Growing up, she was a tom-boy, preferring to play with the boys rather than girls. “I was always climbing trees and skating,” says the thirty-six-year-old brunette of her childhood in Nîmes, in the south of France. “Many things interested me, and I think I was pretty good at sport, but when I was fourteen I fell totally in love with singing,” says the singer, full of energy and optimism.

The career-launching moment for her singing was a performance at a talent contest. Her friends had entered her without telling her. “I was always singing and my friends would say that I should try doing with it. I had never thought about singing professionally, but my friends were serious. The contest would be the first time I was going to stand on stage. I had terrible stage fright. I clearly remember that,” she says. But her performance was a success and the jury advised Priscilia to continue singing, saying that she had a beautiful gift.

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Priscilia Le Foll
singer

On completing school, she chose not to continue with her studies. Instead, she wanted to sing professionally and perform with an orchestra. “I listened to pop stars such as Mariah Carey and Céline Dion – a massive influence for me. I liked the way she sang and the way she truly lived the moment on stage. She always has a very generous and convincing persona. However, I was more eclectic than that. I also love rock bands, like DEEP PURPLE and LED ZEPPELIN,” adds Priscilia as she sums up her music tastes.

When the dream is followed by a nightmare

The singer says she never wanted to be famous. Being a star, doing interviews and filling the front pages of tabloids was not a major motivation for her. All in all, she just wanted to be happy on stage: “Every day I can sing is a wonderful day for me. I love travelling, drawing on other artists for inspiration and sharing the stage with them. I love the costumes and visuals, but also our show’s message, which is focused on solidarity, perseverance and the importance of nature. I feel there’s a strong parallel with my remission.” Joining Cirque du Soleil® was a dream come true for her.

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Photo credit: Chris Goff

In 2017, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “That was terrible news. It hit me hard, just as it does anyone who has ever had to hear this diagnosis. At first, I was afraid I was going to die, and right after that, I feared I might never sing again,” she explains as she remembers the most difficult moments of her life. Less than three weeks after her cancer diagnosis, she underwent successfully surgery to remove the whole tumour. But there was still a long way to go.

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Photo credit: Chris Goff

A new beginning full of courage

When the anaesthesia wore off and she came to, the doctors told her she was not allowed to speak. The severe inflammation meant she couldn’t use her vocal cords for three months. There is still a risk of partially losing her voice forever. “Only after that I could start talking, very slowly, but it was really terrible. I sounded like a robot and didn’t recognise my own voice. I was very afraid I’d never be able to sing again,” she says.

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Photo credit: Vincent Deplanche

At the time, Priscilia would swing between hope and absolute despair. She couldn’t imagine life without singing, which would also spell the end of her hard-earned career. So she devoted all her remaining energy to working towards complete recovery. After three long months, Priscilia could finally start from the very beginning again. “I felt like a little child learning to walk. I was entirely incapable of using my vocal cords,” she remembers. Thanks to her vocal coach, speech therapist, kinesiologist and her own determination, she achieved the near-impossible. Not only did she return to her original singing strength, she was able to gain a wider vocal range in the process. With daily technical exercises and different therapies, she returned to the stage four months after the surgery to slowly integrate into the Cirque du Soleil touring show in New Zealand, a country she had dreamt of visiting.

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Photo credit: Vincent Deplanche

Don't let nonsense bother you

Today, Priscilia reflects on her fight with cancer with respect, humbleness and gratitude. Overcoming the disease has been a win-win situation for her. “I believe cancer has changed my life. I am enjoying every millisecond of it today and definitely don’t fret over insignificant nonsense,” she says with a smile. She has stopped planning her life and decided to live for the present, day to day. She relies o  her intuition and momentary mood. But there’s one small dream she still has. One day, she would like to combine the two loves of her life. “I used to figure-skate when I was young and recently started training on ice again. I’d like to skate and sing in one show, now that would be something! “

Beyond all that, she doesn’t rule out the possibility of opening a small restaurant one day, where all her friends and family would gather. If there’s a lesson this challenge brought her, it’s that you never know what tomorrow will bring… so you must make the best of every day and keep moving forwards!

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Photo credit: Chris Goff

© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. TORUK THE FIRST FLIGHT and JAMES CAMERON’S AVATAR are trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. Cirque du Soleil is a trademark owned by Cirque du Soleil and used under license.

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