(born 24 March 1977) is a singer who performs under the name Corneille
. He was born in Germany to Rwandan parents, though he currently holds a Canadian passport and sings in French and English. His work is greatly influenced by American funk and soul music; among those he admires are Prince, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.Early lifeCorneille was born in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, though he spent most of his childhood in Rwanda. He discovered his passion for music in 1993, and so joined an R&B group, who won the Découverte 1993 competition. This also introduced him to songwriting and musical composition. However, his life changed after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. His father, Émile Nyungura, was a leader of the political party PSD; as a result, his parents and some of his relatives were killed in the genocide. Corneille fled to Germany, where some of his parents' friends took him in.
In July 1997, Corneille decided to leave Germany in order to pursue studies in communication, and moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to attend Concordia University. During this time, he founded O.N.E.
, an R&B band, with Pierre Gage and Gardy Martin, whom he had met shortly after arriving in Quebec. Zoukin
, one of the group's songs written by Corneille, rose to first place in Canadian airplay. Then, at the beginning of 2001, Corneille left the group, wishing to pursue a solo career. He began to center his songs on his past.During 2002, Corneille worked on various projects. He wrote and composed the songs "Ce soir" for the Cocktail R&B 2
compilation (Ghetto R&B, Sony Music) and "Si seulement on s'aimait" for Hip Hop Folies
(Sony Music). Invited by Dave Stewart, he performed at his first showcase at the Réservoir in Paris, and had the chance to sing with Jimmy Cliff. In January 2003, he was invited to perform the first part of Cunnie Williams at Olympia. His first public concert at Opus Club followed shortly thereafter.Corneille's first album, the Canadian version of Parce qu'on vient de loin
, was released on 10 September 2002. It was little known. The French version, which included numerous bonuses on the second disc, was released on 20 October 2003. It quickly became successful. To date, the album sold more than a million copies.In April 2003, Corneille sang with Craig David, repeating a verse in French in the song Rise and Fall
. He underwent his first tour during May 2003, receiving a full house in Paris, Marseilles, Lyon and Bordeaux. In March 2005, the singer participated in the concert Africa Live
, which was organised to fight against (malaria) paludism. This is the first time that he has returned to his home continent since the genocide.Les marchands de rêves
, Corneille's second album, was released in November 2005.Corneille is working with the Canadian Red Cross to raise awareness of children who are victims of war. He finished recording his first English-language album, The Birth Of Cornelius
, which was released in July 2007. The first single is called "Back To Life". written by mrs. smith
Corneille wrote the song "Il était temps" for Virginie Pouchain after he qualified to represent France in Eurovision Song Contest 2006. He sang it on 20 May 2006 on the final day of the competition finishing 22nd in between 24 finalists.
Corneille officially became a Canadian citizen on 8 November 2004.He married Sofia de Medeiros (see External Link), his girlfriend of four years, on 9 September 2006 in a small and private ceremony by the lake at the Quintessence hotel, 130 km north of Montreal. She is a model and actress of Canadian and Portuguese parentage. Sofia de Medeiros gave birth to their first child, son Merik on 9 April 2010.