Modeled after the Priests, a classical music trio of Catholic priests from Northern Ireland who were a blockbuster success throughout Western Europe in 2008, French trio Les Prêtres have released several chart-topping albums.
Hailing from Gap, the capital of the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France, the trio was founded by two priests, Le Père Jean Michel Bardet and Le Père Charles Troesch, and seminarian Dinh Nguyen Nguyen. In association with the TF1 label, Les Prêtres made their full-length album debut in 2010 with Spiritus Dei. With proceeds of record sales going toward charitable projects, the album topped the French charts for several weeks straight. Produced by Florent Bidoyen, Spiritus Dei included traditional material like "Ave Marie" and "Amazing Grace" as well as secular classics like Jacques Brel's "Quand On N'a Que l'Amour" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." While the album was a commercial blockbuster, critics were often unkind to Spiritus Dei, pointing out how clearly it was modeled after the 2008 eponymous album debut of the Priests, which had been a Top Ten smash hit across much of Western Europe with the exception of France. Nevertheless, the follow-up Gloria, released in 2011, nearly equaled its predecessor with a five-week run at the top of the French charts. Their third album, Amen, appeared in mid-2014 and spent two weeks at number one. ~ Jason Birchmeier