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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.
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).
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 !!
Some of Kevin Parent’s top songs:
- 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 🙂
Lisa Leblanc … is only one of the hottest-trending French-language singers and musicians in North America! And I just met her at the Franco-Fête in Toronto !!! (Toronto’s equivalent of Montréal’s Francopholies festival — Woo hoo !! – and again, there was no shortage of attendees… Dundas Square was packed!)
Best of all — I managed to get a front row spot!! I apologize to everyone who I pushed to the ground, bit, kicked and punched as I wrestled my way to the front… I sincerely hope your injuries heal in a timely manner 🙂
Man, I so wanted to go to see her in concert last year when I was passing through Québec – but I missed one of her concerts by two days. But today’s concert more than makes up for not seeing her last year.
This post will be quite straight forward in the sense that there’s not much to say… other than she’s riding the crest of the wave of fame and popularity – the top of the charts.
She’s not Québécoise. She’s Acadian from New Brunswick; from the little village of Rosaireville, a whole 57 people!! (and her Acadian accent is as charming as she is). Yet she has conquered Québec to the point of pushing her way into top of the pile of Montréwood’s celebrities. She has won over the hearts of Francophones & Francophiles in Québec and elsewhere across Canada (you’ll see what I mean when you have a look at her concert locations lower down in this post).
But her style of music (modern Acadian with a huge dose of rock and folk-jive) has taken the radio, billboards, and pop-culture scene by storm.
I’m finally getting the hang of this video thing (super easy & fast)… so here’s a collage of short films I made this evening. Check out the crowd getting into it at 1:05 !
And here is a final video I made which ended with me meeting Lisa Leblanc!!! (Like anything in life, persistence and “insistence” pays off — and boy, can I be a persistent bugger!)
(And why on earth do I look so tiny in all my photos!?!?!? Really folks, I’m not that tiny — bloody camera!!)
If I had written this article even 10 minutes earlier, I would have told you that 100% of all Francophones under 40 in Québec and elsewhere in Canada know who she is (after all, you would be hard pressed to not hear her on French-language radio at least once a day). But within the last 10 minutes, I boasted to a buddy in Québec that I just met her, and he didn’t know who she was (WT.Heck É.D.!!). I suppose that means that only 100% minus 1 knows who she is (that buddy of mine sucks!). But that’s still a good score.
Her last album went platinum (the one I bought tonight at her concert).
Last November, the CBC radio program “C’est la vie” conducted an amazing English language interview with Lisa Leblanc. It was her formal introduction to English Canada. I highly recommend you listen to it if you wish to know more. The link is as follows:
In tonight’s crowd at Dundas Square in Toronto, I chatted with three people from France. They said that she’s even known in France where she has given concerts (I had no idea her reach in popularity stretched so far).
Her #1 song: “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde” (“My life is shit”)
Everyone across Canada, you are all on notice… Her next concerts will be given at the following dates and locations:
- DAWSON CITY, YUKON
- Dawson City Music Festival
- NOMININGUE, QUÉBEC
- MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC
- FestiBlues International de Montréal
- ROUYN-NORANDA, QUÉBEC
- Osisko en Lumière
- RÉGINA, SASKATCHEWAN
- Victoria Park
- VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
- Upstairs Cabaret
- VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
- The Biltmore
- EDMONTON, ALBERTA
- STUDIO 96 (OMG, This joint is still open??? I used to go to the place at the same address in the 1990s when I turned legal and was living in Edmonton – yikes!!).
- CALGARY, ALBERTA
- Festival Hall
- OTTAWA, ONTARIO
- CityFolk Festival
And one last note, I unexpectedly ran into Steph Paquette in the crowd (one of the best known celebrities for Ontario’s 600,000+ Franco-Ontariens!). But I’ll leave him for another post 🙂
(And again, I’m looking so damned short & small !! What gives !?!?!?!)
Usually I add addendums at the end of blog posts, but owing to the significance of this one, I’ll it at the front. By the end of this years Franco-fête in Toronto over the course of two weeks, 100 concerts took place with over 350 singers. Estimates were that between 700,000 and 1,000,000 (million) people attended the concerts in Dundas Square at one point or another. HUGE SUCCESS!
D’habitude j’ajoute des addendum à la fin des billets… Mais compte tenu du succès de la Franco-fête cette année, je le crois une bonne idée de mettre cet addendum en haut du billet. Durant les deux semaines de la Franco-fête, plus de 100 concerts ont eu lieu avec plus de 350 chanteurs participants dans la place Dundas à Toronto. Les organisateurs croient qu’entre 700,000 et 1,000,000 (million) personnes l’ont assisté les concerts à un moment ou à un autre. Un ÉNORME SUCCÈS!
I’m inserting a quick post about an event that is going on right now in Toronto (this will be of interest to followers in South-Central Ontario).
Along with la Fête Franco-Ontarienne in Ottawa, FRANCO-FÊTE is one of the larger French-language concert weeks in Ontario. This is my first year attending it, and there is no shortage of events!!
The main concerts are being held in downtown Toronto at Dundas Square, in addition to other venues all around the city.
Franco-Fête is going on right now. Some of the big names, from various provinces this year are
- Arianne Moffatt
- Radio Radio
- Zachary Richard
- Lisa Leblanc
- Kevin Parent
- Louis-Jean Cormier
A good number of well-known Franco-Ontariens are also being featured, such as
- Mélanie Brulée
- Les Chiclettes
- Stef Paquette
And there are many many others!
You can find the complete concert and event listings at
Last night some friends and I checked out the concert given by the popular Acadian group Radio Radio.