Home » 2015 » July

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Advertisements

Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song / de facto Anthem – Part 4 of 4 (#322)

This is the last of four posts on Québec’s “Happy birthday” song and de facto Anthem.

Like the last post, this one will also include a Language learning exercise.   This will be pertinent to honing your listening skills for oral French if you are at an elementary or intermediate level.

Context:

Gilles Vigneault is interviewed on the radio by the well-known Radio-Canada radio show host, Catherine Pépin.

In this interview, you will hear and experience the abstract manner of speaking which Vigneault is known to incorporate into his common everyday discussions.

I won’t say any more, other than let’s dive in (I’ll let you discover the conversation as you listen and read along).

Catherine Pépin:

  • 0:11:  J’aimerais vous entendre au sujet de cette chanson parce que on va à bientôt fêter son quarantième anniversaire, le 24 juin prochain. 
  • I would like to hear you talk about the subject of this song because soon, next 24 June, we will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
  • 0:18:  Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé?  Comment est-elle née cette chanson donc, avant le Mont-Royal.  Je crois que c’est parti d’un défis. 
  • What happened.  How was it born exactly, before Mount Royal [on stage in Montréal].  I suspect it was part of a challenge.

Vigneault:

  • 0:28:  On s’était réuni Louise, Yvon, et moi-même.  Et puis, on discutait d’un spectacle que Yvon voulait intituler, et a intitulé « Happy Birthday » – ce qui a fait couler pas mal d’encre et de salive ensemble.    
  • Louise [Forestier], Yvon and I  got together.  We then discussed putting on a show which Yvon wanted to call “Happy Birthday” – which caused a lot of ink to be spilled, and tongues to be wagged. 
  • 0:47:  Et, moi j’étais d’accord.  J’ai trouvé ça intéressant comme titre.  Puis là, j’ai dit il faudrait faire une chanson.  On se mettrait à trois, et puis on ferait une chanson dont les gens se serviraient pour décoloniser un petit moment de la vie quotidienne de chacun.  
  • For me, I was for it.  I thought it was an interesting title.  Thus then and there I said that we’d need a song.  The three of us would put our heads together and we’d make a song which people could use to decolonize a little moment of their daily individual lives [decolonize in the sense of erasing another trace of English from their lives by getting rid of the Happy Birthday song which stems from English]. 
  • 1:03:  Ils ont dit, ben, oui.  Yvon a dit  « C’est une bonne idée.  C’est bon, parfait ça.  Commence.  Fais le premier couplet ou quelque chose, trouver un refrain, j’sais pas ».    
  • They said “Yes”.  Yvon said “That’s a good idea, great, perfect.  Go ahead and write the first verse of the song or something, find a chorus or something”.
  • 1:15: J’ai dit « Oui, je vais essayer.  Je vais y penser.  Et puis, la prochaine réunion j’arrive avec quelque chose.  À court, on fera chacun notre couplet, c’est d’accord? ». 
  • I said “Ok, I’ll try.  I’ll think about it, and the next time we meet, I’ll have something in hand.  When together, we’ll each make a verse for it, ok?”
  • 1:26: « Ouais, c’est d’accord.  On fera chacun son couplet ».
  • “Sure, OK.  We’ll each make a verse of it”. 
  • 1:29:  Alors je suis arrivé avec « Gens du pays » et le premier couplet – le refrain.  Ils ont dit le refrain « C’est ça, tu l’as ».  Puis le premier couplet, ben c’est ça, on parle d’amour.  On ne parle pas de guerre.  Tout le monde est inclus, puis la jeunesse est là-dedans. 
  • I came back with “Gens du pays”, the first verse – the chorus.  They said “That’s it, you have it!”   That’s the first verse, yup – we’re talking about love, not about war.  Everyone is included, as well as the youth.
  • 1:48: « Ben, on continue ».  Mais j’ai dit « Non, c’est votre tour.  Vous allez faire chacun votre couplet ». 
  • “Great, let’s continue.”  But I said “No, it’s your turn.  You’re each going to write a verse.”
  • 1:52:  Ils ont dit « Non, non, non, non.  Gilles, t’es bien parti là.  On dira ‘c’est pas bon’ ».   J’ai dit « ben j’espère que vous allez me dire si c’est pas bon.  Honnêtement, c’est correct.  Je continue »   
  • They said “No no no no.  Gilles, you’ve already got a great start.  We’ll tell you if it’s not good”.  I said “Well, I would hope you would tell if it’s not good.  Honestly, it’s fine, I’ll keep going”.
  • 2:07:  Et quand on l’a chanté, ben on a eu la preuve que oui, c’était une bonne idée.   
  • And when we sang it in the end, there we had the proof that yes, it was a good idea.

Pépin

  • 2:11:  Alors, comment ça s’est passé sur scène car c’est une chose de la voir sur papier, mais ensuite de l’offrir comme ça pour la toute première fois … ? 
  • So, how it it come to be sung on the stage, because it’s one thing to see it on paper, but it’s quite another to present it like that for the first time… ?

Vigneault

  • 2:20:  On ne savait pas où on allait, personne.  Mais Yvon a fait beaucoup pour ça.  Yvon, avec les bras, puis les grimaces, puis les rires.  Il a expliqué ça au monde.  
  • We didn’t know, nobody knew which direction it was going to take.  But Yvon carried it to the end.  Yvon, with his flailing arms, and those looks on his face, and then those laughs!
  • 2:34:  Il m’a dit « Moi, moi, je vais l’expliquer au monde.  Laissez-moi faire ».  Puis, Yvon l’a expliqué au monde, puis il a dit – regardez, on va dire ma tante yvonne – « Ma tante Yvonne, c’est à ton tour, de te laisser parler d’amour.  Vous allez me répéter ça ! ».  Puis il faisait répéter la foule!   
  • He said to me “Me, I’m going to explain it all to the world.  Let me do it.”  And then Yvon explained it to us all, using Auntie Yvonne as a reference – “My Aunt Yvonne, it is your turn, to let yourself talk about love.  Now everyone repeat it back to me!”   And he made the crowd repeat it back!
  • 2:50:  Et la foule l’a repris.  Alors, c’est une chanson qui a atteint son objectif qui allait là, décoloniser un tout petit moment de la vie quotidienne, qui était « Happy birthday to you », ou mal traduit « Bonne fête ma Do ».    
  • And yes, the crowd repeated it.  So you know, the song met its goal, to decolonize a little moment of daily life – that which was “Happy Birthday to You”, or in a bad translation “Happy Birthday Ma Do”. 
  • 3:13:  Et, c’est une chanson qui a remis ensemble beaucoup de gens dans les familles, et qui a contribué à la convivialité.  Et qui continue.  Et ça c’est bien.  Bon.  
  • Likewise, it was a song which brought many people together as families, and which made a contribution to living with one another… One which continues to this day.  That’s a good think it think, yes.

Pépin

  • 3:26:  Quelque chose très généreux dans la formulation « te laisser, c’est à ton tour de te laisser parler d’amour », c’est très efficace.   Je pense que vous parliez de convivialité.  Moi, j’entendais ça.  Alors, peut-être c’est un peu fou et rétique, mais presque comme une prière.   
  • There is something very generous in the formula of the song :  “to let yourself… It is your turn to let yourself talk about love.”.  That’s very meaningful.  I believe you were speaking about living with one another.  That’s what I also heard.  So perhaps it’s a bit loopy with whims of a rite, almost like a prayer.

Vigneault

  • 3:47:  C’est pas loin d’une prière.  Et le ruisseau d’aujourd’hui s’arrête et forme un étang où chacun peut voir comme en un miroir l’amour qu’il reflète.   On revient toujours à ça.  Pour ces cœurs à qui je souhaite.  Bon, là on voit des jeunes qui nous écoutent et qui vont peut-être s’en servir eux aussi.   
  • It’s not far from being a prayer.  And the stream of the present comes to a halt and forms a pond, where every person may see their love reflected, like in a mirror.  We always come back to that.  This is my wish for everyone’s hearts.  And here, there are young people listening to us who perhaps will view it as such also.
  • 4:09:  Il y a un petit glissement, un petit dérape vers le pays là-dessus.  Mais en même temps, c’est une suggestion.  C’est presque du subliminal.   
  • There is also a small nudge, a little whim pushing for our country also.  But a the same time, it is only a hint or suggestion.  It’s a message which is almost subliminal. 

Pépin

  • 4:20:  C’est sûr que c’était moins subliminal en ’75, forcément.   
  • I’m more than certain that it was more than subliminal in 1975, surely.

Vigneault

  • 4:23:  Ah oui.  C’était plus clair.  On était en ’75, et tout ça avait l’air de s’en venir.  Comme disait Gaston Miron, « Tant qu’elle n’est pas faite, elle est à faire, l’indépendance. »  
  • Oh yes.  It was surely more clear.   We were in 1975, and everyone for sure thought that it was going to happen.  As Gaston Miron said, “So long as it has not been accomplished, independence is yet to come.”

Pépin

  • 4:39:  Mais, au moins vous disiez que c’était avant tout une chanson d’amour avant d’être une chanson « engagée » justement.   
  • But, at least you said that first and foremost, it was a song of love before it was a song of “activism”, surely.

Vigneault

  • 4:47:  D’abord, d’abord, d’abord… Ça m’est apparu comme le temps que l’on prend pour dire « Je t’aime ».  Ça commence comme ça.   Puis aux jeunes, on dit « le temps de vivre leurs espoirs ». 
  • Firstly, firstly, firstly… For me it was for the time which we take to say “I love you”.  That’s how it began.  And to young people, we said “for the time for them to live their dreams”.
  • 5:00:  Bon.  J’aurais pu dire « le temps de vivre nos espoirs », parce que ça se peut que « nous » n’ayons pas le temps de vivre nos espoirs.   
  • Well, I could have said “for the time for them to live ‘our’ dreams”, because it is possible that “we” will not have the time to live ours.
  • 5:09:  Mais, si c’est mes enfants et petits-enfants, cela se fait lentement.  Ce sera très bien aussi.   
  • But, if it comes about for my children and grand-children, it would come slowly.  That too would be good.

Pépin

  • 5:18:  Alors, depuis 40 ans on vous chante j’imagine systématiquement à votre fête « Mon cher Gilles, c’est à ton tour ».  Qu’est-ce que ça vous fait? 
  • Thus, on your birthday for the past 40 years, when others have systematically sung to you “My dear Gilles, it is your turn…”, what does that do to you?

Vigneault

  • 5:29:  Mais, ça me fait sourire.  Ça me fait penser que j’ai eu raison.  Et moi, quand je me souhaitais bon anniversaire à Yvon ou à Louise ou à Claude Fleuri, je prends le téléphone et je dis « Happy birthday to you … », et puis on rigole.   
  • Well, it makes me smile.  It makes me think that I was right.  And for my part, whenever I wished Yvon or Louise or Claude Fleuri a happy birthday, I would phone them and sing “Happy Birthday to you… “, which would make everyone laugh.
  • 5:51:  Bon, il y avait un petit enfant qui avait demandé à sa mère « Qu’est-ce que c’est que les ‘to-you’ ? », parce qu’il avait compris « Ayez pas peur des ‘tooyou’ ».  « Qu’est-ce que c’est que les ‘tooyou’ maman? » 
  • You know, there was a small child who once asked his mother “What are the ‘to-you’?”, because he heard the English song as being “Don’t be afraid of the ‘tooyou’”.  “What’s a tooyou mommy?”.    
  • 6:06:  Puis, moi je n’ai pas peur des « to-you ».  Alors, il faut pas avoir peur des « to-you ».  Il faut les aimer, et de les inviter à la fête.   
  • You know, I’m not afraid of the “tooyou’s”.  So you should not be either.  You should love them, and invite them to your party.

Pépin

  • 6:15:  Merci beacoup, Gilles Vigneault.  Merci.   
  • Thank-you, Gilles Vigneault.  Thank-you.

Vigneault

  • 6:17:  Je vous en prie.  Merci de m’avoir donné l’occasion de réfléchir un petit peu.   
  • You’re welcome.  Thank-you for giving me the opportunity to look back and reflect a little.
Advertisements

Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song / de facto Anthem – Part 3 of 4 (#321)

I told you in the last post that I would incorporate a language-learning exercise into this little cultural-learning exercise.  With that, let’s jump right into it!

In the last post, I explained that “Gens du pays” was first introduced during the 1975 Fête nationale / St-Jean-Baptiste in Montréal 40 years ago.  What you are about to watch is the actual birth of “Gens du pays” as Gilles Vigneault’s gift to Québec.

The background posts for this post are:

Here is the actual footage (with Gilles Vigneault on the left, Louise Forestier in the middle, and Yvon Deschamps on the right):

What is being said is quite an “oral” (colloquial) way of speaking.  It is not how French would appear in books or in the news.

Yet it is quite simple, it reflective of how people speak, and thus would be a good exercise for elementary or intermediate level learners who are making the jump from paper to speaking.

Use the following transcript to follow along, and see if you can better acquaint yourself with how people speak in spontaneous situations.

Yvon Deschamps 

  • 0:04 :
    • Chanter bonne fête en français, ça veut dire qu’on est assez smart pour le traduire  l’anglais.   
    • When we sing “Happy Birthday” in French, all that means is that we’re smart enough to be able to translate it from English.
  • 0:11 :
    • Ça prouve en plus qu’on n’a rien nous autres.
    • That proves once again that we have nothing that comes from us ourselves.
  • 0:13 :
    • À part d’t-ça, bonne-fête, c’est niaiseuse. 
    • And what’s more, Happy Birthday is so annoying.
  • 0 :16 :
    • Bonne fête à toi, bonne fête à toi… 
    • Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…

Gilles Vigneault

  • 0:19 :
    • Moi, ce que je fais c’est des chansons, pis j’ai fait une chante anniversaire. 
    • Me, what I do is write songs, and I wrote a birthday song.
  • 0:22 :
    • Pourrait-on l’offrir ça comme cadeau? 
    • Can I offer it as a gift?

Yvon Deschamps

  • 0:23 :
    • Elle est bonne? 
    • Is it any good?

Gilles Vigneault

  • 0:24 : Oh oui!  Oh yes!

Louise Forestier

  • 0:26 :
    • Tu veux dire que t’as fait une chanson juste pour nous autres? 
    • You mean that you wrote a song that is just for us?

Gilles Vigneault

  • 0:30 :
    • Hein, et c’est en français! 
    • Yup, and it’s in French!

Yvon Deschamps

  • 0:35 :
    • Y est à temps.  Ça fait 200 ans qu’on l’attend. 
    • About time.  It’s been 200 years that we’ve been waiting for it.

Louise Forestier

  • 0:38 :
    • Chu pas sûr si j’ai bien compris là.  Veux-tu dire que la chanson que t’as composée, ça va remplacer « Happy Birthday » déguisée en français?    
    • I’m not sure that I follow.  You mean that the song you wrote will replace “Happy Birthday” converted into French?

Gilles Vigneault

  • 0:47 :
    • Exactement c’est ca!  C’est ça!   
    • That’s it exactly!  That’s it!

Yvon Deschamps

  • 0:51 :
    • Ça veut dire que là là, on n’aura pus besoin à chanter « Happy Birtday » jamais jamais!?   
    • That means that we’ll like never have to sing “Happy Birthday” again?

Gilles Vigneault

  • 0:56 :
    • Comme c’est fini « Happy Birthday » – Out!   
    • “Happy Birthday” is over and done wth – out!

SONG

  • Chers Québécois, C’est votre tour
  • De vous laisser parler d’amour
  • Chers Québécois, C’est votre tour
  • De vous laisser parler d’amour
  • Dear Québécois, it is your turn
  • To let yourselves talk about love
  • Dear Québécois, it is your turn
  • To let yourselves talk about love
  • Le temps qu’on a pris pour se dire «je t’aime»
  • C’est le seul qui reste au bout de nos jours
  • Les vœux que l’on fait, les fleurs que l’on sème
  • Chacun les récolte en soi-même
  • Aux beaux jardins du temps qui court
  • The time we took to tell each other “I love you”
  • It’s the only thing left at the end of our days
  • The vows we make, the flowers we sow
  • Each one of us harvests them in ourselves
  • In the beautiful gardens of flowing time
  • Gens du pays, c’est votre tour
  • De vous laisser parler d’amour
  • Gens du pays, c’est votre tour
  • De vous laisser parler d’amour
  • People of the country, it’s your turn
  • To let yourselves talk about love
  • People of the country, it’s your turn
  • To let yourselves talk about love

Vigneault 

  • 1:56 :
    • J’aimerais – à travers tout ce que j’ai fait et tout ce que j’essayerai faire encore – transmettre cette idée-là, de se posséder soi-même pour être capable de dire « Welcome » au monde qui vient chez nous.  
    • I would like, through everything that I did and everything that I will try to yet do, pass down the idea that to take charge of oneself means that you are able to say “Welcome” to the world which has just come to us.

The next post will be a similar exercise, but with a backgrounder in Gilles Vigneault’s own words.

Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song / de facto Anthem – Part 2 of 4 (#320)

This particular post will tie together several posts and details which I have covered over the past year.  If you follow this blog regularly, you will have already noticed every little detail forms part of a much larger puzzle.

Although this post is still in the same series as the last one, you will note I changed the title a little.  I added the words “de facto anthem” to the title.

The cute and little “Birthday song” I introduced you to in the last post is actually part of the main refrain for a longer, much more serious song, written by the very famous singer, Gilles Vigneault, entitled “Gens du pays.”

A few blog posts ago, I wrote a blog post which introduced you to Gilles Vigneault, and a couple of his better known songs (of which “Gens du pays” was one of them).    Gilles Vigneault was voted by internet users as being their #23 most favorite Francophone Québécois (click the former).

If we go waaaaaay back in this blog, I wrote a post entitled The Mythic Three.  In that post I explained that there are three music groups and musicians whose music and cultural significance are forever tied to the Québec nationalist political movements which spanned the 1970s, and the early 1980s (that being Robert Charlebois, Beau Dommage & Harmonium).

In that post, I inserted a graph I made to illustrate the emotional times their music is forever associated with.

TmlnGps

If we took things a bit further, and shifted the genre of music towards a more “traditional” genre, then we could also include the singer and song writer Gilles Vigneault in the above category.

However what differentiates Gilles Vigneault from the above three is that

  1. His music genre was never really considered contemporary, rock or pop (which is how the music of the above three has been classified)… Rather it was considered ballad-folk or revival-folk, and
  2. Unlike the music of the above three, Vigneault’s music did not lose much of it’s political “umph”… in the sense that his fan-base did not “de-politicize” him to the same extend as the other singers from the 1970s.   When people see or hear Gilles Vigneault, they know (and expect that) they are getting a dose of nationalist passion

Although Vigneault is still king of the hill for nationalist music associations in people’s minds, I will say that much of it seems to be taken with a larger and larger grain of salt as the years go by.

Today, he is probably respected by people of all political stripes for being as a musical legend and as an “elder statesman of Québec culture” — one who has never lost a grasp on his convictions (rather than as a rallying cry for the masses).

Nonetheless, to this day Vigneault continues to talk passionately and very publicly about his nationalist convictions and desire for Québec independance.  But he somehow has a knack for doing so in a very respectful, gentle and dignified way.   He is respected for that (even by those who do not agree with him).

If I were to superimpose Gilles Vigneault and his music on the above graph (which ties artists to nationalist events), Vigneault would probably take the cake — right up to the present day.

Gens du pays 1

You’ll note a few things:

  • Vigneault has been more present, during a longer period of Québec’s major nationalist political events than Charlebois, Harmonium, or Beau Dommage,
  • His music is politically relevant up until the present (we regularly see him perform at the most nationalist of events, including Parti Québécois, nationalist or pro-independance-related events),
  • I included the timeline for his famous song Gens du pays.

Gens du pays (People of the country)

During the height of Québec’s nationalist fervour in the mid-1970s, two major rallies took place in conjunction with the Fête nationale (or St-Jean-Baptiste celebrations).

For reference, I wrote a post a few weeks ago describing the Fête nationale, and its contemporary “depoliticization”.   You can read it by clicking:  24 June: La Fête nationale du Québec / La Fête St-Jean Baptiste (#293).

The first of the 1970’s major political Fête Nationale rallies was in 1975, in front of Mont Royal (the mountain behind Montréal’s downtown core).   Huge crowds turned up to listen to the above mentioned singers and groups such as Gilles Vigneault.  Unlike today, the celebrations at the time were synonymous with hard-core nationalist rallies — and battle cries for Québec independance.

Gilles Vigneault took to the stage with the famous comedian Yvon Deschamps, and the famous singer Louise Forestier.

Because the Fête nationale is considered Québec’s birthday party, they presented the crowd with a song by Vigneault which was to be the new “Happy Birthday” song for Québec:  “Gens du pays”.

Here is the complete rendition of the song (note:  It was NOT me who inserted the Canada flag into the video at the end.  So don’t go thinking I’m mucking around with the YouTube images to score political points.  I only chose this tract because the audio was better, and the lyrics were included — that’s all).

This had two effects:

1.  The crowds loved it and went wild for it.  It became an instant beacon for Québec nationalism, and by default, Québec’s de facto “national anthem” was born.

2.  Because it was Québec’s “birthday” song, ordinary people also quickly adopted the main refrain as a new made-in-Québec version of the normal “Happy Birthday” song (this latter effect did not – and does not – generally hold political significance in people’s minds).

I covered the “Happy Birthday Song” portion in the last post (entitled Québec’s own Happy Birthday Song).

With all the political fervour generated from the 1975 Fête nationale, the following year’s 1976 Fête nationale in Montréal attracted huge crowds (over 300,000), and served to forever cement “Gens du pays” in the public’s psyche.

The next two posts will feature some concert footage from the above Fête nationale, as well as a contemporary interview.    I’ll provide texts which you can also use as a language-learning exercise.

Hopefully it will be an interesting cultural experience for you, allowing you to see and experience a part of Québec’s culture which most Anglophone Canadians rarely see and hear.

Québec’s own “Happy Birthday” song – Part 1 of 4 (#319)

Did you know that Québec has its own birthday song which is very different than the English “Happy Birthday” song?

This is something which is generally unique to Québec, in the sense that Francophones outside Québec sing the old French version of the English “Happy Birthday” song.

There may be Francophone regions in Ontario and New Brunswick, close to Québec, which may also sing Québec’s version of the Birthday song, but from my experience, they seem to be exceptions to the rule (across the Prairies, Acadia, and other parts of Ontario, I’ve generally understood that it’s still the old song).

Québec’s birthday song is actually quite short and simple.

French

Mon cher _(insert name)  , C’est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d’amour
Mon cher _(insert name)  , C’est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d’amour

English translation

My dear _(insert name)  , it is your turn
To let yourselves talk about love
My dear _(insert name)  , it is your turn
To let yourselves talk about love

Who the heck is Laurent!?!?  Anyway, moving on….

Fast forward to 0:39 in the video below

In this next clip, you can NOT get any more Québécois than this! — Playing the Québec birthday song while a hockey match & a beer commercial is playing on the TV in the background!!

Contrast this with the French version of the English song (sung by Francophones outside Québec):

French translation

Bonne fête à toi,
Bonne fête à toi
Bonne fête
Bonne fête
Bonne fête à toi.

Original English version

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you

————————————————————–

Bonne fête or Bon anniversaire ??

In Canada & Québec, we can say both “Bon anniversaire” and “Bonne fête” to signify happy birthday.  In Europe, “Bon anniversaire” is usually the accepted form (with “Bonne fête” meaning “Happy holidays”)

The next three posts:

On the surface, this seems like a mundane post, but actually, there is quite a bit more to this story and tradition — a story which only dates back 40 years.   It’s a story known to many people in Québec, but perhaps is not known as well outside Québec.

Without getting too political, in the next few of posts I’ll cover the historic moment in 1975 behind the song.  I’ll also mix in a couple of mixed cultural & language learning exercises for those at an elementary and intermediate level (it might be an interesting way to improve your French listening skills, as well as to learn a bit more about some iconic parts of Québec’s culture).

Kevin Parent: One of Québec’s music institutions (#318)

Tonight was the last night of Toronto’s two-week long Franco-Fête (Toronto’s version of Montréal’s Francofolies).

Some interesting statistics regarding this year’s Franco-Fête in Toronto

The numbers have been released to the public today, and they’re quite something…

– More than 100 French-music concerts took place during this year’s Franco-fête in Toronto’s Dundas Square (Canada’s equivalent of Times Square in New York).

– More than 350 artists took part.

– Between 700,000 and 1,000,000 (yes, one million) people attended the French-language concerts in Toronto at one point or another during the two weeks.

– A phenomenal success in helping to break down the Two Solitudes.

Huge numbers !! Huge success !! and almost no hiccups !! (Hey Toronto & event organizers, you did well!  Amazing job!).


Kevin Parent has been one of the top singers in Québec and for Francophones across Canada for the past 20 years (yet has doesn’t look to have aged one bit).

For most people, when they think back to their high school, college or university days, there are always one or two singers who stick out the most vividly in their minds (those groups who incarnate memories which flood back when you hear their music).

For me, I view Kevin Parent in this category from back In the 90’s (along with others like Bon Jovi, Guns ‘n Roses, and so on).

Kevin Parent became huge — REALLY REALLY HUGE around 1995 (actually a little bit earlier).  But unlike one-hit wonders, Parent’s star appeal never faded.

He is as big in 2015 as he was in 1995.   I would dare say he continues to be so large that he has become a one-man cultural institution for Montréwood’s, Québec’s and Francophone Canada’s music industry.

Kevin 1

Over the years, he has won 7 of the top ADISQ (Félix) awards — the Québec equivalent of the Grammy’s and Juno’s.  Speaking of Juno’s, he has also won one of those as well.

He is one of a handful of life-long Québec music superstars — and tonight I was lucky enough to take in one of his concerts

  • with a front-row spot,
  • shake his hand after, and
  • chat with him for a few moments.

Below is a video collage I filmed with clips from some of his best known hits, as well as a small introduction (am finally getting the hang of this video thing — makes life way more easy).

cc

One of Québec’s and Canada’s key players for tearing down the Two Solitudes:  

I personally consider Kevin Parent to be one of Canada’s BEST BRIDGES between the Two Solitudes. 

He is not Francophone.  He is Anglophone.

Yet, he is one of Québec’s best known French-language singers.  (He rarely sings in English, and all of his hits are in French).

He grew up in a community with a large Anglophone population in the far-Eastern Gaspésie region of Québec (along the New Brunswick border).

Yet, in the hearts and minds of everyone in Québec, it doesn’t matter that he is Anglophone or Francophone.  He is accepted simply one of their own – period.

He is one of the strongest symbols we have for what can be achieved when people seek to break down the Two Solitudes.

I have always been fully aware of this fact.   Music aside, for this fact alone, he is someone who I have admired and respected for over 20 years.  He has done more to bridge the Two Solitudes and to make Anglo-Franco dynamics a “non-issue” than perhaps anyone else in the past 50 years or more.  I truly believe he is not given enough credit on this front (but then again, perhaps it is a good thing that he has never been politicized).

Regardless, I believe it has had an impact.   Cultural soft-power sometimes speaks louder and can be much more powerful than political power.

He is adored by fans in Québec from their early teens into their fifties — a fan base spanning two to three generations.

Some funny photos:

As much as I wanted to see his concert, I also wanted to meet him in person tonight to shake his hand, and to thank him.   I was able to, but the pictures did not turn out very well.

In fact… they were a complete photo fail !   But the FUNNY side of the fail more than makes up for the fact that I couldn’t capture the right moment on film!

Check this out:

Photo 1:   Just as I was about to start chatting with him, some lady started screaming uncontrollably that she loves him and that he is his hero.  It gets both his and my attention.  She was freaking out and I started to laugh (Kevin looked over to see what all the commotion was about).

Photo 2:  She practically shoved me out of the way and completely takes Kevin by surprise.

Photo 3:  I start pissing my pants laughing, and Kevin is like “What the !!!”   Afterwards, once she left, we both shook our heads and laughed about it!

Oh well…  The resulting photo and look on his face perhaps is better than anything which could have been captured had the photo actually gone as planned !!

Kevin 2

Some of Kevin Parent’s top songs:

  • Seigneur
  • Mother of Our Child (French)
  • Les doigts
  • Maudite Jalousi
  • Father On The Go (French)
  • La Critique (this on especially brings back camp-fire memories with friends back in Alberta).

The following parody has gone down in Parody history in Québec (everyone knows this one).  It was a brilliant and hilarious trap which saw Marc Labrèche catch Kevin Parent off guard when he, well, had Kevin meet Kevin.  (I wrote a post about Marc Lebrèche almost a year ago… you can read it by CLICKING HERE).   Hahaha 🙂