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Ginette Reno (#14)

We’re at the last post in the series “The Poll that Shocked”, and there couldn’t be a grander person with whom to end this series.

Ginette Reno could be said to be the superstar / Queen / Diva of Québec music – even Céline Dion says she’s humbled in Reno’s presence.   I’m racking my brains trying to think of who might be the closest comparison in Anglophone Canada – but I’m having a difficult time thinking of someone .

The best way I can explain her aura is through comparisons.  Picture this:  Imagine someone who began singing at the age of 18 in the 1960’s, with the career endurance of Cher, star-power of Whitney Houston (without the drugs or other problems), but with more of an Anne Murray down-to-earth type of personality.  Now picture this with a voice as strong and powerful as any Leona Lewis or Celine Dion – releasing almost one album every year, from the early 1960s until now – many many of which have earned her the highest awards in music over the entire length of a 45 year career…  and whose popularity, voice, and career is as strong now as ever.  Mix in various screen roles in movies, a humble character (the next-door-neighbour / mother / grandmother type you can picture inviting for supper), honours of state (Order of Canada, Knight of the Order of Québec), and the pride of a nation – and there you have someone who might start to resemble Ginette Reno.

Despite the poll results mentioned in my earlier post, Ginette Reno is actually well known to many Anglophone Canadians across Canada – but perhaps not as well known to newer Canadians.  Reno has won Juno awards and nominations over 30 years.

I suppose I could go down the long chronological list of her albums, awards, appearances – but words wouldn’t give her justice.  Reno has grabbed the hearts of a people, and is an iconic chapter in the history books.

If there was one recent performance that might in some way come close to summarizing the emotion and grandeur of her stature, it might be her 2008 performance on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City with Celine Dion and Jean-Pierre Ferland.  The Ginette/Céine performance became so famous that it was even parodied by Véronique Cloutier on the annual televised Le Bye Bye celebration in 2008 (Le Bye Bye was mentioned in an earlier post on Véronique Cloutier).   You should be able to find info about it online.

Her career has spanned both languages, and earned her some of Canada’s awards for her music, sung in both in English and French.   I would definitely categorize Ginette Reno as a “Barrier Breaker”.   Merci Ginette !!!

You won’t find a shortage of materials from online searches.   Her albums and songs are available for sale on various platforms and venues.  Please stick to officially approved footage, photos and videos, and please do not pirate – our artists form part of our cultural fabric.


Véronique Cloutier (#10)

Véronique Cloutier (often known just as “Véro”) is one of the first people who comes to mind whenever I think of Francophone TV.  She’s just a bit older than me (she was born in 1974), and so watching her all these years makes you feel that you’ve lived aspects of adulthood at the same time.   Like all of us, she’s lived through ups and downs – with the difference being that she has been in the public eye during several high profile and difficult challenges in her private life.  I really believe that has given her a human persona that resonates with the public, creating a feeling that she’s “just one of us”.  She’s one of my favorite fun-loving personalities on television – and she has the respect and adoration of the public.  Even if my first series of posts had not been a response to “The Poll that Shocked!”, Véro would still have been one of my very first posts.

Véro first became known to youth on MusiquePlus in the early 1990’s (a 24-hour music video TV channel similar to MuchMusic), when she hosted a video-clip show.  During the same era, she worked on various TV shows on different stations – and quickly became one of those faces people saw everywhere.

But it was her later show, La Fureur on Radio-Canada, which really drove her celebrity status with Francophones and French speaking youth from coast-to-coast.  It aired for around a decade.   La Fureur was a karaoke singing competition in which a group of guys were pitted against a group of ladies in a sing-off, to see who could spontaneously sing famous songs while getting the words right.  Celebrity stars were always invited to participate, and it was filmed in front of a live studeo audience cheering madly for their teams.   It basically was a a huge screaming, singing, and laughing party on TV each week with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people turning in for each episode.  Because of the audience sizes, the show’s success, and the guest celebrities the show attracted, it thrust Cloutier into a league of her own. 

Being a household name, she took on more and more roles in the public limelight.  She has been regularly featured in television commercials.  For the last several years, she has hosted Les Enfants de la télé on Radio-Can, a show in which celebrities of yesterday are the guests and participate in fun exchanges and activities (her husband produces the show).

Véro is also a successful radio-host on Rythme FM, one of the more popular radio stations in Montreal, with affiliate stations throughout Québec.  It could be said she is just as famous in radio spheres as TV spheres.

Cloutier became a recurring host for numerous televised award ceremonies, Gala de l’ADISQ, (similar to the Juno and Academy Awards), les Prix Gémaux (similar to the Gemini Awards), and has been the award recipient of numerous awards.   As a testament to her popularity and her work in general, she repeatedly wins some of the highest industry awards, including Les Prix Artis in which the public themselves choose the annual award recipients.  It’s particularly notable that she continued to win the public’s favorite person after having gone through very public difficulties on the personal and professional front — a true testament to how she difficulties with dignity, responsibility and integrity.

Her name has become synonymous with the annual New Years’ Eve Le Bye Bye TV broadcast on Radio-Canada.  It was a comedy broadcast which ran on New Years’ Eve in a skit format – drawing in much of the home New Years’ Eve viewership that evening. 

I haven’t mentioned Véro’s husband to this point, Louis Morissette (a celebrity himself), but she herself has stated numerous times that her work has been a team effort between the two, professionally as well as on the personal front.  Morissette is a successful comedian and producer. In many ways, without detracting from either of their individual successes, they have become a power-couple on the pop-culture stage, and have been together for much of their respective careers.  Le Bye Bye has been co-jointly hosted by Cloutier and Morissette.  Their popularity could be, in some ways, a type of “BrAngelina” status in Québec (did I get the spelling of that right?).

When conducting your own, TV, radio, web and video searches, please do so through officially approved sites and do not access pirated material.   Happy viewing!

The Poll That Shocked (#2)

“Who is Mari-Mai?” This is the name of an article published in October, 2013 in Le Journal de Montréal (one of the main Montréal daily newspapers).   Le Journal de Montréal conducted a survey of Anglophones living in Montreal, asking them to identify the following francophone celebrities and cultural icons:

  • Marie-Mai
  • Guy A. Lepage
  • Jean-René Dufort
  • Rémy Girard
  • Ron Fournier
  • Pierre Bruneau.

These six people are among the best known francophone icons and pop-culture personalities, but the survey found that most Anglophones living in Montréal couldn’t say who they were (in some cases, almost no anglophones knew who they were).  Because someone like Marie-Mai is as popular to francophone youth as Justin Bieber would be to Anglophones, the article came with shock-and-horror for many francophones (or at least it was made to be such by many influential people in the media).  Unsurprisingly, it became ammunition for people to score political points.

But much of the hoopla died down when a reverse survey was conducted several days later, again by Le Journal de Montréal, asking Quebec francophones to identify the following Anglophone Canadian celebrities and cultural icons:  Gordon Lightfoot, Alice Munroe, Robertson Davies, Peters Mansbridge, Farley Mowat, Peter Gzowski, Billy Bishop, and Blue Rodeo.   The results showed that francophones were just as likely not to know anglophone Canadian celebrities.   After the latter survey, the ruckus quickly died down (a good number of people had to eat some pretty big mouthfuls of humble pie), but the point was made that the Two Solitudes continue to exist.

Ironically, this is not the year 1945 (the year Hugh MacLellan published his book Two Solitudes) when the two linguistic groups lived physically apart.  Modern technology, mass movements of people, and a much more equal society makes it so that we’re interacting together, across Canada, on a daily basis.  Despite the fact that cultural solitudes continue to exist for large segments of the populations, there are still many who have become culturally dualistic (seamlessly weaving themselves in and out of the two linguistic cultures – all-the-while considering both linguistic cultures to be their part of their own daily culture).   Being culturally dualistic was a situation that rarely existed in 1945, and with the likes of the internet, online radio, Youtube, etc., tearing down the notion of Two Solitudes should be easier than ever.

The one area where the article seemed to find bridges between the two linguistic cultures was that both sides knew US pop-culture icons relatively well (go figure).  But hey, if anglos and francos can become enthralled with a 3rd country’s pop-culture, then it should be all the more encouraging to know that tearing down cultural walls within our own country shouldn’t be so difficult.  It’s simply a question of exposure.

A similar poll taken by L’actualité 18 months earlier, in April 2012, again showed that a majority of anglophones couldn’t identify a different list of several larger-than-life celebrities (L’actualité is a weekly news magazine in French Canada — the closest equivalent would likely be what Maclean’s is to English speaking Canada).  The celebrities mentioned were:

  • Julie Snyder
  • Véronique Cloutier
  • Normand Brathwaite
  • Janette Bertrand
  • Gregory Charles
  • Ginette Reno

(As a side note, the latter poll also found that a large majority,  83%, of anglophone respondents in Quebec wanted their chidren to be fully bilingual – beyond just an intermediate level).

With the above two polls in mind, the next 12 entries will cover the above celebrities and how they fit into the Franco-Pop scene.


(I’m not sure why, but I have a strange feeling this is going to come as quite a story, and an eye-opener for many people).