France Joli was born France Joly (yes, with a “y”) in Montreal, Quebec, on January 26, 1963. Singing and performing was already in her blood, as she began performing as a child to entertain her relatives. By age six she made her professional foray into show business by appearing on television. By the time she was eleven years old Joli had already been a veteran on the small screen by appearing several commercials and talent shows.
Young disco sensation
Musician and record producer Tony Green encountered Joli, who asked him to work with her. Eventually, the young girl got to sing at Green’s home; another source cited that it was Green who discovered Joli when he spotted her singing at a school production.
At first, Green reportedly refused Joli’s invitation to be her record producer but eventually he went to work for Joli’s first album. He also wrote the potential hit “Come to Me”. Joli, then 15 years old, recorded the track along with The Sweethearts of Sigma Sound, a well-known group of session vocalists from Philadelphia, USA.
France Joli’s self-titled album was released on the disco-oriented label Prelude, in April 1979. When the young singer performed “Come to Me” at a concert in New York (as a last-minute replacement for Donna Summer), the song garnered a big boost.
“Come to Me” eventually landed on top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and stayed at that position for three weeks. The single also peaked at #15 on the Billboard pop charts, not a bad performance for a new artist. However, the relatively low placing of “Come to Me” gave an indication that audience and radio stations were growing disillusioned toward the disco genre. The single also peaked at #47 on the adult contemporary singles chart and #36 on the R&B singles chart.
The LP France Joli reached #26 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
The young singer made appearances on US television for the first time, debuting on the late-night musical variety series The Midnight Special. She later was a guest onThe Mike Douglas Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and Dinah!; Joli also appeared on a Bob Hope television special.
Her second LP Tonight was released in 1980. It carried the single “Feel Like Dancing”/”The Heart to Break the Heart” went as high as #3 on the Billboard’s dance singles rankings, but didn’t chart anywhere else – a sign that the reign of disco in the mainstream scene was virtually over. The album Tonight still managed to score a placing on the Billboard 200 at #175.
1981 saw the release of Joli’s third album Now, which was helmed by new producers Ray Reid and William Anderson. The album failed to chart this time, and its singles “Gonna Get Over You” and “Your Good Lovin'”/”Can We Fall in Love Again” only managed to score positions on the dance chart (at #2 and #53 respectively).
By this time Joli left Prelude, wanting to try something outside the disco market. She signed with Epic Records. Her albums with the major label, Attitude (1983) and Witch of Love (1985) failed to generate mainstream interest, despite the quality of songs and her strong performance. Joli was eventually dropped from the label.
Joli spent the next decade focusing more on performing. In 1996 she reunited with Green to record and release a new single “Touch,” which was released on Popular Records. It went to #24 on the Billboard dance tracks chart a year later its release; it was also to be her final charting single to date. In recent years she has performed in several clubs particularly around New York City.
Joli’s signature song “Come to Me” is featured in the 2003 documentary When Ocean Meets Sky as well as in the 1998 drama film 54.