Beloved French-Armenian singer-songwriter, actor, and fierce proponent of the Armenian cause Charles Aznavour has died. A spokesperson told news outlets that Aznavour passed away at his home overnight in the south east of France. He was 94 years old.
Aznavour was the son of Armenian immigrants who fled the region during the Armenian Genocide. He was born Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian on May 22, 1924 in Paris.
Man who has warmed hearts of hundreds of millions of people for 80 years is not with us anymore. This is a day of sadness, a day of mourning in our country’s & people’s history: hero of #Armenia Charles #Aznavour has died. This is a universal loss. #NP pic.twitter.com/qaUqD8TFIX
— Government of Armenia (@armgov) October 1, 2018
World leaders join the international community in mourning Aznavour’s loss. On Twitter, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had invited Aznavour to Yerevan to perform at the Summit of la Francophonie. Translated from French, Macron wrote of Aznavour, “Deeply French, attached viscerally to its Armenian roots, recognized all over the world, Charles Aznavour will have accompanied the joys and sorrows of three generations. His masterpieces, his timbre, his unique radiance will survive for a long time.”
The international icon’s career spanned more than 80 years; he penned 1,300 songs and sold more than 180 million records. Aznavour also appeared in more than 60 films including François Truffaut’s 1960 drama Shoot the Piano Player.
But it was Aznavour’s rousing, melancholy lyrics that touched the hearts and lives of millions, many of whom are sharing their indelible memories of the entertainer today.
A master of the chanson, Aznavour sang of unrequited love and loss and tales about his life growing up in an immigrant family. But he also sang about topics that were considered taboo and unconventional at the time including homosexuality.
As a humanitarian, Aznavour was committed to the Armenian people. He spent his life advocating for Armenian Genocide recognition. After the devastating earthquake of 1988, he organized instrumental international relief efforts.
Aznavour had recently wrapped up a tour in Japan. He was scheduled to tour across France and Switzerland later this fall.