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Lio is a singer and actress who first rose to fame in France and Belgium during the new wave era. With collaborators that included Jacques Duvall, John Cale, and Sparks, she is best known for '80s hits such as "Le Banana Split" and "Fallait Pas Commencer." Honing a more sophisticated sound but staying in the realm of synth pop, she continued to release albums every few years, and returned to the singles chart in 2007 with the dance track "Les Matins de Paris," with Teki Latex. Maintaining a parallel acting career since her 1985 film debut in Elsa, Elsa, she's appeared in over 40 movies, including work with directors such as Claude Lelouch, Catherine Breillat, and Yolande Moreau. She is the older sister of singer/actress Helena Noguerra, aka Helena.
Born Wanda Maria Ribeiro Furtado Tavares de Vasconcelos in Mangualde, Portugal in 1962, she moved to Brussels, Belgium in 1968 following her parents' divorce. Her mother and stepfather welcomed her sister Helena to the family a year later. While in her teens, de Vasconcelos decided she wanted to be a singer and took the name Lio from a character in Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella comic books.
With the encouragement of family friend Jacques Duvall, an aspiring lyricist who went on to co-write some of her hits, she began working with songwriter Jay Alanski. Still a teenager, her first single, the bubbly synth pop tune "Le Banana Split," was penned by Duvall and Alanski and went to number one in France. Her cover of punk band Stinky Toys' "Amoureux Solitaires" topped the chart a year later. Lio's self-titled debut LP, which included those songs as well as the Top 20 hit "Amicalement Votre," climbed to number nine on the French album chart in 1980. Two years later, Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks helped put together the collection Suite Sixtine, which featured English versions of some of her prior songs alongside previously unreleased tracks and B-sides. With production by Alain Chamfort, her sophomore album, Amour Toujours, followed in 1983.
Lio made her feature film debut at the age of 23 as the title character in the 1985 romantic comedy Elsa, Elsa. She was back onscreen a year later in the musical comedy Golden Eighties. Meanwhile, John Cale produced some of the tracks on her third LP, Pop Model, also released in 1986. It returned her to the Top 20 of the singles chart three times over, including the number five hit "Fallait Pas Commencer." She was then cast in Claude Lelouch's 1988 film Itinéraire d'un Enfant Gâté and continued to appear in films throughout the '90s, including dubbing a character for the French version of the 1991 animated film Rock-A-Doodle. In the meantime, she released the albums Can Can (1988), Des Fleurs Pour un Caméléon (1991), and Wandatta (1996), which gradually updated her sound while remaining in the territory of playful Europop.
In 2000, she released Je Suis Comme Ça: Lio Chante Prévert, an album of piano and accordion-accompanied French chanson featuring the lyrics of poet Jacques Prévert. The live album Cœur de Rubis followed in 2003, and the studio LP Dîtes au Prince Charmant arrived in 2005. That year also saw the release of Pop Box: 25 Years in Pop, a seven-CD box set with bonus tracks and a DVD. She followed it by returning to danceable electropop in 2007 as the featured singer on the Teki Latex single "Les Matins de Paris." It reached number 14 on France's singles chart, making it her first Top 20 in 20 years. Still acting frequently on the big screen and increasingly on television, that same year she also appeared as a singer in the Catherine Breillat film The Last Mistress. In 2009, she put out a collaborative album with the band Phantom.
As Lio continued to find regular work as an actress in the 2010s, she had her biggest gap between records yet, taking nine years between Phantom Featuring Lio and 2018's Lio Canta Caymmi. A covers album conceived by Duvall, it featured Lio performing 12 songs by Brazilian samba musician Dorival Caymmi. ~ Marcy Donelson
- Mangualde, Portugal
- 17 Jun 1962
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