Catherine Sauvage (born Marcelle Jeanine Saunier), born 26 May 1929 in Nancy, France and died on 20 March 1998 in Bry-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne) was a French singer and actress.
In 1940, Catherine Sauvage moved with her family into the Free Zone in Annecy. Since high school, she turned to the theater where she performed under her birth name, Janine Saulnier. After eight years of studying piano, singing and drama, she met in 1950 Léo Ferré and fell in love with his songs. From him she sang in 1952 Paris Canaille, which became a hit. In 1954, she won the “Grand Prix du Disque”, a famous French reward, for the song L’Homme, from Ferré again. On tour in Canada, she made the acquaintance of Gilles Vigneault who wrote for her Mon Pays, Le Corbeau, la Manikoutai.
Arriving in Paris, she adopts the surname Sauvage, borrowed from a childhood friend, and, began studying drama:
I did my apprenticeship with Jean-Louis Barrault, with John Vilar, Roger Blin, Marcel Marceau. […] The chance of life allowed me to be presented to Moyses, who was the director of the cabaret Le Boeuf sur le Toit. I sang him some stuff like that, recited two or three poems. As a result, Moyses hired me the next day. I used a directory with songs including Marianne Oswald. I stayed two months at the Boeuf sur le Toit — afterwards, I sang at the Quod Libet, a nightclub on 3 rue des Prés-At-Clerics.
She also performed at the cabarets L’Arlequin at 131 bis, boulevard Saint-Germain, then at L’Écluse at 15, Quai des Grands Augustins, in the sixième arrondissement.
She met Léo Ferré, whom she helped in bringing recognition to his music: “It was the meeting of my life. As a happiness never comes alone, they say, Jacques Canetti came to hear me a beautiful evening. He was always looking for artists for the record company of which he was the artistic director, as well as for [the concert hall] Les Trois Baudets that he had established. ”
Jacques Canetti hired her in 1953 and 1954 to work at Les Trois Baudets. “So I visited that cabaret on Rue Coustou for two years. Later I was featured at the Olympia, and received a grand prize for record L’Homme with Léo Ferré. ”
She has always given preference to poetry set to music. Leo Ferre and Gilles Vigneault have said they considered Sauvage their best performer. Aragon, one of her favorite poets, wrote about her: “And suddenly with her voice, like a gift, every word makes complete sense.”