Paris: Singing Metro driver hangs up the mic

A Metro driver who's been brightening up Parisians' commutes for years by singing pop songs over the loudspeakers has announced the end of his rush-hour performances. We take a look back at some of his greatest hits.

Paris: Singing Metro driver hangs up the mic
Photo: Juan Enrique Gilardi/Flickr

Public transport journeys in France's capital are usually more of a necessity than a pleasure, and breaking the silence or making eye-contact with fellow passengers is something of a social taboo. 

But if you’ve taken the Metro line 6 in the past few years, you might have heard one conductor livening things up and singing hits by the likes of Justin Timberlake in between the usual announcements.

For those who haven't been lucky enough to experience the real thing, here's a video of the driver's passionate rendition of Diamonds by Rihanna, which is enough to put a smile on the face of even the stoniest-faced commuter.

Sadly, Paris’s singing conductor, or conducteur-chanteur as he is known, has announced he’s now giving up music.

“I have decided to put an end to my artistic performances,” announced the driver, named for the first time by 20Minutes as 38-year-old Ramzi, in a special edition of the paper.

But he couldn't resist tantalizing his fans by giving them some hope, adding: “At least for the moment.”

Passengers commuting between Charles de Gaulle-Etoile and Nation on the Metro each day have been treated to impromptu performances from the conductor for several years now, and Ramzi told the story of how the habit began one cold Christmas Eve.

“The first time I took to the microphone for my passengers was thirteen years ago,” he said,. “At the time, I was a bus driver on the 47 route. I remember, it was Christmas Eve. We were stuck on l’avenue d’Italie because of the traffic. And to help the passengers relax, I began to sing.

“Some years later, I became a metro driver on line 6. And once again, as chance would have it, since there was a problem on the line, I cheered up my passengers a bit by singing a few verses to them.”

Ramzi admitted he had always been a performer at heart, saying: “Since childhood, I began putting on shows for my friends – a passion which never left me.”

“I have always tried to create a link, a human dialogue with my passengers. Some colleagues do it with humour, others with poetry, for me, it’s singing. I feel so happy when I brighten up people’s day.”

And it seems that his efforts were successful; YouTube clips show bemused commuters clapping and even dancing along to his renditions of hits including Happy by Pharrell Williams and Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake. Parisians have set up a Facebook fan page to share their own videos and messages for their favourite Metro driver.

Ramzi said he was happy to help “spread a positive image of RATP (Paris' transport network)”, adding that he “always had the support of my managers and of the majority of my colleagues.”

However, he said that the reason for putting a stop to his musical interludes was that that media coverage surrounding him had created tensions between him and some colleagues. 

It seems Parisians will have to plug back in their headphones if they're looking for a musical ride home. At least for now. 

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