Well established on the international scene, and considered one of the foremost vocal groups in Europe, the Voice Messengers are composed of six singers accompanied by a rhythm section (piano, upright bass, drums).
With the help of sophisticated and joyful arrangements penned by pianist and leader Thierry Lalo, the Voice Messengers form a veritable vocal big band, with singers standing in for horns. Voices are often treated as instruments in a writing style that sets up to three different sections in simultaneous counterpoint, calling to mind the energy, the color, and above all the spirit of the great jazz orchestras of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, and Quincy Jones.
As in an instrumental big band, the singers step up one by one as soloists, delivering their own interpretations of an eclectic repertoire that is a cocktail of rearranged standards, compositions by modern jazz musicians, and sections of musical comedies, sung in English, French, and pure onomatopoeia.
Under the simple yet spirited staging of Jean-Marc Hoolbecq, the Voice Messengers also interpret a selection of poems pulled from the great French classics (Appolinaire, Baudelaire, Verlaine…), and from authors as unexpected as Oscar Milosz or Marguerite Yourcenar. These texts, set to music by Thierry Lalo, bring another facet of exchange between jazz and the French language.
Since its creation in 1994, the group, which was originally composed of eleven singers (and then fourteen between 2000 and 2004), has performed in a great number of prestigious concert halls and festivals in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and in the Baltic states.
With the release of their album Un peu de ménage (Tidying up) (1998), which received praise across the board, many considered them the obvious inheritors of the Double Six tradition, including Double Six founder herself, Mimi Perrin. The Voice Messengers were quickly invited by the Orchestre National de France for a series of West Side Story concerts at the Festival de Saint-Denis.
In 1999, at the heart of an extremely creative period where Cécile Rigazio played a central role as lyricist, the group performed for the first time at l’Européen in Paris (an experience that they would successfully recreate in 2007 and again in 2011).
Particularly fond of musical exchange and collaboration, the Voice Messengers regularly bring to the stage or studio musicians as varied as trumpettist Jean-Loup Longnon, multi-instrumentalist Stan Laferrière, singers Michele Hendricks and Patricia Ouvrard, guitarist Jérôme Barde, pianist and composer Laurent Cugny, and percussionist Pape Dieye.
In 2000 and 2001, they collaborated extensively with legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, creating original polyphonic versions of pieces he had composed to French poetry, initially for solo voice, and performing them on the stage of the St Germain Auditorium in Paris.
In parallel, pianist Antoine Hervé composed many new pieces for the Voice Messengers, including a «Haendel Medley», which they would bring to the stage alongside the Symphonic Orchestra of Halle in Germany, at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Haendelfestspiel in 2001.
Trombonist Glenn Ferris, an American having long lived in France, regularly sat in with the group, and interpreted many of his own compositions onstage with them between 2001 and 2005.
The album Lumières d’automne was the fruit of these many encounters and experiences. This record, the group’s opus prime in its current eight-singer format, received the Academie of Jazz’ Prix du Jazz Vocal in 2008, the first time this honor was bestowed on a French ensemble.
The spirited choreography of Anne-Marie Gros has enriched the Voice Messengers’ performances since their 2009-2010 season. Captivating lighting designs have also added to the group’s visual dimension. New arrangements and compositions in tow, the group set off on tour in Autumn 2011 with a show entitled Back in Town!.
2011 was also the year that saw Thierry Lalo receive the Prix Maurice Yvain from the SACD (French performing-rights Society for Dramatic Composers and Authors). This distinction recognized the totality of his work writing music, both in the context of his jazz-operas and in his near twenty years’ service arranging and composing as leader and director of the Voice Messengers.
Originally from Quebec, Sylvain has sung bass-baritone for the Voice Messengers since 2005. His enticing crooner tone, his vocal style, and his taste for improvisation give away the strong influence of Mel Tormé and Kurt Elling. After an encounter with Luc Plamondon that set him on the path to singing, Sylvain studied voice and jazz at Laval University in Quebec (under Pierre Lessard and Michel Donato) and at the University of Montreal (under Mario Vigneault), before perfecting his technique at the sides of Madeleine Thériault, a specialist in Broadway and musical comedy. A guitarist and extremely well-rounded musician, Sylvain has taught jazz voice since his arrival in France in 2003, particularly at the American School of Paris since 2011.
Lyricist, composer and jazz singer, Vanina has followed an original path. She began by studying piano, then took a slight detour to obtain a degree as an engineer, and finally moved to Paris to study jazz at the Bill Evans Piano Academy. Since then, she has been involved in many projects, as singer, lyricist, composer, and arranger: her original jazz compositions “L’Extravagant Ordinaire; le “Trio Barré” an homage to Serge Gainsbourg with the guitarist Samy Daussat; “Los Milonguitas”, jazz tango; “Le Son du Roupillon”, jazz lullabies with voice and harp… These varied projects represent styles she loves, and they reveal her personality, leading her to perform at renowned festivals, clubs and theaters: Le Printemps de Bourges, Jazz in Marciac, La Cigale, Le Palais de Congrès du Mans, Le Duc des Lombards, as well as on radio networks like TSF Jazz.
Vanina joined the “Voices Messengers” in 2016 as a mezzo-soprano.
The Colombian composer and singer Andrea Gomez began her musical training at the age of 7, with piano, guitar, and musical theater. She entered various national competitions with original compositions during her school years and at a young age won several awards. It was then that she chose singing as her main pursuit.
Andrea spent 5 years at the Colombian conservatory “El Bosque” in Bogota after graduating from high school and received a degree in music. It was there that she developed a passion for jazz. She decided to follow her growing passion to Paris, where she is finishing her last year of specialization in jazz at the conservatory in Bobigny.
She explored the many facets of jazz with her quartet before moving to France, as well as arrangements of traditional Colombian music. Her project Akalia paved the way for her on the Parisian musical scene and she regularly performs traditional Latin-American music and jazz with this group.
Andrea became a soprano for the vocal jazz group The Voice Messengers in 2016. She is also developing a personal project of original compositions and arrangements, which will include release of a CD.
Born in Denmark, Rose is the Voice Messengers' high soprano, in most arrangements playing the essential role of big band style “first trumpet”. Rose has performed in musical comedies since the age of 11 (as Cosette in «Les Misérables»), and developed her vocal technique in the Radio Denmark Girls Choir, the group Ladies' Delight, and above all the fabulous a capella vocal group Touché (directed by Jesper Holm), with whom she won numerous prizes. Rose joined the Voice Messengers in 2009.
Emmanuel Lanièce studied piano and voice at the “Maîtrise de Caen” with Robert Weddle, during his school years in Normandy. At the University Rennes 2, he studied musicology and jazz piano. He received degrees in voice and choral direction from the CFMI and the Rennes Conservatory. Emmanuel was choir director at the Center for Sacred Music at Sainte-Anne d’Auray for two years and also taught ear training at the American School in Paris.
Live performance was very important to Emmanuel during the time he was studying and teaching. Interested in many styles, he sang as soloist or choir member in several groups. He was a singer, actor, multi-instrumentalist in the comedic musical trio “Triwap”, which performed close to 160 shows in France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. He was a member of the vocal jazz group Egregor Vocal and performed opera with the vocal ensemble Mélisme, and at the Théatre des Champs Elysées, the Rennes Opera, the Maîtrise de Caen, the Royal Chapel of Versailles, and the Festival de la Chaise-Dieu.
He has been a tenor with the The Voice Messengers since 2016.
Augustin was born into a family where polyphonic singing was frequent in 1990. At 13 he developed a passion for rap and hip-hop, composing lyrics and music. At 18, he discovered baroque music and began to sing in a small choir which he ended up leading when he was 20.
The following year, he moved to London to study at a large Protestant church with a staff of professional musicians. He received demanding vocal training there and was introduced to jazz. In 2012 he began the five year program in jazz at the IMEP, formerly “The American School”, in Paris searching for rhythm and harmony. At the same time, he studied classical tragedy with Rafaelle Minnaert, playing the role of Orestes in Racine’s “Andromaque” several times. Introduced to hip-hop dance by Jann Gallois, he choreographed several pieces for video clips in 2015.
He has been a baritone with the The Voice Messengers since 2016.
A Voice Messengers stronghold since the group's creation, Gilles Naturel is one of the most sought-after upright bassists on the jazz scene. Heavily influenced by the bebop generation (Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, Thelonious Monk...), his style of play hints at that of the illustrious Paul Chambers. As a leader and composer, he has written and produced numerous albums under his own name (Naturel (1996), Belleville (2008) and Contrapuntic Jazz Band (2011), all nominated by the french Jazz Academy). He is regularly invited to play with top-shelf musicians, having appeared, for example, with Benny Golson and Johnny Griffin (ts), Art Farmer (tpt), Ray Bryant, Alain Jean-Marie and Michel Legrand (p), Didier Lockwood (vln), Jean-Loup Longnon (tpt), and vocalists such as Jeanne Lee and Sarah Lazarus.
The Voice Messengers' drummer since 2011, Frédéric Delestré has become one of the highest-level big band specialists on the French jazz scene, notably co-directing the Jean-Loup Longnon Big Band since 2006. A graduate of Paris' CNSM, a trained arranger and composer as well as performer, he has performed onstage at all the Parisian jazz clubs (Petit Opportun, Duc des Lombards, Sunset...), France's most recognized jazz festivals (Marciac, Vienne, Coutances, Parc Floral, La Villette…), as well as numerous other festivals in Europe and Africa. In small groups, his eclectic range, his rhythmic flexibility, and the high caliber of his musicianship have benefited musicians as varied as Sébastien Jarousse, Ahmet Gulbay, Didier Lockwood, Manuel Rocheman, Rick Margitza, David El Malek, Jerry Bergonzi... Among his other skills, Frédéric is also a brilliant linguist and renowned pedagogue, he holds a D.E. (State Diploma) in Jazz, and has taught percussion in Versailles and at the Conservatories of the Tenth and Seventeenth Arrondissements in Paris since 2004.
Pianist, founder of the Voice Messengers, and director of the group since its creation in 1994, Thierry's inspiration comes from 50s and 60s “mainstream” jazz- the name of the group is a nod to the Jazz Messengers- but also from Western vocal polyphony from the 16th to the 20th century, repertoire he himself has sung extensively. His arrangements and compositions, which form the core of the Voice Messengers' repertoire, indicate a double-influence from instrumental big bands (Ellington, Basie, Quincy Jones, Sammy Nestico...) and certain historical and modern vocal groups (Hi-Lo’s, Double Six/Take 6, Real Group…). Thierry has also authored five jazz operas since 2001 (most notably for the CREA and the Maîtrise de Radio-France). His work earned him the New Musical Talent Award (2002) and the Maurice Yvain Award (2011) from the SACD (French performing-rights Society for Dramatic Composers and Authors). A devoted pedagogue, he regularly leads vocal workshops and master-classes in band direction or writing, both in France and abroad (Germany, Denmark, Italy, Estonia...).