Lewis Furey | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Lewis Furey

Lewis Furey (b Greenblatt). Composer, singer, pianist, violinist, actor, b Montreal, of French-US parents, 7 Jun 1949.

Furey, Lewis

Lewis Furey (b Greenblatt). Composer, singer, pianist, violinist, actor, b Montreal, of French-US parents, 7 Jun 1949. After studying the violin privately, Lewis Furey made his Montreal Symphony Orchestra debut at 11 as soloist in a young people's concert, then studied 1961-5 at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal with Calvin Sieb and 1964-7 at the Juilliard School in New York, with Ivan Galamian. In 1974 he turned to pop music, writing and singing (in English) the music on three LPs: Lewis Furey (1974, A & M 4522), The Humours of Lewis Furey (1976, A & M 4594), and The Sky Is Falling (1978, Aquarius AQR 521). According to Christian Gros, his music is characterized by 'a voice that is at the same time cold and passionate, acid humour, sumptuous arrangements, [and an] atmosphere mid-way between Kurt Weill and Lou Reed.'

With the actress-singer Carole Laure, Furey appeared in Gille Carle's film L'Ange et la femme in 1976. Laure made her singing debut that year at a Furey concert in Toronto. They subsequently performed together - he playing violin or piano, she singing - in an untitled revue by Furey staged first in 1978 in Paris to great acclaim, and then in Montreal. A second show was mounted in Paris in 1979. The couple eventually married. Furey produced several of Laure's LPs, beginning with Alibis (1978, RCA KKL1-0290), which included several of his songs previously recorded in English. Among them was 'Lullabye,' which, as 'J'ai une chanson,' was a hit in 1978 for Laure in Quebec. In 1979 Furey wrote music for, and appeared with Laure in, Carle's movie musical Fantastica.

Additional Projects

Furey also has composed music for television and several other feature films, eg, Maria Chapdelaine; his score for Carle's La Tête de Normande St-Onge won at the Canadian Film Awards in 1976. In 1984 he wrote the screenplay and music for the film Night Magic with Leonard Cohen, a whimsical musical drama that featured Laure. In 1989, Furey produced the record Western Shadows (with his arrangements and piano performance), a collection of country and western songs that won the Grand prix du disque de l'Académie Charles-Cros in 1991. Following this triumph, Laure made a extensive European tour and performed notably at the Festival de La Rochelle, in France.

Giving up his own recording career, Furey instead focused on writing and directing and on collaborations with his wife. Among his directing engagements were revivals of Starmania (Montreal, 1994; Paris, 1993 and 1999). For Laure's albums, eg, She Says Move On (1991) and Sentiments naturels (1997), he composed new material. Their show based on the latter, mounted in Paris in 1998, ran for over a month.

Furey has resided in France since the late 1970s. He is the brother of Richard Greenblatt (2 Pianos 4 Hands). Furey's music has been recorded by Céline Dion and Petula Clark.

Further Reading