Éric Devillers, the former homeless man who sings with Vianney

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In his new album, “À 2 à 3”, released on November 10, Vianney sings with celebrities from the French and international music scene, but also with amateurs, including Éric Devillers, a former homeless person.

This is not the first time that Vianney has shown his interest in the most deprived. In his previous album, he sang Merci pour ça for Karim, a homeless friend, whom he had met during a Winter Solidarity evening. This time, in his new album À 2 à 3 , composed of duets and trios, Vianney sings a track with a former homeless person, Éric Devillers.

While he was a police commissioner in Belgium, Éric Devillers left everything to come to France, after a serious burnout. For more than ten years he lived on the streets. He spent his days begging in the Rome metro, in Paris, and seeing people parade in front of him. It was a trying time, where he would go several days without having a real discussion with anyone.

Eric Devillers
Eric Devillers .

© Quentin Huriez

In 2019, Éric Devillers was hosted at the Trinité parish (Paris 9th), as part of Hiver Solidaire for a few months. It was there that he met the singer: “One evening, at midnight, I knocked on the window. A young man comes to open the door, and there in the kitchen I see Vianney,” Eric Devillers confides to Aleteia. “At that time, I think he came once a month as a volunteer to Trinity. He spent the evenings and nights helping out people on the street, meeting them, talking with them. That evening, we started talking and talking… until 4 a.m.! We talked about him, we talked about me and we slowly became friends.”

Éric Devillers also talks to him about his passion for writing. He writes short stories and poems in which he talks about his daily life. At first, Vianney offers to make a song with one of his texts, just for him, out of kindness, but when the singer reads his poems, he understands that Eric has a lot of talent. “I offered him some texts that I had written and there was one that he loved,” says Éric.

The song “Debout” by Vianney and Éric Devillers

Vianney returned with his guitar. A month later, he composed a melody and told Eric that one day he would release it. “He came back several times to Hiver Solidaire . We kept in touch regularly, we saw each other or called each other. He is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is faithful in friendship. When he gives his friendship, it’s a precious gift,” he confides. “Then, last year he said to me: ‘Come to my house next week and we’ll record the song, it’s almost finished.’ He sings, I speak: our song is now in his new album. He absolutely wanted to include me in it.” The song is called Debout and has just been released among the titles of Vianney’s new album À 2 à 3 , number 1 in sales in France upon its release.

“Initially, I wrote this poem to show that people who live on the street or in precarious situations can get by, provided they have a little helping hand right and left,” explains Éric . “Meeting someone, an outstretched hand, it feels good. We don’t ask people to be superheroes. They cannot get us out overnight, but they can help us, take us to the right structures.”

“There are very difficult times in the street, when you no longer want to do anything,” he confides. “This song shows that deep down, we all want to move, to get out of it. We still need to have a hand reaching out to us.” Éric Devillers received this outstretched hand because people turned to him to help him and today, he no longer lives on the street.

In 2019, with the Entourage association which fights against precariousness and social exclusion, he participated in awareness days in companies and schools. One day, the communications director of a bank, touched by his story, asked him to join his team. “It was December 6,” remembers Éric, “that’s good news: for a Belgian, it’s Saint Nicholas Day, the day of gifts for children.” Since then, Éric has worked in this bank on a permanent basis and has found accommodation.

However Éric Devillers does not forget other homeless people and continues to get involved with Entourage. Today, he is president of the street committee within the association to think about the best ways to help people in precarious situations and in turn be an outstretched hand for the most deprived.

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