Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet (born 18 June 1961, Billericay, Essex) is an English singer, songwriter and performer noted for her bluesy contralto voice. She came to prominence as half of the duo Yazoo and since has mainly worked as a solo artist.
Her UK album sales have reached a certified 2.3 million, with over a million singles sold. All seven of her studio albums and three compilation albums have charted in the Top 30 UK Album Chart, with two of the albums reaching number one. She has also achieved nine Top 30 singles and five Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart. Her most recent album The Minutes was released in the UK on 6 May 2013.
Moyet was born in the small Essex town of Billericay to a French father and English mother. She grew up in the nearby town of Basildon, where she attended Markhams Chase Junior School and then Nicholas Comprehensive at secondary level. Upon leaving school at 16, she worked as a shop assistant and trained as a piano tuner. She also worked in the cosmetic company Yardley. She was involved in a number of punk rock, pub rock and blues bands in the South East Essex area during the late 1970s and early 1980s, including the Vandals, the Screamin’ Ab Dabs, the Vicars and the Little Roosters (the latter featuring Garrie Lammin, formerly of Cock Sparrer).
At the age of 21, her mainstream pop career began in 1982 with the formation of the synthpop duo Yazoo with former Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke. In the United States, the band operated under the name Yaz, due to trademark issues with the Yazoo Records record label already operating in the region. Yazoo had several hits, including “Only You”, “Don’t Go”, “Situation” and “Nobody’s Diary”, and recorded two albums, Upstairs at Eric’s and You and Me Both.
In 1983, Moyet and Clarke decided to disband Yazoo. While Clarke went on to form The Assembly (another duo, this time with Eric Radcliffe) and then Erasure (a duo again, with Andy Bell), Moyet signed to CBS, and began her solo career.
During mid-2008, Moyet reunited with Clarke as Yazoo for a series of live dates.
In 1984, Moyet released her debut solo album Alf (titled after her punk-era nickname). Alf was produced by the record producing and songwriting team of Jolley & Swain. The album was co-written by the duo and Moyet, with the exception of “Invisible”, which was written for Moyet by Lamont Dozier. The record was a hit in Britain, reaching No. 1 in the album chart. Alf spawned three international hit singles, “Love Resurrection” (UK No. 10), “Invisible” (UK No. 21) and “All Cried Out” (UK No. 8). In the US, “Invisible” was a Top 40 hit. In some European territories, a fourth single, “For You Only”, was also released.
In 1985, Moyet performed at Live Aid alongside Paul Young and later returned unscheduled to the stage (alongside Bob Geldof, David Bowie and Pete Townshend) to provide vocals on “Let It Be” when Paul McCartney’s vocal microphone at his piano failed, leaving him unable to be heard for the first stanza of the song. (Twenty years later, he overdubbed his vocal for the Live Aid DVD release.) Moyet also released a single not featured on Alf, a cover of the standard “That Ole Devil Called Love”, which climbed to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart (it remains Moyet’s highest-charting UK single).
Moyet had another big UK hit the following year with “Is This Love?” (co-written by the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, under the pseudonym Jean Guiot), followed in 1987 by her second LP, Raindancing. Raindancing spawned further hit singles, including a cover of Floy Joy’s “Weak in the Presence of Beauty” and “Ordinary Girl”. In 1987, she scored another cover hit with “Love Letters”, which peaked at UK No. 4. The video for the song featured comedy duo French & Saunders.
In August 2002, Moyet was released from her Sony contract. Moyet signed to Sanctuary Records and released her first studio album in eight years. Hometime was produced by The Insects, who had also produced works by Massive Attack and Madonna. The release of the CD launched Moyet into the top five best-selling female UK artists of 2002, and resulted in a BRIT Awards nomination for Best Female Vocalist, as well as a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. Hometime was certified gold in the UK for sales in excess of 100,000 copies, with little promotion.
Voice, a collection of cover versions, was released on 6 September 2004 and entered the UK charts at No. 7. Scored and produced by Moyet’s neighbour (and Academy Award winner) Anne Dudley, the album was later re-issued with a bonus track, “Alfie”. A companion DVD, One Blue Voice, was released in 2006. Voice was certified Gold in the UK within four weeks of its release.
In December 2006, Moyet signed a recording contract with W14 Music, a Universal Music Group imprint. The deal saw Moyet reunited with label head John Williams, who was A&R man for her previous two albums, Hometime and Voice.
Moyet’s album, The Turn, was released on 15 October 2007, preceded by the single “One More Time” a week earlier. The album featured self-penned songs, including the three numbers she wrote for the stage play, Smaller in which she starred with Dawn French. For these songs, again Moyet worked alongside producer/songwriter and frequent Moyet collaborator Pete Glenister. The Turn debuted at No. 21 on the UK Albums Chart on 22 October 2007. Moyet left W14 shortly after the release of The Turn.