Inside The Doc: Humanahum, the career of John Gabilou


Humanahum takes us on the journey of the artist John Gabilou: his career, emotional moments in the life of a well-known man, encounters, anecdotes from concerts and occasionally lessons…


The way Inside The Doc works enables the public to meet directors of documentaries, sometimes accompanied by their subject. That was the case with this meeting and the public was able to question the guests as much as they wanted. A 12-year old girl speaks first of all and asks Gabilou, ‘What was the best advice that your father gave you?’ Indeed, the audience is young and thanks to the documentary it has been able to discover John Gabilou. As director Philippe Sintès says: he wanted to leave a trace for the very young. He highlights the importance of popular documentaries and concludes ‘at every party there’s a song by John Gabilou.’


Questioned by Lucie Rabréaud, journalist at Tahiti Pacifique, John Gabilou tells us about his pride in being selected for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981 with the song chanson ‘Humanahum.’ ‘At the time I was only a little Tahitian’ he recalls, having left his island behind, singing at the top of his voice in old shoes in the metro. Eleven songs were selected out of 2,000 before selecting the five to battle it out. He also talked about the throat infection that he had three days before the contest.


This adventure back in time has been very moving, notably his reunion with Jean-Paul Karra, the composer of Humanahum, after over twenty years apart. Philippe Sintès reveals John Galibou’s sensitivity beneath ‘his bear-like exterior.’ These extraordinary meetings with different audiences also propelled John Gabilou to the height of his career: from singing with the Barefoot Boys to Olympia in Paris! Meeting with Cloclo, Michel Drucker and many others gave him an understanding of the importance of the promotion.


He returns to the Fenua quickly. He is of course proud to participate and sing for France at the Eurovision Song Contest but first and foremost he sings for Tahiti! For him singing is in his blood. It was obvious he would be a singer. He explains, in response to the question from the audience, that at the time television didn’t exist and he spent his evenings singing with his mother playing the guitar. His father said to him ‘If what you say is no better than silence, be quiet.’