Denez Prigent was born in Santec (north Finister) in the end of 60-es. He learnt Bretonian from his grandparents, as well as gwerz (in Bretonian: a capella narrative song on dramatic, tragic, legendary, epic basis).
At the age of fourteen Denez Prigent got to know Alain Leclere & the Caravanserai ha diskan (special art of singing, when one singer joins in the song at the last verse (word or syllable), delivered by another singer) & made appearance at the Fest Noz (night festival in Brittany). In 1987, he gained first prize in the Caravanserai ar Pobl, one of the most prestigious singing competitions in Brittany. Composition of own songs brought him two other prices in the category of traditional song and new song in Breton in 1989 and 1990.
In 1988, Denez Prigent became a professor of Breton in Carhaix, but resigned 3 years later to dedicate himself music. For a while he was presenter of the cultural broadcast of Radio-France Armorique in Breton.
During first live performances in 1992 Denez Prigent knocked down all the cliches of traditional Bretonian music. He considers, as Alan Stivell also does, that the Breton music can not survive in strict bounds of the pure tradition. Although his songs remain gwerz and caravanserai ha diskan stylistically, Denez is interested in improvised, electronic, rock & rap music as well. In 1993 he participated in a tour with Louise Ebrel Eugenie Goadec & also collaborated with Arnaud Maisonneuve from Deep Forest.
About 1996 Denez Prigent published first album a capella, partially arranged by Kristen Nogues. This album was a new revelation of his talent. Ar Gouriz Koar ( The Wax belt) had great commercial success. Henceforth Denez Prigent took part in numerous festivals in Montreux, Poland & Wales.
Next year he released a new album, Me ' Zalc' a hour Ennon UR Fulenn Aour (I keep a golden spark in me) at Rosebud / Barclay. Such musicians as Valentin Clastrier (hurdy-gurdy, plays with Jean-Marie Marchado), Kristen Nogues ( Celtic harps), Bruno Le Rouzic (biniou-braz and biniou-kozh), Loic Blejean (uillean-pipe, member of Glaz), Arnaud Rebotini, Jacques Beauchamp (Bombards), Bruno Caillat ( zarb ), Jean-Marc Illien (keyboards) and Cedric Berneau Aka DJ Nem accompanied him. This surprising and clashing mixture of traditional folk tunes & techno features allowed the Breton music exceed the national bounds & become object of interest for international music lovers.
All his lyrics are gwerziou. They tell us about horrible epidemic of the virus Ebola in Zaire (Year Droug-Reg), the factory of Copsa Mica in Romania (which he interprets with the singers Ludmila DINOVA, Ivelina BALTCHEVA and Elena BOZOVA), the prostitution in the Philippines (Ur Fulenn Aour), the infanticide in India (Ar Wezenn-Dar) and other historical events that disturb, for example the massacre in
Nyarubuye, Rwanda, which took place on April 17, 1994 . After first disc a capella, crowded with traditional songs, and second one completely composed, Irvi, the 3rd CD, takes us in a musical world with no boundaries. Irvi is a symbol: in Bretonian this word indicates the roads which connect the island with the continent or with the other islands during high and low tide. Denez is accompanied by Davy Spillane, king of uilleann-pipe, Louis Sclavis, great jazzman, Valentin Clastrier with his electroacoustique hurdy-gurdy, Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance and Bernard Cantat, singer of Noir Desire... They all come from different musical islands, but Denez Prigent's true emotion and indescribable vocals reunite them in an archipelago of genuine music.
" When I sing a gwerz, the surrounding world disappears. I feel thrown somewhere else, in a sort of spiral , where time stops. When the song is over, I feel released from something, as if washed, cleansed. Only the sacred, brilliant song has power to exorcise the evil. "
The source: www.gwerz.com & scene