France Joli joined the 2020 Ultimate Disco Cruise lineup singing out her disco gems to adoring fans. Disco would not be the same without the talented Joli – most well known for her famed single, “Come to Me.”
The thriving songstress continues to reinvent herself and release new songs winning over an entirely new generation of fans. On July 7, 1979, Joli found instant stardom when the then 16-year old performed “Come To Me” on Fire Island. A crowd of 5000 at the infamous Beach ’79 benefit show cheered her on – propelling the teen to icon status. Selling three million copies globally the song shot up to number one on worldwide disco charts. It made it to 15 on Billboard’s pop chart.
Joli Continues Her Stardom Journey
Actively performing as fans cheer, Joli belts out her winners of “Come to Me,” “Gonna Get Over You,” “The Heart to Break the Heart,” and “Feel Like Dancing” as she tours. It is truly evident as one watches her performance aboard the Ultimate Disco Cruise.
“Come To Me” is so iconic that Joli is winning new young fans who instantly know the tune and her voice. The lovely Joli welcomes all who come see her perform and interacts with her adoring audience. She shows her honest love for them as she takes to the stage.
What seems to keep this artist relevant is that she is always pushing herself to do new endeavors. In 2012, Joli took Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” and recorded her own dance version of the piece releasing a video that she shot in Palm Springs, California. As she did in Fire Island, Joli once again became a hit quickly with “Hallelujah” in the summer of 2012. This was specifically evident in the gay-friendly Provincetown in Massachusetts – where she took to the stage during Carnival Week.
Joli Wins Over Off-Broadway and Broadway
Following her new hit, Joli made her Off-Broadway theatrical debut in January 2013. She had a one night sold out appearance playing herself as the wedding officiator in the play written by Anthony J. Wilkinson.
The disco legend proved such a hit that Joli returned for another appearance in the show in July 2013. She went on to make a follow-up appearance in the Off-Broadway sequel, “My Big Gay Italian Funeral.”
In 2016 the Broadway musical “Disaster!” brought “Come To Me” to the Great White Way as a showcased song in the Seth Rudetsky fabulous show. Rudetsky wrote the show featuring fave disco songs as a parody of the 1970s disaster movies. Joli made her Broadway debut on April 3, 2016, to sing her iconic song on stage at the Nederlander Theatre. She appeared with the cast to sing before curtain call as part of a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Interview with Joli
Joli’s status as a disco icon is evident with James Arena’s featuring the singer in his 2013 best-seller “First Legends of Disco.” She wrote the foreword for the book as well.
Carol Ruth Weber: What shocked you the most about your instant fame with “Come To Me”?
France Joli: That I came from this little place in Montreal called Doirion, and I never thought my first ever recording was going to be a worldwide hit, it was shocking. What was also shocking was the first time I went to the record company in New York – I couldn’t believe that my face was plastered everywhere.
CRW: At such a young age, you became an icon for the gay community during a time when many where afraid to come out – did that help form who you are today?
FJ: Absolutely, I wouldn’t be the person I am without their support and exposure to their community – how they felt and how they were, and still are, fighting for their rights. I am forever grateful. I was only 16 and very inexperienced so I was extremely appreciative of their culture and their community embracing me. I fell in love with them right away without any judgement – it was an instant love affair. I’ve always been invited back into gay communities.
I learned at a very young age that they needed support, and at a very young age, I provided the support. I almost feel like a spokesperson for the gay community. What I’ve done was got to the homophobes and turned them around. It’s about loving the community unconditionally and them loving me unconditionally back.
CRW: What are your joys in life beyond the entertainment industry?
FJ: I am a painter, I write songs, and I recycle old garments and add bling to them to make them into something totally new. I design my own clothes. I have a seamstress who knows what I want and she makes the pattern and builds it exactly to by designs.
CRW: Is there anything you would have done differently as you grew into adulthood as a performer?
FJ: Yes, of course, we all have regrets. I understand that there is a path we go on to grow. If I could talk to my younger self I would tell her you are okay the way you are, you don’t have to hide, to trust yourself, to love yourself, to appreciate yourself, and don’t try to make yourself into someone different.
If you want to sell yourself, you better know yourself. You’ve got to know your long-term goal so you can achieve it. And, to be careful of the business because people can take advantage of you.
CRW: What do you have planned for 2020 and beyond – and what do you hope to do?
FJ: I have kind of a side thing that I want to do this year. I want to help people recycle clothing remaking pieces by adorning with ornaments to alter them for a new garment.
CRW: Was the Ultimate Disco Cruise all you dreamed it would be?
FJ: And more! I’ll tell you something – what I get from it is on a personal level is that I get to see other artists perform and be on the boat with all the fans and the other performers. What I love is the encouragement from the other artists. I am a fan as well of all the disco artists out there.
What I love about this is the fans of this music persevered even though disco had a bad rap – and they continue fighting to keep the music alive. I wear my music as a badge of honor.
Joli Reinvents Herself While Continuing Disco Performances
The lovely lady never seems to take a break from performing. She enjoyed performing with the First Ladies of Disco in Palm Springs. Joli with the First Ladies of Disco united 12 disco greats on one stage for the first time ever performing at both Jeffrey Sanker’s The White Party and Evening Under the Stars for a historic Desert AIDS benefit.
Following the lead of some of her fans, Joli has reinvented herself with a new hour-long show. Debuting at The Copa Nightclub in Palm Springs on March 9, 2018, Joli changed up from her usual 30-minute disco performance to an hour-long expression of her talent. She made an impact with a new medley of popular LGBTQ+ anthems as she also merged ballads and stories into her act.
Joli released her newest single on June 1, 2018, “Don’t Forget to Dance,” that she co-wrote and co-produced. As she continues to be a heartfelt spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community the song is part of the compilation album “Love is Love,” in which 10% of net proceeds benefit Family Equality Council. The non-profit’s mission is to advance equality for LGBTQ families.
With the glorious Joli just celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Come To Me,” in 2019 she has now certainly made a splash on the 2020 Ultimate Disco Cruise.