Essaï Altounian is a French-Armenian singer, songwriter, keyboardist, music producer and an actor with a charming voice who touched hearts in Europe and overseas. For Essai, music has served as a means of connecting people, and joining hearts. For him, it is the universal language, a message of peace, which is filling hearts and souls with joy.
Being of Armenian origin Essai lived and debuted in France. His grandparents escaped from Kharpet during the Armenian Genocide. At the age of 5 his grandfather Nechane escaped from Der zor desert after his mother and sisters were killed in front of him. He walked alone in the desert when some Bedouins found him crying and decided to keep him. At the age of 18 he met a cousin in market by chance and moved to France to live with his other cousins that survived. In France he met Essai’s grandmother, learned French and worked hard for his family.
Essaï grew up listening to the stories about the Armenian Genocide and his grandfather even wrote a book to never forget what happened to him and to the Armenian people in 1915. The book is called “The Child of the Desert” and now Essaï believes that it is his turn to talk and sing about this story that can never be forgotten.
At the age of 12 Essaï composed his first song and at the age of 19 signed a contract with Sony France as lead singer of the urban and pop idol group “Ideal-3”. The Pop/urban inspired top ten hit “Pardonne-moi” and was played on all major French radio stations, including NRJ and Fun Radio. The band toured all of the major venues and arenas of the time. They also appeared on numerous television shows including Jacques Martin. Essaï left his law studies at the Jean Monnet University Paris XI, to pursue his passion for music.
When Essai was 21 he left the band and signed a solo contract with Mercury Universal. As a solo artist he began to receive many invitations from different TV shows including invitations to write and produce for other artists. Essaï was approached to contribute his inspiration and artistic sensitivity to artists like Jenifer. He composed songs for her album, which eventually received the prestigious Diamond Plaque award.
Landing in the role of Count Paris in Gerard Presgurvic’s musical comedy “Romeo and Juliet” Essaï penetrated into the hearts of thousands of spectators across France, Belgium and Switzerland. The show’s album sold 2 million copies. Soon, France’s First Lady Bernadette Chirac asked him to write and produce “Un peu de moi” and within a short period of time the single went gold.
Essaï collaborated with Michel Legrand. They co-produced 25 songs together for “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” and had a successful run at Palais des Congres in Paris. Then he wrote “ Saimer est interdit ” for the famous musical comedy “Le Roi Soleil” for Warner Music France. That album went double Platinum with over 3 million tickets sold during the three years of its run. In 2008, he composed the soundtrack for the film “Incontrolabe” starring Michael Youn.
Writing and arranging musical pieces for many shows Essaï also directed entire musical productions such as mythical Parisian Cabarets, “Bobino" . Since 2010, Essaï has been the Musical Director for "La Bataille des chorales, Le grand show des enfants, Pop’s Cool, L’Ecole des fans " - all of them were on air on the TF1 channel (France).
Taking a big step across the Atlantic to the United States Essaï reached out to Kerry Gordy from Motown music (Jackson five, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and the commodores …). It was Kerry’s 14-year-old daughter who made her father pay attention, by giving him a score of 11 on a scale of 1-10. Essaï has established a collaboration with music veteran Kerry Gordy and Kerry Gordy Records (KGR). The first single, “Family” has been an up-tempo, urban song that pays homage to the sanctity of those who are closest to you. His new album will be released in the beginning of 2016.
Essaï is really concerned by the story of his grandparents and in 2015 for the centennial of the Armenian genocide, he wrote, composed and produced a song called "Je n'oublie pas / ChemMorana ", dedicated to the 1,5 million Armenian victims of the 1915 genocide.