In the course of my blog posts which have related to individual singers, one thing you may have noticed is that most of the popular Francophone pop-star singers in Québec hail from small communities. The long list also includes many (if not most) of the biggest names who go on to international stardom.
If you were to also look closer at Canada’s most popular Anglophone pop-star singers, they too also come from smaller communities – and these also includes Canada’s best known international stars.
You don’t believe me? Then here’s the test. Take a look at all of the Québec singers featured on this blog. Other than the fact that I selected to write a post on them only owing to the fact that they are popular singers, my decision regarding who to write a post about was completely random. Thus, randomly select five of them, and see where they’re from. Most, if not all, are from communities with smaller populations. If you’re still not convinced, make yourself a list of Canada’s top 10 or 20 best known Anglophone singing sensations over the past few years (spread it out a bit over different musical genres, i.e. don’t restrict it to rap or electronic music). See where they’re originally from… and I think you’ll find a very similar pattern (it’s a cultural particularity which Anglophone and Francophone Canada both share in common).
I have a couple of pet theories as to why this may be.
For starters, start-up bands and singers in smaller communities and rural areas probably have less competition for “bar-stage” timeslots and have less entry-level obstacles at rural or small-town music festivals. Their overhead is lower, and they have the opportunity to sing and play their music much more often, in many more venues, all at a lower cost – factors which increase their chances of being seen, heard, and scouted.
But what is perhaps just as important, if not more important, is that their music genre stays true to what a local, stable population desires. Populations in smaller communities are much more stable, less transient, and the mix of musical genre is not as wide (it has not been diluted by competing genres, or overcrowded by as many outside influences as what exists in larger cities). What I mean by this is that start-up musicians in larger cities could have more difficulty finding a genre which appeals to everyone simply because there are so many different musical styles in large cities – all competing for a finite population size. Yet musicians from smaller communities focus in on music which appeals to local tastes right from the beginning (they’re not looking to find some new-age, retro-contemporary earth-tone high-octave-oboe-e-double-flat musical niche). It’s just a theory – I could be wrong, but considering such a large portion of Québec’s and Canada’s musicians do hail from rural areas, I could also be right 😉 . What are your thoughts?
It makes one wonder if the few dollars that are out there for Arts & Culture funding should flow a bit more towards rural regions, both across Québec and across Canada – doesn’t it?
(As an aside: I’ve always been of the opinion that our smaller communities have an important role to play as national cultural vanguards, just as large cities also play an important role in this respect. Whereas most focus is on large cities, smaller communities should also be supported in this sense, both on the cultural front, but also with strong economic policies which favour industrial growth and expansion in rural regions. Anyway, enough about that and back to the main subject of this post.)
One such musician with rural roots who has had a few number one and top ten hits in the last couple of years is Fanny Bloom.
She grew up in a village of 700 people in the Estrie (Eastern Townships) region of Québec, and did her high school in the rural region city of Sherbrooke, Québec. While in college (in 2008), she was part of a band and played gigs. A bit later she went on her own, participated in music festivals, was discovered, and the rest is history.
With some #1 hits behind her in 2013 and 2014, her name is now known to anyone who listens to contemporary international-style pop in Québec. Just this month, her music is still chart topping in the top 10.
Two songs which have made it to #1 on several radio stations are:
- Danse , and
- Piscine (the music video for Piscine is very simple, but very popular, with repeated showings on MusicPlus, the Montréwood equivalent of Toronto’s Much Music, similar to the U.S.A.’s MTV)
Some other songs which you might want to check out are
- Shit (yup… That’s really the name of the song)
- Tes bijoux
- Je t’achèverai
- Parfait Parfait
If you’d like to catch an online video of an interview with Fanny Bloom, NRJ FM Montréal’s official YouTube channel has one such interview. You can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2-Y2DAJRUg