French-Canadian R&B singer Corneille translated personal tragedy into pop music success with his 2003 debut LP, Parce Qu'on Vient de Loin, a powerful and often harrowing song cycle inspired by his family's murder at the hands of a Rwandan death squad. Born Corneille Nyungura in Freiburg, Germany, on March 24, 1977, he was born into a Rwandan family completing an overseas study program. He nevertheless spent the majority of his childhood in Africa, absorbing native musical traditions as well as the pioneering American soul of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Prince. As a teen, Corneille also discovered his parents' collection of classic chanson records by Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour, and others, and this melting pot of influences converged to form a child prodigy who first recorded his own original songs at age 16. An appearance on Rwanda's national Discovery Awards broadcast soon followed, but in April 1994 Corneille's budding music career ground to a horrifying halt when a Rwandan military team stormed his home, killing his Tutsi father, his Hutu mother, and his brothers and sisters while he looked on in terror from behind the family sofa. Still reeling from his ordeal, Corneille joined up with a group of fellow Rwandan refugees and fled to Zaire, where he located a German couple who once befriended his parents. The couple took him in and brought him to Europe, where he remained prior to moving to Canada in 1997. Upon settling in Montreal, Corneille began studying communications while moonlighting in O.N.E., an R&B trio he founded with friends from Haiti. After scoring a Quebecois hit with the single "Zoukin'," the group became fixtures of the Montreal live circuit, opening for headliners including Isabelle Boulay.