Aznavour was born in Paris, the son of Armenian immigrants Michael Aznavourian and Knar Bagdasarian. His artistic parents introduced him to the world of theatre at an early age.
He began to perform when he was nine and soon took the stage name Aznavour. His big break came when the singer Édith Piaf heard him sing and arranged to take him with her on tour in France and to the United States.
Often described as the "Frank Sinatra of France", Aznavour sings mostly about love. He has written musicals and about a thousand songs, made more than one hundred records, and appeared in sixty movies, including Shoot the Piano Player, The Tin Drum and Ararat. Aznavour sings in many languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, Portuguese, Neapolitan), which has helped him perform at Carnegie Hall and other major venues around the world. He also recorded at least one song from the 18th century poet Sayat Nova, in Armenian. Que C'est Triste Venise, sung in French, Italian (Com'è Triste Venezia), Spanish (Venecia Sin Ti), English (How Sad Venice Can Be), and German (Venedig im Grau), is one of Aznavour's most famous polylingual songs.
In the 1970s Aznavour became a major success in the United Kingdom where his song "She" went to Number One in the charts. His other well-known song in the UK was "Dance in the Old Fashioned Way".
An admirer of Quebec, where he played in Montreal cabarets before becoming famous, he has helped the career of Quebec singer-songwriter Lynda Lemay in France, and has a house in Montreal. On July 5, 2008, he was invested as an honorary officer of the Order of Canada and performed the following day on the Plains of Abraham as a feature of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.
Charles Aznavour Statue in Gyumri, Armenia.Since the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, Aznavour has been helping the country through his charity, Aznavour for Armenia. Together with his brother in-law and co-author Georges Garvarentz he writes the song "Pour toi Armenie", which topped the charts for 13 weeks. There is a square named after him in central Yerevan on Abovian Street. In 1995 Charles Aznavour was appointed an Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Armenia to UNESCO. Aznavour is a member of the Armenia Fund International Board of Trustees. The organization has rendered more than $150 million in humanitarian aid and infrastructure development assistance to Armenia since 1992. Charles Aznavour was appointed as "Officier" (Officer) of the Légion d'honneur in 1997.
In 1998, Charles Aznavour was chosen as Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. Aznavour was recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.
Aznavour and Norwegian singer Sissel performing in ViennaArtists who have covered his songs and collaborated with Aznavour include Fred Astaire, Andrea Bocelli, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, José Carreras, Laura Pausini and Julio Iglesias. In 1974, Jack Jones recorded an entire album of Aznavour compositions entitled "Write Me A Love Song, Charlie", re-released on CD in 2006. Elvis Costello recorded "She" for the film Notting Hill. One of Aznavour's greatest friends and collaborators from the music industry is legendary Spanish operatic tenor Plácido Domingo, who often performs his hits, most notably a studio recording of "Les bateaux sont partis" in 1985, as well as Aznavour's "Ave Maria" several times live in 1994. Also in 1994, Aznavour performed with Domingo and Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø at Domingo's third annual Christmas in Vienna concert. The three singers performed a variety of carols, medleys, and duets, and the concert was televised throughout the world, as well as released on a CD internationally.
Charles Aznavour, a photo by Xavier Thomas.At the start of autumn in 2006, Aznavour initiated his farewell tour, performing in the US and Canada, and earning very positive reviews. Aznavour started 2007 with concerts all over Japan and Asia. The second half of 2007 saw Aznavour return to Paris for over 20 shows at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, followed by more touring in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the rest of France. He has repeatedly stated that this farewell tour, health permitting, will likely last beyond 2010. At 84, Aznavour is in excellent health. He still sings in multiple languages and without teleprompters, but typically sticks to just two or three (French and English being the primary two, with Spanish or Italian being the third) during most concerts.On September 30, 2006, Aznavour performed a major concert in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia to start off the cultural season "Arménie mon amie" in France. Former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan and French president Jacques Chirac, at the time on an official visit to Armenia, were in front-row attendance.
In 2006, 82-year old Aznavour traveled to Cuba, where he, together with Chucho Valdes, recorded his new album Colore Ma Vie, presented at Aznavour's Moscow concert in April 2007. Later, in July 2007, Aznavour was invited to perform at the Vieilles Charrues Festival.
"Forever Cool" (2007), an album from Capitol/EMI, features Aznavour singing a new duet of "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" with the voice of the late Dean Martin.
Aznavour finished a tour of Portugal in February 2008. On January 18, 2008 he participated as guest vocalist with the contestants of the French reality show Star Academy and sang his famous Emmenez-Moi with contestant Jérémy Chapron. Throughout the spring of 2008, Aznavour toured South America, holding a multitude of concerts in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.