of Bob Dylan and covers many of his songs translated into French. Long before being an environmentalist was popular, Aufray was living the simple life with a herd of goats and growing lavender. Aufray is often refered to as un troubadour (uhn true-ba-dour), which refers to a traveling minstrel. While Aufray may technically live in the 21st century, his gentle ballads hark back to a distant past. He periodically emerges from his farm to record a new album or perform to packed houses, sometimes collaborating with fellow artists Johnny Hallyday, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and Francis Cabrel. And yes, sometimes the traveling minstrel will go on tour, even though this troubador of sweet songs is now over 80 years old.