Don is an American who has a passion for singing in French.
Native French listeners often take him for French upon hearing
him sing, and frequently ask what part of France he is from.
He hasn’t lived in France or any other French-speaking country. He wasn’t raised by or around French-speaking
people. He was born and grew up on south Florida’s east coast and has English-Scotch-Irish blood lines on both parents’
It started in high school. Not
the singing -- the French. He had a sophomore English teacher whose teaching style and ethics he respected and enjoyed. When
he asked his teacher what other subjects she taught, she answered, “French, first and second year.” Don’s
immediate reaction was: “Great, Mrs. Hennessey! Sign me up!”
He didn’t start singing in high school -- he played the clarinet in
the band and orchestra. (He even considered becoming a professional clarinetist.) But he was interested in other things, too,
like commercial art, portrait drawing, and acting. He also had a hidden talent that only his family knew about: he could do
voice imitations quite well, particularly singing. But he never considered revealing this talent publicly -- he was too shy
and self-conscious.His French/English teacher noticed early
on that he had a perfectionistic drive to sound like a French native, so she lent him her treasured collection of LPs of famous
French singers like Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel, Jacqueline Francois, and even
some Maurice Chevalier. Her goal was to provide him the native sounds of pronunciation to mimic. She knew that the musical
approach would appeal to Don.
play the records over and over and, as a side product, learned many of the songs by heart. He would sing along with the records.
He would practice singing the songs walking down the street. Being musical, he assimilated the rhythms of the language. Being
a natural mimic, he learned to reproduce the sounds he heard. He brought his out-of-the-classroom results into the classroom
and got his teacher's feedback and coaching to further polish his skills.
above explains how he became interested in French. After his schooling was completed and he had a well-established career
in computer programming, he took some singing lessons for fun. One thing led to another and he returned to the popular French
songs that he had studied and learned in school, along with newer French songs he had been drawn to. What we have left
out is that he had also been pursuing his acting interests in his spare time. With considerable amateur stage experience under
his belt, he was inspired to work up a solo act singing in English and French. He liked to perform songs that people recognized
and he therefore gravitated to the nostalgic ones.
In September 2000, Don auditioned for and was selected as one of only seven
performers from all over the United States to perform in Las Vegas at the Paris Hotel and Casino in celebration of the casino's
first anniversary... and Don was the only non-French native to be chosen.
In 2001, he started recording and released his first CD, "eclectique."