Matthieu Tota (born 26 September 1985), commonly known as M. Pokora or Matt Pokora, is a French singer and songwriter.
Matthieu Tota is the son of professional footballer André Tota and Brigitte Tota. His parents divorced in 1998 when he was 13 years old. As a child, he studied in an elementary school in Hohberg, and later at Collège Paul-Émile Victor in Mundolsheim, and Lycée Aristide Briand in Schiltigheim near Strasbourg. When he was younger, football was his first ambition and he wanted to become a professional player. However, he later opted for music.
Matthieu Tota explained the origin of his stage name Matt Pokora in an interview during the documentary Mise à jour broadcast on 26 August 2010 on NRJ 12 TV channel. He said he was searching for an artistic name and happened to be talking to his grandmother of Polish origin and the importance of humility came up. He asked her "how do we say 'humility' in Polish language," and she said "pokora". Tota immediately decided to adopt the word as his stage name, and shortened his first name to Matt.
He earned some public attention as a member of French R&B group Mic Unity.
In fall 2003, he participated in the third season of Popstars, a French talent reality television show broadcast on M6. The concept of the program was to present possible candidates the winners of which would take part in the formation of a boy band or girl band. He was a crowd and jury favourite, and became a member of a boy band called Linkup formed with Lionel and Otis, two other winners in 2003 Popstars. The female winners were formed into another group Diadems formed of Marylore, Angel, Pookie, Ophélie and Alexandra. In the final showdown, the boy band including Mattieu Tota won the series over the girl band Diadems, who ended up runners-up.
Their first Linkup single "Mon Étoile" was very successful topping French charts, and the debut album Notre Étoile was moderately successful. However the second single release "Une seconde d'éternité" was much less successful despite good sales.
The band tried again their hand in a collaboration with the British boy band Blue making a bilingual English/French version with Blue based on the latter's song "Bubblin'". The bilingual English/French Blue/Linkup version was entitled "You & Me Bubblin". Soon afterwards, Linkup disbanded due to poor performance of sales on releases.
In 2004, soon after the break-up of Linkup, Mattieu started working preparing for a solo career collaborating with the producers Kore & Skalp.
Under the stage name Matt Pokora, he released his first eponymous solo album originally entitled Matt Pokora. In 2005, he was forced to change his chosen name after a lawsuit from French R&B singer Matt Houston. As a result, he changed his stage name to M. Pokora and re-released the album as M. Pokora.
The debut single from M. Pokora was the very successful. Called "Showbiz (The Battle)" it was a Top 10 hit in France, and also charted in Belgium and Switzerland. The second single Elle me contrôle featuring Sweety reached #6 in France and Pokora received two NRJ Music Awards for the single. Yet a third successful single was released called "Pas sans toi". The album released on Universal was certified gold.
He also started collaborating with Hakim Ghorab who became his long-time choreographer and took part in many of his music videos. He also developed a close collaboration with music video director Karim Ouaret who directed most of his successful videos.
In January 2006, his second album Player was released topping the French chart. For producing the new album, he collaborated with Belgian producers Bionix, Rachid Mir and Christian Dessart mixing R & B with pop and crunk'n b, and artists Red Rat and Zoxea and geared toward the younger and feminine fan brackets. He also enjoyed great popularity with gay audiences. The first single from his second album was the very successful "De retour" featuring Tyron Carter. That was followed with single "Oh la la la (Sexy Miss)" with Red Rat.
During a concert organized by NRJ Radio in France, he met Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin and Martin asked M. Pokora to make a collaboration on Martin's hit "It's Alright". The result was a bilingual French/English Ricky Martin/M. Pokora release also entitled "It's Alright" that sold more than 100,000 copies. Finally, a last single from the Player album followed called "Mal de guerre", which was a relative success. M. Pokora released Player in a second edition in March 2006 with the bonus track added of the duet with Ricky Martin.
To promote the album and capitalize on its success, M. Pokora engaged in a tour of more than 30 French venues under the title Player Tour that culminated in a big sold-out concert at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy. At the end of the tour, a DVD containing materials from the shows was marketed under the name Player Tour Live. The DVD also included a photo book and memories from the tour.
Pokora also created his own label M2theP Entertainment, signing his protégé, the rapper Tyron Carter. In addition to being featured on "De retour", Tyron Carter released "Ne me dis pas" that featured M. Pokora, a Top 30 hit, followed by an album Mon hold-up.
After end of the Player Tour, Pokora left Universal and signed with EMI France. Also desiring a more international profile, he went to New York and created contacts most importantly with R & B producers Ryan Leslie and J. R. Rotem. The result was his third album MP3 that was released on 24 March 2008, and included 14 tracks, including 12 in English.
The title of the album was a play on his name Matt Pokora (MP) and the number 3 (his third album) but also referring to the popular gadget MP3, the audio format for consumer audio storage. Pokora promoted the launching of the album with a prerelease of single "Dangerous" featuring American hip hop artist Timbaland and Sebastian, Timbaland's brother and the timing of the release was picked to coincid with the NRJ Music Awards of 2008.
The album reached #7 with estimated physical sales of 200,000 copies and additional downloads of 151,000. The album was certified gold. The album also did well internationally charting in Finland, Germany, Mexico, Belgium and in his homeland Poland where he won the Polish Eska Music Awards as the "International Pop Artist of the Year".
After the success of "Dangerous", Pokora released a second single "They Talk Sh#t About Me" that features the young English rapper Natalia Kills credited on the release by her stage name Verse. The single unlike "Dangerous" (that had reached #1) was not played heavily on French radio because of English language content and managed to reach only #24. A third release from MP3, namely "Catch Me If You Can" was made with the music video featuring Julie Ricci. She is known for her appearances on Top Model in 2007 on M6 and in Secret Story in its 4th season on TF1. The single failed to make it to the French charts, but was successful in Poland reaching #11. The follow up "Through The Eyes" was also a relative success in Poland reaching #31 in the Polish charts.
To coincide with MP3 release, M. Pokora launched his Catch Me Tour 2008 ending with a concert in Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy on 18 November 2008. He also toured Belgium (6 December), Switzerland (13 December) ending with a final concert in Lyon, France on 14 December 2008.
Fourth studio album titled Mise à jour was released on 23 August 2010. The lead single "Juste une photo de toi" was released on 7 June 2010 and was a big hit reaching #4 in the French Albums Chart. It includes collaborations with Wayne Beckford, Gee Futuristic, X-Plosive, Astro Boyz, Tarz, STX and Bionix. Simultaneously a Mis à jour Édition Deluxe was released that in addition to the original 15 tracks of Mis à jour also contained seven new tracks exclusive for the Deluxe edition (including six in English).
The first single from the album was "Juste une photo de toi" released concurrently with the launching of the album. On 22 January 2011, during the NRJ Music Awards, the song was chosen as "Song of the Year" in addition to M. Pokora being chosen "French Male Artist of the Year".
To consolidate his international drive started with the MP3 album, he announced that an English version was under preparation. Finally the Englishversion titled Updated was launched on 14 March 2011, containing 11 songs, mostly adaptations of the French language hits on Mise à jour. Six of the titles were already known by the French public through the August 2010 Mise à jour Édition Deluxe release.
For promotion of the album, he organized a mini tour and a series of open-air concerts rather than concerts in halls.
In November 2010, a follow-up single "Mirage" was released accompanied with a new music video. The single received a great number of downloads, but not enough physical sales to have an impact on the charts and the single made only up to #64 despite the top position in downloads.
In January 2011, "Oblivion" an English language of "Mirage" was released with same arrangement but with new English lyrics for the international markets. The single was an opener for the reelased of Updated, destined for non-French markets of Mis à jour songs, but was made available for French markets as well.
In March 2011, M. Pokora announced a tour of 15 French cities, venues in Belgium and a final show in the Olympia. As a prelude, he also appeared in French, Belgian and Swiss clubs with dates from April to June 2011.
He also launched in March 2011 Mise à jour Version 2.0 that included extra materials including the Jean-Jacques Goldman, Carole Fredericks and Michael Jones classic "À nos actes manqués" which was destined to be his new single. It immediately became the number one physical single sales and reached the Top 10. The album Mise à jour Version 2.0 was made available on 18 April 2011, containing 17 titles including 14 form the original, the Jean-Jacques Goldman cover single three English language titles from Updated and a new French track "Si on échangeait les rôles", the French version of Updated's "Finally Found Ya".
A la poursuite du bonheur (2012)
The fifth studio album A la poursuite du bonheur by French singer M. Pokora, was released on March 20. The album's leading single "Juste un instant" was released on January 30, 2012 and reached number eighteen on the French singles chart. The album entered the French albums chart at number two. The second single from the album was "On est là" released in April 2012. In order to promote the album, M. Pokora embarked in a national tour in May 2012. The third single from the album was announced in the end of May; "Merci d'être" was officially released on July 2, 2012. on 4 September 2012, M. Pokora's official website posted the news that the album had sold over 200,000 copies in France, earning double platinum certification. The album is set to be re-issued on November 19, 2012, the new edition is set to include five new tracks, including the Jean-Jacques Goldman cover "Envole-moi" with singer Tal.
In 2011 Pokora voiced Duncan Rosenblatt, the main character of Firebreather, in the French dub of the Cartoon Network movie.
M. Pokora appeared in the lead role of Robin Hood in the French musical comedy Robin des Bois (full title Robin des Bois: Ne renoncez jamais) that premiered on 26 September 2013 in Palais des congrès de Paris with performances in that venue extending to 10 November 2013. The act then toured all over France. The musical, a Gilbert Coullier, Roberto Ciurleo and RDB-P presentation, with musical mise en scène by Michel Laprise and text and music by Patrice Guirao and Lionel Florence is tipped as the musical event of 2013 in France.
The soundtrack for the musical was released on Capitol Records / EMI on 22 March 2013 and entered the SNEP official French Albums Chart in its first week of release eventually reaching number 3 and also reaching number 4 in the Belgian (Wallonia) francophone Singles Chart. It was released in two versions, the standard edition and the digipack limited edition.
Two tracks from the album as performed by M. Pokora have been released as singles. The first was "Le jour qui se rêve", a solo performance by Pokora, and "À nous", a hit performed by M. Pokora (Robin des Bois), Nyco Lilliu as Frère Tuck (Friar Tuck) and Marc-Antoine as Petit Jean (Little John).
M. Pokora was troubled by the divorce of his parents and remained greatly attached to his mother after the divorce and lived with her in Strasbourg before renting a personal flat in Paris. His autobiographical song "Sur ma route" co-written by Jack Robinson, M. Pokora and Jordan Houyez from his album MP3 is about his experiences as a child in a broken home. He keeps contact with his father who actively supports him.
He is an avid football fan and dreamed of a professional football career very early on. He is a big supporter of the French football club Olympique de Marseille, and takes part in many football events.
M. Pokora has been friends for many years with his personal choreographer Hakim Ghorab and his wife Aline and is godfather to their daughter Lola. He is also a friend of footballer Djibril Cissé and is godfather to one of his sons. He added a tattoo reading X as a tribute to him, because Cissé makes the X sign with his hands every time he scores. Cissé carries a similar X tattoo himself.
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Matt Pokora in the news
|Songs by Matt Pokora|