Jacques HoudekJacques Houdek (born Željko Houdek; 14 April 1981) is a Croatian recording artist who represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 with the song "My Friend". Houdek began his professional solo career in 2000 and has since published many recordings and albums out which 13 have been certified silver (5 times), gold, platinum and diamond (once). Houdek is one of the mentors in the Croatian version of the TV talent show "The Voice". During show's first season, he mentored winner Nina Kraljić. Aside from Croatian, he has sung and recorded in English, Italian, German, Spanish, French, Slovene, Macedonian, and Maori language.
Early life and educationJacques Houdek was born as Željko Houdek on April 14, 1981 in Velika Gorica. His last name is of Czech origin. After finishing elementary music school (piano department), Houdek enrolled in two high schools, music (solo singing department) and vocational hairdressing. He also attended singing lessons with professor Viktorija Badrov who wanted him to become opera singer. After finishing high schools in 2001 he enrolled in prestigious Berklee College of Music, honing his singing in seminars in France, Greece and Italy. Houdek continued to build up his knowledge on Berklee seminars in Europe, where he had the opportunity to be mentored by Donna McElroy, a Grammy Award nominee.
CareerHoudek held his first solo concert on February 19, 2000 in Zagreb club SAX! where he performed covers of various songs. His first single, the song "Čarolija" (Magic), was released in 2002 and performed by Houdek at the Dora pop festival, Croatia's national competition for entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. There he was noticed by maestro Zdravko Šljivac who offered him a collaboration and publicly praised him by saying that a singer such as Houdek is born once every 300 years. The next month, Houdek signed an exclusive contract with Croatia Records, the leading music publisher in the region, with whom he has produced 13 albums. In 2004, he provided the singing voice of Aladdin for the Croatian dub of the Aladdin franchise, with Dušan Bućan voicing the character for the dialogues.
During campaign for 2007 parliamentary election, Houdek sang party anthem "HDZ zna" (HDZ knows) for the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) which was at the time ran by Ivo Sanader. He later also sang for the mayoral campaign of the populist Milan Bandić. Houdek said in an interview for Jutarnji list that he is apolitical and that those were just professional engagements as any other.
In January 2011, Houdek placed 4th in the finals of the Open Mic UK singing contest held in London's O2 Arena. He also participated in the British TV show X Factor, where he was given the nickname "Croatian Sensation" and entered the top 100 candidates. He was unable to continue his participation in the contest because he did not receive a work permit in time.
In February 2017, Houdek was selected to represent Croatia at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, Ukraine. He qualified for the final, placing 8th in the second semi-final and eventually placing 13th in the grand final with the song "My Friend".
Over the years, he has performed in the Zagreb's Gavella and Comedy theaters, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his career, the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, and has sold out solo concert in Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall for five times.
ControversyIn 2005, Houdek said in an interview for the Tena magazine that "gay and lesbian population cannot be equal with other citizens because it means a return to Sodom and Gomorrah", and has called same-sex unions "sick" for which he was named "Homophobe of the Year" in 2006 in a selection organised by the main Croatian LGBT portal Gay.hr. In a report from 2005, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) listed him as "a public figure who gave homophobic statements". In 2011, Houdek was nominated for the title "Homophobe of the Decade" by the LGBT Zagreb Pride organisation which called him "without doubt the biggest homophobe in Croatian showbiz". In response, Houdek published a public statement on Facebook titled Love and Music are My Driving Forces in which he expressed his regret for being included in the selection, adding that he was gay-friendly and had nothing against love of any kind.
Private lifeHoudek is married to Brigita Krkač since 2006 with whom he has two children, daughter Sofija (b. 2006) and son David (b. 2013).
As lead artist
As featured artist
Awards and recognitionsFour-time winner of the Croatian music award Porin.
TV, concert and other professional achievementsthumb
Professional collaborations;Musicians Goran Kovačić, Robert Vrbančić, Alan Dović, Kristijan Zebić, Krunoslav Dražić, Antun Stašić, Ante Gelo, Krunoslav Levačić, Dalibor Marinković, Davor Černigoj, Nebojša Buhin, Zlatan Došlić, Igor Geržina et al.
;Producers Predrag Martinjak, Tihomir Ivanetić, Bojan Šalomon, Nikša Bratoš, David Vurdelja, Tihomir Preradović, Mahir Sarihodžić, Olja Dešić, Boris Đurđević, Dalibor Paurić, Hrvoje Runtić et al.
;Composers Ante Pecotić, Aleksandra Milutinović, Aleksandra Kovač, Andrea Čubrić, Bruno Kovačić, Ivana Plechinger, Ines Prajo, Arijana Kunštek, Zorana Šiljeg, Tonči Huljić, Ivica Krajač, Ivan Škunca et al.
;Conductors Zdravko Šljivac, Alan Bjelinski, Siniša Leopold, Stipica Kalogjera, Nikica Kalogjera, Joško Banov et al.
;Ensembles Girls' Choir 'Zvjezdice', Children's choir 'Klinci s Ribnjaka', Zagreb Soloists, Croatian Radiotelevision Jazz Orchestra, Ante Gelo Big Band, Nikša Bratoš Band, Krunoslav Dražić's Tambura Orchestra, Croatian Radiotelevision's Tambura Orchestra, Antun Stašić's Maestro Orchestra et al.
;Singers Tereza Kesovija, Gabi Novak, Josipa Lisac, Radojka Šverko, Vera Svoboda, Zdenka Kovačiček, Zdenka Vučković, Doris Dragović, Nina Badrić, Vanna, Ivana Kindl, Ivana Husar, Maja Blagdan, Kaliopi, Oliver Dragojević, Krunoslav Slabinac, Tony Cetinski, Massimo, Marko Tolja, Erato group et al.