The Clarisse Sisters
Singing runs in the family for The Clarisse Sisters. From a very young age, Dominique, Annick & Véronique Clarisse easily harmonized. This gift has crafted their signature sound, developed around intricate vocals, polished over a thirty-year career.
When one is born on the tiny island of Mauritius around the time of independence from Great Britain, what were the chances of sharing the stage with Erasure, Basia and Incognito, Howard Jones, Matt Bianco or Chris de Burgh, years later? What were the odds of meeting Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder one day or connecting with Al Jarreau and Whitney Houston? Could they release solo albums or perform in England as TCS in the future?
Faith, determination and a clear vision all contributed to making this fairy-tale story a reality. Passion can move mountains and the girls’ father was determined to turn their gift for singing into a successful career. He became their first manager and scouted venues to give them the VIP audience that would expose them to the world. In December 1986, they were hired as singers by the place-to-be: Le St Géran Resort Golf & Spa. A hotel that was fast becoming a premium holiday destination resort for celebrities and royalties from the UK and beyond. Learning their craft with the resident band for five years, they sang international standards 6 nights a week. This was incorporated into shows with dancers and costumes, emulating the best productions from Broadway or the West End. A solid foundation for a looming international career.
At the end of 1991, Andy Bell, the lead singer of synth-pop duo Erasure was on holidays in Mauritius. Destiny decided that he would stay at Le St Géran and thus could witness The Clarisse Sisters singing… and dancing. After a couple of nights, the ERASURE manager offered Annick and Véronique, the twins, to share drinks around the pool. A pledge to join the band’s next world tour was made. 12th March 1992, Independence Day in Mauritius, saw Annick and Véronique on a flight to London, to join rehearsals. The London relocation started with a performance on Top of the Pops, when Erasure’s Abbaesque EP was topping the UK charts. A day to remember which saw the sisters meet Lionel Richie in the BBC One studios… 9 months later and after 104 gigs around Europe and North America, The Clarisse Sisters had reached new heights. As Wikipedia states, this was to be the most successful Erasure tour during which: “One will appreciate the quality of the two female backing vocalists supporting singer Andy Bell, Mauritian twin sisters Annick and Véronique Clarisse, who arguably remain the best vocalists Erasure has teamed-up with during their entire career”.
Erasure called Annick & Veronique one last time for a TV appearance on German TV, ZDF, in February 1993. “The Tank, the Swan & the Balloon” was released the same year as a VHS Erasure Live Show recorded in August 1992 at the Manchester Apollo. The concert was mastered by prime British sound-engineer Dave Bascombe, who at the time was also remixing Basia’s third studio album. Soon, a connection was established with the Polish star, who had burst onto the UK music scene in 1984, as a singer with Matt Bianco, and went solo with growing success in the USA as from 1987. The Clarisse Sisters worked 21 years for Basia, completing 6 US tours and taking part in unforgettable concerts around Europe (England, France, Italy and Poland), as well as regular visits to Japan.
In the meantime, Annick and Véronique also toured in England with Billy Ray Martin, performing on ITV’s “Later… with Jools Holland” in 1995. The same year, Annick supported China Black. In 1999, Véronique did a world tour with Acid Jazz power-house Incognito, as well as sing with Howard Jones on a UK tour. Dominique Clarisse supported Chris de Burgh for a concert in St Tropez, France, in July 2000. A year and a half later, she spent a memorable week with Whitney Houston, who at the time was vacationing in Mauritius with husband Bobby Brown. This would lead to a one-night only stage duet, performing the iconic “I will always love you”. Incidentally, in 2005, a world tour with Matt Bianco resumed a string of successful tours (from 2008 to 2015) with the twins lining up with Basia.
In May 2013, the annual FIFA Congress was held in Mauritius and The Clarisse Sisters were once again reunited on stage to perform at this ceremony broadcasted around the world. This triggered a sudden desire to write TCS songs and start a solo career! 18 months later, their first single “Papitou” was released. It was a cover of a Sega classic, by legendary Mauritian artist Ti’Frere. The “father of Sega” had first written this song in 1951… It came as no surprise that the transition from back-up singers to main act would go through a rite of passage, by singing someone else’s song. But this changed everything for The Clarisse Sisters…
This humble move to first honour their country’s musical tradition was very well received. Papitou topped the local charts (Top Sega on Kool FM – MBC radio) in March 2015. It also qualified in the 20 finalists for song of the year in Mauritius, in 2015. But most importantly, it brought a new jazzy edge to Sega, merging complex musical arrangements and intricate vocal harmonies to the genre. This tour de force had never been done before. It has yet to be redone since… This opened a TCS vision for a first album dedicated to Mauritian culture, the ladies very own tribute to their roots and a rich and diverse island. This first CD was mostly aimed at the Indian Ocean region and its linguistic grasp of Creole, French and English. Over the next 4 years, the songs from “Kaleidoscope!” found traction further afield, with chart success in Poland and concerts or festival invitations in South Africa.
In March 2020, the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns produced a positive outcome for The Clarisse Sisters. All hotels were now closed in Mauritius, and non-stop gigging, as The Clarisse Sisters had been accustomed to for nearly 35 years, was at a stand-still. It was time to focus on studio work and completing new songs. Luckily, musicians in England were also going through the same predicament. A call was made to saxophone extraordinaire & multi-instrumentalist Paul Booth, to produce the new album. By the end of May 2021, 13 tracks were completed. It is a very intimate body of work with two clear sides or atmospheres, and some unique solo tracks entirely written by Dominique, Annick and Véronique. The album was then sent to labels and publishers. In September 2021, The Clarisse Sister’s manager and co-writer went to England in search of a deal, and a subsequent release from London. By October 2021, the 2nd album was ready and the TCS newly appointed PR/Publicist in England would pledge their support to promoting this production quite emphatically: “Hi, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed listening to The Clarisse Sisters’ new album. It is a fantastic piece of work. The songs are great, and the musicianship and production are really 1st class. I’m so impressed”.
In December 2021, “Fire & Ice”, a first single featuring Basia, was released. It reached the N°2 spot on a private radio, 357FM, in Poland, in early 2022. The second single, “Gravity” was released on 25th February 2022. So far, the video clip on Youtube has found the most striking success the band has ever experienced with 40.000 views in just one month, and peaking at N°13 on Mike Read’s Heritage Chart in the UK. The new album, also called “Fire & Ice”, was released from London (through Bandcamp) on 28th February 2022. The CD worldwide distribution started on 15th March 2022. Full online digital distribution was completed on 16th June, to coincide with the release of the third single “Butterflies in June”. The Clarisse Sisters are opening a new chapter in their incredible career, with concerts in England to be announced for the summer.
After 5 years fine tuning their craft within hospitality entertainment excellence in Mauritius, 23 years as backing vocalists on world tours for leading bands from the United Kingdom, The Clarisse Sisters are entering their 7th year as solo artists with new ambitions. In a western world in transition, great music & fairy tales are more precious than ever. Come on board…and join the TCS parade!
|Year||Artist||Item||Title||N° Songs with TCS||Label|
|1993||Erasure||VHS||The Tank, the Swann & the Balloon||27||MUTE|
|1995||Basia||CD||Basia on Broadway – Live at Neil Simon Theatre||16||SONY|
|1998||Billy Ray Martin||DVD||The Videos 89-98||2||Mercury/Polygram|
|1999||Incognito||CD||No Time like the future||2||Mercury|
|2011||Basia||CD||From Newport to London – Greatest live & more||15||eOne|
|2013||Collective Album||CD||T East Coast – Side A: Sunrise & Side B: Sunset||5||DO records|
|2016||Nicolas Tariq||CD||Les insomnies de…||2||TCS Productions|