Nolwenn Le Magueresse (born 28 September 1982 in Saint-Renan, Brittany, France), known by her stage name Nolwenn Leroy (French pronunciation: [nolwɛn ləʁwa]), is a French singer-songwriter, musician and voice actress.
Originally classically trained (violin and opera singing), she rose to fame after winning the second season of the French television music competition Star Academy, in 2002. She has since recorded seven studio albums and scored two number one singles, “Cassé” and “Nolwenn Ohwo!”, on the French charts. In 2012, her album Bretonne was certified two times diamond for sales exceeding one million copies.
Leroy is fluent in English, having spent a year in the US as an exchange student. She sings in many languages, including French, Breton, English and Irish. She has also performed in Italian and Spanish.
Leroy has received numerous awards and nominations. In January 2015, she was ranked 17th on Le Journal du Dimanche’s 50 Most Loved Celebrities in France, making her the top female singer on the list since December 2012.
2012–16: Ô Filles de l’Eau
Leroy’s fifth album, Ô Filles de l’eau, was released on 26 November 2012, preceded by the lead single “Juste pour me souvenir”. The album was produced by Jon Kelly and recorded in London. The title reads ‘O Daughters of the Water’ but is phonetically similar to ‘au fil de l’eau’ (‘with the current/flow’). Like Bretonne, it contains Celtic inspired music but with more ocean themed lyrics. It includes two tracks in English (“Homeland” and “Limitless”). “Homeland” contains the James Horner composed theme of the film Braveheart. “Ahès” is the only Breton-language song of the album. Leroy wrote and co-composed 9 songs, including the singles “Juste pour me souvenir”, “Sixième continent”, “J’ai volé le lit de la mer” and “Ophélia”. The album cover was created by Australian artist Vee Speers, inspired by her portrait series, Immortal. Reviews of the album were strong, with some praising Leroy’s vocal ability and Celtic music and lyrics, noting that her singing in English and Breton was brave and proved her to be an evolving artist, with strong sales to match. Two months after its release, the album was certified triple platinum by the SNEP. Furthermore, it was named RTL’s Album of the Year 2013.
In 2013, Leroy toured France, Belgium and Switzerland in support of the album. Additionally, she was a special guest soloist on Vladimir Cosma’s symphonic tour in France. In early 2014, she was nominated at the World Music Awards for the first time, in four categories: World’s Best Album (Bretonne), World’s Best Entertainer, World’s Best Female Artist, and World’s Best Live Act.
In 2014, she provided several songs in English and French for the Academy Awards-nominated animated film Song of the Sea, and voiced the character of Bronagh in the film’s French version. On 3 May 2014, Leroy performed the Breton anthem “Bro Gozh ma Zadoù” at the Stade de France before 80,000 spectators, for the 2014 Coupe de France Final (aired on France 2) opposing two Breton clubs, the Stade Rennais to EA Guingamp.
Leroy’s second live CD/DVD, Ô Tour de L’Eau, recorded in Saint-Brieuc, was released on 1 December 2014. In March 2015, she embarked on an acoustic tour in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
On 11 June 2015, she was invited to talk about her career at Oxford University. In November 2015, Leroy announced that she would perform at Celtic Connections in Glasgow’s City Halls on 30 January 2016, along with Karen Matheson.
On 13 May 2017, she released “Gemme”, the first single from her sixth studio album Gemme (English: Gem), produced in London by Jamie Ellis. The album was released on 1 September 2017. Leroy wrote and co-composed most of the songs. The album features three songs in English: “Run It Down” and two poems by Edgar Allan Poe set to music (“A Dream” and “The Lake”). The other songs are in French. “Stephen” refers to a theory by Stephen Hawking. A Limited Edition was released on 8 December 2017, including two remixes and two acoustic versions. In March 2018, Leroy embarked on the 55-date Gemme Tour through France, Belgium and Switzerland.