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An embarrassing example of the “Two Solitudes” (#197)
Yesterday I wrote this post in a different format. But after sleeping on it for a few hours, I realized the way I originally wrote it was not fair to Toronto, or its people as a whole. The comments the post received were in agreement with what I initially wrote, but that doesn’t mean that how I wrote it was the right. If anything, the way I initially wrote the post shows how emotional an issue this subject can be (if I became emotional about it sitting here in Toronto, that can give you an idea of how it might be going over with many people in Québec).
I’m backtracking and I’m re-writing a good chunk of the post. Here is the re-written format…
This post is going touch upon a sensitive subject which occurs often enough… so I’m going to raise the issue again. It’s something more people should be aware of (especially in media circles).
Yesterday were the Canadian Screen Awards organized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. (Website: http://www.academy.ca/About-the-Academy).
In a nutshell, these awards could be considered the Canadian equivalent of the U.S.A.’s Oscars.
It’s a huge event. It is wider in scope than the Oscars/Academy awards because it grants awards to both Canada’s movie and television industries in one fell swoop. It is not a Francophone award ceremony, nor is it an Anglophone award ceremony. The Canadian Screen Awards simply awards the best of the best in Canada, regardless of whether or not the recipients are Francophone or Anglophone.
The awards are held here in Toronto every year, and thus they are presented in English, in an English dominant environment (that of Toronto). They are supposed to be an all-inclusive ceremony.
But what happened yesterday really drives home the notion of the Two Solitudes. Frankly, it’s embarrassing – and it has garnered a lot of attention today in Québec.
Here is what happened.
Mommy is one of the most successful Canadian movies of the past 20 years, and one of the most successful movies in Canadian history – full stop. After winning countless awards abroad over the past 10 months, Mommy finally had the opportunity yesterday to receive Canadian awards on home turf (apart from the Jutras which were held not long ago). In Québec, over the last several days, there was much excitement, suspense and publicity in the run-up to yesterday’s awards in Toronto.
The movie, Mommy, is the creation of Xavier Dolan. It is considered a Québec film (abroad it is often held up as a Canadian film), it was created in French, and was released in May, 2014. Between May and now, Mommy basically won the prize for the “best film in the world” (for lack of a better term) at the Cannes Film Festival (the world’s most prestigious and well-known international film festival). It also won many of the world’s other most prestigious film awards.
But here’s the crunch: Yesterday Xavier Dolan and the film’s actors – who have been cheered and treated like super stars around the globe – showed up at the festival in Toronto, and guess what happened: Unless they were wearing name tags, many people at the event didn’t know who they were, including those who were there to cover the event as media.
Because the event was broadcast live in Québec, the awkward treatment the film’s creator and cast received at the gala did not go over very well with influential individuals in Québec or members of the public. A good number of people were hurt, angry, disappointed, and left confused.
Just to give you the context of how embarrassing this is, earlier this year, at the Cannes Festival (attended by all of Hollywood and the who’s who of international film), Dolan and those who worked on Mommy were given an 8-minute standing ovation – yes… applause and cheers for a whole 8 minutes – by the biggest names in world of film. Even the elite of the American media industry attended, stood and applauded for 8 minutes straight (Oprah, Spielberg, Brad Pitt, you name it, the list goes on). This sort of accolade has never been given to a Canadian (or almost any other) film.
What happened last night when they won here in Toronto? Polite, timid (and awkward) applause from the seated audience who generally did not know who they were.
I’m still trying to make sense of it all.
Last fall, I watched Mommy in the theatres here in Toronto, and it was packed (it was playing in regular theatres). Thus, what happened last night also took me off guard, as much as it did people in Québec.
I don’t want to bash the gala event, and I don’t want to bash Toronto either (after all, I love Toronto, its people, the vibe, its immigrants, immigrant communities and cosmopolitan nature. I love its freshness). But I am so embarrassed today by what happened at the awards ceremony.
I’m also quite embarrassed for the guests of the gala, because something like this could have been avoided. What happened yesterday occurred at one event (it was not a city-wide occurrence – and I’m not sure the expectation should have been that it was a city-wide event). Therefore, it could have been better contained with preventative management, and a bit of event-specific “education”.
It’s a sort of ignorance that is seen often enough at events like this, or though Toronto’s “national” media when covering matters which cross the linguistic lines Yes, I see it in Toronto, but I have also seen it elsewhere in the country, AND I see also see it in reverse, in Francophone media, Francophone events and Francophone society. It’s a two-way street.
However, the burden falls much heavier on Toronto’s media shoulder, more so than any other media in the country – precisely because Toronto’s media is Canada’s national English-language media epicentre. That’s a heavy burden for any city to have to carry. But because Toronto’s media has this burden, they need to step up to the plate more so than elsewhere. That does not only pertain to presenters on the screen, but also to local behind-the-screen support staff such as camera operators, researchers, and those who decide what to cover and how to cover it. These people tend to be important in deciding who and what makes it on the screen, and how those subjects are portrayed to the public (ie: if a camera operator walks by the biggest star of an event because they don’t know who that person is, then that simple action has huge implications, as we saw last night). It should be recognized that the support and technical staff are more apt to be hired from the general public in Toronto, and may not have had much interaction with Canada’s Francophone culture (or other aspects of Canadian culture outside Toronto). Therefore there needs to be more education within those circles, or we’ll see more things occur like what happened at the gala awards.
The implications of this type of ignorance can be significant when such ignorance is broadcast into people’s homes, and when common people feel they have been slighted (the awards yesterday in Toronto were being followed live in Québec by a good deal of influential people – and thus the ignorance shown at the gala event spread like wildfire – the point that it made headline news in Québec).
I suppose it not only shows a that a much better effort could have been made on the part of the awards’ organizers to ensure that the event’s audience, staff and media were better informed regarding who was being invited (simple things like “promoting” the contents of the evening’s program and nominees), but it also serves to highlight that segments of society (and hence the media) need to be better informed about culturally significant matters across our French/English linguistic lines.
But every cloud has its silver lining – and here is this story’s silver lining: Canada’s Anglophone media is very heavily concentrated in Toronto (that’s why we often hear the expression “Toronto-centric media”) Because there is a very wide range of people working in Toronto’s media industry with very diverse personal backgrounds, it cannot be expected that everyone will be aware of culturally significant matters in Québec, matters across the linguistic divide, or elsewhere in Ontario or Canada (not everyone in Toronto’s media industry speaks French, or went through immersion, or has travelled, or has lived in Canada long enough to understand all of Canada’s cultural nuances – and that’s ok and normal — because people are people). But this poses an amazing opportunity on a “national” level. Because Canada’s “national” Anglophone media is so concentrated in one city – Toronto — it should not be very difficult to educate those who work in Canada’s national media – at least much more efficiently and effectively, than say, if our “national” media were spread across several cities (like it is in the US, with NY being one hub, LA another, and Atlanta another with CNN).
Therefore, if by chance, there are people working in the media who are not sensitive to what is going on beyond a 100km radius (even within Ontario), it is a situation which can, in theory, be addressed and corrected.
Here are a few of the dangers if things do not change: (especially on the media front or regarding highly mediatized events): Anglophone Canada’s media is watched and criticised in Québec (I would venture to say that Anglophone media is more visible in Québec than what Francophone’s media is outside Québec). If the sort of ignorance we saw at the awards ceremony is not addressed, and that sort of ignorance is consistently conveyed by Anglophone Canada’s media, then there is a risk that all of Anglophone Canada will be labelled as being just as ignorant — and that’s precisely what happened yesterday evening at the awards ceremony, and it is continuing to play itself out today. There are political implications to it. People in the sovereignist camp in Québec has been tossing this one around like a hot-potato all day – they’re really running to town with it — and it is in their interest to see that the issue remains front-and-centre. These types of things make an emotional impact, and emotions translate into how people vote. It’s an issue.
This morning, the Radio-Canada (CBC French) headline in Québec was “Xavier Dolan feels the Two Solitudes at the Canadian Screen Awards”. (The headlines should have been about the awards Mommy won at the gala).
Last night in Montréal, Xavier Dolan was interviewed on television on 24/60 byAnne-Marie Dussealt. The interview devoted a significant segment to his reaction of what just happened in Toronto. Dussealt is the Québec equivalent of Larry King (and 24/60 would be the equivalent of Larry King Live). However, she’s probably a bit more like Piers Morgan because her own social & political views come across much more than what Larry King’s did.
She asked him what it was like to receive an award in Toronto. Click HERE for the link to Radio-Canada’s article and the interview video on their official website.
Below, at the end of this post, I’m providing you with a translation of Dolan’s response to Dussault’s questions (it begins at 2:40 minutes, and ends at 7:50 minutes).
I have to admit, when Radio-Canada first published the article, they did not post the video, and they only quoted sound-bites. The initial article was less-than-flattering (it left far too much to innuendo – and it went viral). Comments flooded in over the course of the day, and now people are talking about this on the streets in Québec. It’s not good.
Fortunately, Radio-Canada posted the video clip later in the day, and what Dolan actually said was much more nuanced than what the article first lead people to believe. But unfortunately, damage has been done, and we’re now all painted as being completely ignorant in English Canada, and out of touch with reality or anything in Québec for that matter.
Likewise, I’m not sure that many people in Québec have the nuanced context to be able to distinguish sectors of Toronto’s media industry from the rest of ordinary people in English Canada (Toronto’s media industry is far too often is held up as being “representative” of Canada).
In this case, I truly believe it boils down to a question of Two Solitudes between “Québec & Toronto’s media industry” rather than “Québec and English Canada”.
Big sigh – truly. Hopefully our mayor (of Toronto), John Tory, will jump in to say that what happened last night is not representative of most people in our city or of our country. At least I hope he will.
TRANSLATION OF RELEVANT QUOTES FROM THE 24/60 INTERVIEW.
Question — Anne-Marie Dusseault: What does it represent to you for your film to have had this sort of presence in Toronto? What does this sort of recognition represent? The Jutra awards are around the corner, I’m not sure if there is a hierarchy it. There were the Caesars. But what does your presence in Toronto represent? Especially since I would say that it’s in a very particular universe for you.
Answer — Dolan: It’s a universe which is quite specific. It’s one of English Canadian stardom. Thus it has more to do with stars from English Canadian television. I would venture to say that it’s owing more to this than the Gala groups together for both television and movies.
It’s rather strange because we arrived there on the red carpet. And we were standing there on the red carpet. And you know, despite all the euphoria going on around us – after all it was a ceremony like any other and we were happy that our work was noticed, appreciated by peers, highlighted… even if we didn’t win and were just nominated, regardless if it’s here, in France, or elsewhere… the effect is the same – we are always honoured that our work is recognized.
But in Toronto, we arrived on the red carpet, and without our name tags, the cards which actually had our names and who we were… the photographers were completely… you know…
Dusseault: …lost !
Dolan: … completely lost. They had absolutely no idea who we were – which, without being pretentious, is rather peculiar. You know, if you think about it, the film garnered a fair amount of good international success. And… you know, one would like to think that Mommy is considered part of the… … I consider that Mommy is part of Canadian films, as much as it Québécois. In that sense, it represented Québec and Canada in all those foreign festivals, ceremonies, gala award events where it was nominated – that sort of thing.
But it’s still rather particular that we were presenting it in a universe where all the stars of English Canadian television …
Dusseault: … don’t know who you are. You’re a complete unknown to them.
Dolan: It’s to say that the industry… those in the artistic community who sawMommy, they came up to us and they were proud of Mommy. But apart from that, we could see we were in a world surrounded by a very specific English Canadian journalistic and photography corps which is… well, it’s now a cliché to say it, but it’s still an expression which aptly describes the situation – theTWO SOLITUDES.
I find it rather baffling and curious. If you think about it, it’s really quite strange, because the gala started with a sort of “ode” to Canadian cinematography, in all its splendour and richness. But we felt the estrangement… well, no, not estrangement, but rather… hmmm… perhaps “ignorance” towards Québec cinema in the overall picture of things.
Question — Dusseault: I was kind of wondering this. Right up to the last minute, we were not sure if you were going to be in Toronto, if you had the time to get there. Did this make you ask yourself “What am I even doing here? What’s the point of being here?”… Right?
Answer — Dolan: No, I didn’t ask myself “What am I doing here?” becauseMommy was a film financed by Telefilm Canada. Factually speaking, let’s be honest; it’s a film which was made in Canada and it’s a Canadian film. Let’s not deviate from that, regardless of people’s political allegiances. It was made within a certain artistic context – political also. And I’m happy that theCanadian Industry Awards have recognized our work. After all, it’s our peers who vote for who wins. So in that sense, I don’t ask myself what’s the point of being there. I’m happy we were there. I’m of course happy that Anne was there, and that all the actors were there.
But the atmosphere, all-in-all, reveals… I have to say, a gulf between the two cultures, which would otherwise stand to gain if they were to learn from each other.
You know, I read the newspapers this morning. English Canadian journalists, who were covering the ceremonies, made the point of saying that each year it is the same thing for them – that there will always be “one” Québécois film, without ever knowing what it will be, which will always triumph above the rest. Then it will simply sweep all the prizes, and it will always irritate them. But they still acknowledge it, and they write it.
So in that sense, the whole thing is just so interesting to watch itself play out, and to see the journalists talk about this.
Dusseault: It is rather interesting to watch itself play out. Yesterday I was following it on Twitter, and then I’d switch back-and-forth to CBC, and the awards were always making way for “English Canadian Television”.
Dolan: In that sense, I’m not going to criticize them, because I understand their logic. I get the impression that if they group together movies and television, it’s because in English Canada, what English Canadians know better than anything else in their own world are the stars of their television – those on CBC, CTV, on their national TV shows. In a sense, it’s by formatting it this way that the gala event would make English Canadians want to tune in to it. If they were to only celebrate English Canadian cinema (versus television), I’m not sure the gala event would attract many viewers. Movies and television were separated in the past, and from what I understand, it didn’t work very well in that format.
Congrats! You’re making progress! (“Théatre St-Denis” & “Le Capitole”) (#185)
There are a number of readers who have been following my blog for a few months. I’m happy to have been able to offer some insight, and I enjoy reading some of your emails.
It takes time to get a sense of another culture when there is a linguistic barrier or physical distance. However, for those of you who are regular readers, if you were to visit Québec, if you were to watch some Montréwood television, or even listen to some of the news, you would probably already notice that the pieces are now starting to fall into place, bit by tiny bit. Much of what you encounter should now be making much more sense.
I was recently in Montréal and I walked by Théatre St-Denis. It is one of the most famous stage theatres in Québec. It features acts of all types. Some of the biggest names in Québec’s pop-culture have seen their careers launched at Théatre St-Denis, and it continues to feature some of the biggest stars.
A quick glance at the sign made me realize just how much ground has been covered in just the few short months of blogging about Québec, its pop-culture, and many other topics related to Québec and Francophone culture in Canada.
For the regular readers of this blog, the signs (below) should give you an idea just how much you have already learned about Québec’s culture in the last few months. Give yourself a pat on the back for wanting taking the initiative to learn more, and for your desire to acquire a greater cultural context of what Québec and Canada are all about.
Simply from having regularly read the blog posts, a good number of you will certainly recognize some of these names. You now likely know who they are, what they’re about, and how they fit into Québec’s overall culture. Here are four which might jump out at you:
- Stéphane Rousseau
- Véronic DiCaire
- Lise Dion
- Rachid Badouri
The last time I was in Québec City, I also snapped a photo of the performance sign hanging in front of the Le Capitole (the most famous performance theatre in Québec city, and also one of the most famous stage theatres in Québec).
Again, some of the names you’ll likely recognize are
- Ginette Reno
- Véronic DiCaire
- Mario Pelchat
This could be proof that learning about Québec, its culture, and Canada’s Francophone culture in general is not an insurmountable task – even if you don’t speak French. I’m trying my best to cover topics which are relevant, and which pertain to what normal people see in the media, on the street, as well as what everyday common people talk about over meals, at work, and at home.
I would even venture to bet that should you travel to Québec, that you would already be in a position to begin to feel like you are in familiar territory (from a cultural standpoint) – regardless of your French language level. Regardless where you live in Canada, hopefully you’re even beginning to feel that aspects of Canada’s Francophone culture are part of your own culture, at a very personal level. That is a very commendable feat, and I’m quite humbled to know there is a good number of people who are regularly following my posts.
So to those who are faithfully reading this blog, thank-you. I’ll do my best to keep bringing you new topics as time allows. Let’s keep moving forward, and let’s keep building bridges! 🙂
The official websites for
- Théatre St-Denis is http://theatrestdenis.com/en/
- Le Capitole is http://www.lecapitole.com/en/index.php
Should you travel to Montréal or Québec City, these websites (in English & French) have performance information, showtimes, and tickets.
Fanny Bloom (#177)
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
Véronic DiCaire – Who is that singing? (#167)
Véronic DiCaire has become a singing sensation on two fronts, both here on the homefront as well as abroad. She has a career as a singer, with a couple of really good albums to her name. But she has become wildly famous for being able to impersonate over 50 celebrities (you would swear she is actually Céline Dion if you were to listen to her sing with your eyes shut… I’ll provide a link to her official YouTube channel below).
A couple of nights ago, I happend to see her in a whole new light, which is prompting me to write this post. I’ll get to this a bit later. But first, let’s begin from the end (the big stuff), and then quickly work backwards.
DiCaire has become a star who had a permanent show in Vegas (at least until it was no longer permanent), doing her singing impersonations. She has been a coach/judge on France’s X-Factor, and she has had numerous televised specials in Francophone Switzerland, in France, and here at home, in Montréwood.
How she came to this point is a bit of an interesting story… (un alignement fortuit des astres en sortes, if you’re looking for a new expression in French).
First, Véronic DiCaire is not from Québec. She is Franco-Ontarienne (or Ontaroise as Franco-Ontariens are now being called more-and-more) from the community of Embrun, not far from Ottawa, in the francophone region of Eastern Ontario. However much of her career has centred around Montréwood, where she found some of her big breaks.
DiCaire performed in numerous stage musicals from the time she was a young lady in the early 2000s, performing in Montréal, as well as in Paris. It introduced her to some of the larger names in Montréwood’s pop-culture industry and resulted in an album which brought her more attention as a Felix nominee in 2005.
Things moved quite fast and she became an opening act for Céline Dion’s Taking Chances tour around 2008, doing singing impersonations of other celebrities. René Angélil was won over and he sent her on tour as as star in her own right, across Québec, France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Her impersonation talents and hit performances have since made her a household name in Francophone Canada, across Francophone Europe, and with many Anglophones. It’s safe to say she has pop-star status.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned I just saw her in a whole new light. Véronic DiCaire just finished hosting SNL Québec (Québec’s version of Saturday Night Live) – and she was amazing!! I have never seen her in this light before and her acting talents are just as good as her voice. When I watched her introduction at the start of the show, the way she was carrying herself and the way she joked immediately reminded me of the type of charm Cameron Diaz radiates. Check it out and see if I’m wrong. You can watch the episode yourself on Télé-Québec’s website here: http://zonevideo.telequebec.tv/media/19936/veronic-dicaire/snl-quebec.
Something else which is kind of interesting… she shared the stage in SNL with Katherine Levac who is also Ontaroise, from a community just down the road from where DiCaire grew up.
Véronic DiCaire’s official website is http://veronicdicaire.com/
Official videos can be viewed on her on her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuKhv2Zf2Fo&feature=youtu.be
If you’re in France, Eastern Ontario, Belgium, Québec, or Switzerland over the next few months, see if you can catch one of her shows.
Please stick to official sites and do not pirate. Our artists are part of our cultural heritage.
DiCaire just annonced she will be doing pan-Canadian tours in English for Anglophones and also in French for Francophones in Western Canada, Ontario and Acadia. Refer to her official website in the coming months for dates, locations and tickets.
Mario Pelchat – Dolbeau-Mistassini’s “native son” — Part 4 (#160)
Since we’re still in the series of posts which talks about Dolbeau-Mistassini, let’s talk about one of the city’s native sons: Mario Pelchat. Pelchat was born in Dolbeau-Mistassini. He moved away as a child, but still grew up in the region not far from Dolbeau-Mistassini.
Perhaps one of the best ways to describe him is by saying he’s possibly Québec’s own version of “Michael Bolton”. I suppose there are a number of comparisons to be made.
- Both sing very similar styles of music – “pop rock ballads”.
- Both were huge in the 1990s and saw a good deal of career success in the 1980s (and they’re still both very famous to this day).
- Both garnered international fame (Mario Pelchat became quite famous in many Francophone countries, such as France, Switzerland, Lebanon and Belgium, whereas Michael Bolton became quite famous in Anglophone countries, such as Canada, the UK and Australia).
- Both began their careers quite young (Pelchat was a star at a much younger age when he was in his late teens and early 20’s, capturing a solid fan base of an entire generation).
- And just like Michael Bolton, Mario Pelchat has the ability to sell out concert halls everywhere he goes (even to this day).
Actually, if you’re learning French, perhaps MarioPelchat’s song would be perfect to help with your studies. Because he sings pop rock “ballads”, his songs and the pace of the lyrics are quite slow and well enunciated. They just might be the type of lyrics which are conducive to learning French.
Here’s an interesting personal anecdote I have which involved Mario Pelchat… When I lived and worked for a couple years in Lebanon, I quickly came to realize that everyone of a certain generation there knows Mario Pelchat (at least it seemed that way). He spent a good deal of time performing in Lebanon in the 1990s (the post civil-war years), and many Lebanese associate him with the “good times” the country went through as the war finished and they began to rebuild. It’s kind of funny actually… when people in Lebanon of a particular generation found out I was Canadian, they’d often ask me three things:
- Are you from Montréal? (to which I finally started to lie and simply said yes, because it was just too complicated to say I was from another part of the country! You have to keep in mind that everyone in Lebanon seemingly has at least one relative or friend in Montréal – and for them, Canada pretty much has no other cities),
- Is your French accent the same as Celine Dion’s? (always an awkward question – I’d just get blank stares if I said “actually, my accent has a bit more of an Alberta twinge to it” – hahaha), and
- Do you know Mario Pelchat?
It’s funny to find out what first comes to mind when people around the world think of your country – and those impressions certainly are not static, and tend vary from place to place. In Lebanon, Mario Pelchat is definitely one of the first Canadian subjects people think of – go figure!
He is also associated with the biggest of the big music names in Québec and in the French world (he’s certainly part of that small inner circle of the biggest names), many of whom have already been featured in this blog.
Suffice to say, I could write quite a bit. Pelchat has had his fair share of career ups and downs (but I’d say far more ups than downs). But instead of going on, I’ll simply refer you to the Wikipedia articles if you want to know more (the French article is particularly comprehensive):
- French Wikipedia article: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Pelchat
- English Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Pelchat
You would have to search far and wide to find someone in Québec or Francophone Canada who does not know Mario Pelchat. He has been on our TV screens and on the radio for the past 30 years.
The song I know him best for (and which I think most people in Québec and most Francophones across know word-for-word) would be:
- Je ne t’aime plus
Other songs which are well known include
- Perdu l’envie d’aimer
- Quand on y croit (a bit older)
- Pleurs dans la pluie
- Les femmes
- Reste-là (an older hit from the 1980s)
- Voyager sans toi
- Le Semeur
- Noël à Jerusalem
Pelchat has also sung a good number of French country songs (you may recall the earlier post on Québec country music which I wrote. Click here for it). One of his more popular country songs (a duet with Paul Daraîche) is Rosalie.
Anyway, check out his songs and videos… particularly Je ne t’aime plus. His work is available for sale through various venues. Please stick to official sites and do not pirate (our artists are part of our cultural fabric).
SERIES: THE WORST CITIES?? SERIOUSLY?? DON’T BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE!! (5 POSTS):
- The worst cities? — Don’t be so quick to judge! — Part 1: Introduction (#157)
- Dolbeau-Mistassini – The worst cities? — Don’t be so quick to judge! — Part 2 (#158)
- Port-Alberni – Les pires villes? — Ne soyez pas si prompt à « appuyer sur la détente » — Partie 3 (#159) (in French)
- Mario Pelchat – Dolbeau-Mistassini’s “native son” — Part 4 (#160)
- Rick Hansen – de Port-Alberni — Part 5 (#161) (in French)