Corneille Nyungura was born on March 24, 1977, in Fribourg, Germany, to his parents who were completing their University studies there. He lived there for 6 years, until he was brought to live in his country of origin, Rwanda. He lived in a village for a short time, before moving to Rwanda's capitol, Kigali.
Corneille developed an interest in music early on, and it was an interest his father supported and encouraged. His influences included Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole as well as Prince and other artists.
At 16 years old Corneille made his first recording, and was selected as a finalist in a music contest sponsored by the state run television station in Kigali. Corneille's childhood could be characterized as normal for a somewhat privileged youth brought up in a family with caring, highly educated parents.
Daily life in Kigali changed dramatically in 1994, when former President Habyarimana was assassinated, and the largest, most horrific genocide in modern history claimed over 800,000 victims.
Corneille managed to escape first to Kinshasa, and then to Germany, where he was adopted by friends of his parents. He stayed in Germany for three years completing his baccalaureate studies, before arriving ultimately in Montréal. Corneille enrolled in University when he landed in Montréal, but his focus was immediately diverted to music.
In Montréal at 20 years old, Corneille formed a band called O.N.E., meaning Original New Element. O.N.E. achieved modest success, thanks in part to a Ms. Jodi Richards, who supported and advised the band. When O.N.E. disbanded in 2001, Corneille again turned to Ms. Richards for advice. Ms. Richards imparted the belief that you are only an artist when you know what your art means, which became a guiding principal for Corneille.
In 2002 Corneille released his first studio album, 'Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin.' Initially, 'Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin' went for the most part unnoticed in Canada, but due in large part to promotional efforts made by Wagram, Corneille's label in France, Corneille's first album's sales skyrocketed. 'Ensemble' and 'Sans Rancunes,' were the first two hit singles from the album. Sales of 'Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin' gathered powerful momentum, but the album was still virtually unnoticed in Canada. DKD's (now DEJA Musique CEO) Janie Duquette completely re-released the album, with 'Rêves de Star' as the first single. By 2004 sales of 'Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin' on both sides of the Atlantic were booming. With sales reaching Platinum status in Canada, Corneille received his first Felix Award for Best Male Artist selected by the public at the 'Gala de la Disque' in Montréal. Meanwhile in France sales of the album reached over 500,000 copies. Now, sales of 'Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin' are at over a million.
In 2005 Corneille's ascent continued, as he recorded a song with Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour, in support of Unicef and the fight against AIDS. Corneille is a Red Cross Canada spokeperson, has been made a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, and continues to be active in those and other humanitarian roles.
In 2005 Corneille's second studio album, 'Les Marchands de Rêves' was released to rave critical reviews, and is currently enjoying strong sales in both Canada in France. 'Les Marchands de Rêves' with an adult appeal, underlines Corneille's diversity as a songwriter. In addition to an overwhelming fan welcome in Senegal during a festival in 2005, Corneille has performed representing Canada at Aichi Expo in Japan, and has completed several tours in Europe and Canada. A large tour and France in the Spring of 2006 included 60 dates, and had a total attendance of over 200,000 fans, and was followed by an acoustic tourin the Fall of 2006. In December 2006, Corneille performed at Montréal's Centre Bell to rave reviews.
2007 continues to be a remarkable year for Corneille. In his 30th year, Corneille earned and signed contracts with Sony Music Japan, and with UniversalMotown for the World ex-Japan (SMJI), France (Wagram) & Canada (DEJA). With these partners, as well as Universal Music Group partners in the UK and elsewhere, and with help from all of you at corneille.ca, Corneille's fanbase is becoming truly global.
On November 20, 2007, Corneille was given the award for best International Singer-songwriter by SOCAN. Look for 'The Birth of Cornelius' US' release on UniversalMOTOWN in 2008. Corneille, a man of this world, and an artist whose time is now...