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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 🙂

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Web-users’ favorite Francophone Québécois – Part F (#314)

Ok, let’s wrap this puppy up.   

This will be the last in the list of web-users’ 25 favorite Francophone Québécois.

23.  Gilles Vigneault

  • Singer, Songwriter, Poet, Bad boy (Born Natashquan, Québec’s North Coast, live most of his life in Southern Québec).

I’m trying to think how on earth I can possibly sum up one of Québec’s most celebrated and legendary song-writers in just a few words.   I’ll give it a shot.  Here we go…

  • Gilles Vigneault is one of Québec’s most prolific singers.  He has been singing since before the Quiet Revolution, during which his songs became emblematic battle cries for Québec’s self-affirmation and nationalist ambitions.
  • Vigneault is VERY political and very vocal:  pro-nationalist, and pro-sovereignty.
  • In the above video, his most famous song has become Québec’s de facto anthem:  Gens du pays (People of the nation).
  • His stature in Québec society is next to a God-like figure for many people of older generations (to the point that there have been funding battles to preserve his childhood home as an untouchable piece of national heritage).
  • He is well known to younger people, but he does not incarnate the old “political flame” for younger people (he’s a famous singer of a past era for most young people).
  • If I were asked what 5 people would immediately would come to mind as being emblematic of Québec, I would say that most people would say that Gilles Vigneault is one of them.   He may not be the highest in the “favorite” list, but he certainly is waaaay up there in the notoriety list.

Here is one of his other most famous songs (which has become a de facto motto for Québec – one which you see and hear everywhere!):  “Mon pays”…   Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver (My country is not a country, it is winter).

Here is a video of a more recent interview of him on Tout le monde en parle (I believe this episode of Tout le monde en parle was watched by over 1 million people the night it aired on television).   Excellent interview — even if ideologically I do not agree with many things he believes.

24.  Guy Lafleur

  • Hockey Player (Born in Thurso, Québec, lived mostly in Montréal).
  • Lafleur is a living legend.  You may recall that he is listed as #1 in the list of Québec favorite hockey players.
  • His career went from 1971 to 1991.  He is one of the few who played for both the Montréal Canadiens and the Québec Nordiques (winning over both cities).
  • Not many people can claim to have 5 Stanley Cups under their belts like Lafleur.
  • And if you ever want to take a helicopter tour of Montréal, you might just be able to meet Guy Lafleur.  He currently owns a helicopter rental company there (now there’s an expensive way to try to get a hard-to-comeby autograph… but I’m sure some die-hard fan out there has tried that stunt).

25.  Jacques Villeneuve Sr.  

  • Race Driver (Born St-Jean-sur-Richelieu)
  • Wait a second… didn’t we already list Jacques Villeneuve and his father?  Yup!   But this time we’re talking about Jacques Villeneuve’s uncle (the younger brother of Gilles Villeneuve) – hence the Sr. at the end.
  • The first three-time winner of the world Champion Snowmobile Derby.
  • A former Formula race car driver (both RAM and Arrows – which were British Formula One racing teams)
  • A former CART driver (American Championship car racing)
  • Inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame
  • Goes to show how much Québec adores its motor sports!

And that’s the end of the 25 most favorite Québécois, as voted by web-users on Rankopedia! 

You now know a heck of a lot more about Québec!!!  (and my fingers are tired after such a long series).

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SERIES:  WEB-USERS’ VARIOUS QUÉBEC CULTURAL RANKINGS (11 POSTS)

You are going to know a lot more about Québec after this series of posts