Charles Aznavour (ʊər/; French: [ʃaʁl aznavuʁ]; born Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian, Armenian: Շահնուր Վաղինակ Ազնավուրյան; 22 May 1924 – 1 October 2018)[A] was a French-Armenian singer, lyricist, and diplomat. Aznavour was known for his distinctive tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. In a composer/singer/songwriter career spanning over 70 years, he recorded more than 1,200 songs interpreted in nine languages. He wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs for himself and others.
Aznavour was one of France's most popular and enduring singers. He sold 180 million records during his lifetime and was dubbed France's Frank Sinatra, while music critic Stephen Holden described Aznavour as a "French pop deity". He was also arguably the most famous Armenian of his time. In 1998, Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. He was recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.Jean Cocteau said: "Before Aznavour, despair was unpopular".
Aznavour sang for presidents, popes and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events. In response to the 1988 Armenian earthquake, he founded the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresarioLevon Sayan. In 2009, he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva. He started his most recent tour in 2014.
During the German occupation of France during World War II, Aznavour and his family hid “a number of people who were persecuted by the Nazis, while Charles and his sister Aida were involved in rescue activities.” Their work was recognized in a statement issued in 2017 by Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel. That year, Aznavour and Aida received the Raoul Wallenberg Award for their wartime activities. "The Aznavours were closely linked to the Missak ManouchianResistance Group and in this context they have offered shelter to Armenians, Jews and others at their own Paris flat, risking their own lives."