Quebec music artists
Beginnings to 1920
Violin music and dance made up part of French-Canadian gatherings of all social classes from the time of New France. Under Irish, Scottish and Loyalist influences, reels and folk dances (gigues, quadrilles, cotillions, etc) became a complex mix of French and English traditions. By the late 1830s, songs appeared in La Revue canadienne, l'Album littéraire et musical and Le Ménestrel. Popular sheet music in all likelihood was first published in French Canada in the mid-1850s.
Woodwind ensembles and military bands were promoted under British influence. Early in the 19th century, Charles Sauvageau was one of the first French-Canadian conductors to direct patriotic wind music and dance bands. Brass ensembles gained in importance in the second half of the century; Joseph Vézina conducted several in Quebec City.
Some songs such as "Ô Canada! mon pays! mes amours!" (lyrics by George-Étienne Cartier, music by Célestin Lavigueur), "Le Drapeau de Carillon" by Charles Sabatier, and "Un canadien errant" by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, live on. In 1880, "O Canada" (lyrics by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, music by Calixa Lavallée) appeared in its original French version. Traditional tunes were also compiled in collections such as Chansons populaires et historiques du Canada (1863) by François-Alexandre-Hubert LaRue, and Ernest Gagnon's Chansons populaires du Canada (1865).
The science of recording was born in 1877 with Edison's invention of the phonograph. In 1899, Emile Berliner founded E. Berliner of Montreal, to obtain exclusive rights for the manufacture and distribution of records in Canada; in 1903 his son, Herbert Samuel Berliner, opened the first Canadian recording studio in Montreal. Despite this, French recordings in Canada in the first 20 years of the 20th century were mainly by artists from France, such as Alfred Fertinel, Henri Cartal and Victor Occelier.
Folk Music, Country-Western, Traditional, Néo-trad and World Music
In the 1920s, folksongs and instrumental Celtic music were first recorded by French-Canadian musicians. On the Starr, Columbia, Bluebird and Compo labels, around the time of the Veillées du bon vieux temps (founded in Montreal in 1919), several singers and groups such as Charles Marchand, Eugène Daignault, Ovila Légaré, Conrad Gauthier, Les Troubadours de Bytown, Madame Bolduc and le Quatuor Alouette revived the folk music of yesteryear. Classical versions of Quebec folk music were equally in vogue. Opera and concert singers Éva Gauthier, Paul Dufault, Alexandre Desmarteaux, Joseph Saucier, Salvator Issaurel, Hercule Lavoie, Placide Morency, Sarah Fischer, José Delaquerrière, Émile Gour, and Le Trio Lyrique (with Lionel Daunais), and the companies La Bonne Chanson (with Charles-Émile Gadbois and Albert Viau) and les Variétés Lyriques, offered versions of traditional tunes. In collaboration with Herbert Berliner, producer Roméo Beaudry played a dominant role in the burgeoning French-Canadian music industry.
About the same period, fiddlers Joseph Allard, Arthur-Joseph Boulay, Joseph Bouchard, Isidore Soucy, Louis "Pitou" Boudreault, Ti-Jean Carignan and Ti-Blanc Richard recorded reels, cotillions, quadrilles and other dances of French or English origin. The accordionists Alfred Montmarquette, Philippe Bruneau, and Donat Lafleur, and harmonica players Henri Lacroix, Louis Blanchette, and Joseph Lalonde recorded similar repertoire. Traditional songs and dances continued to be published in Le Passe-Temps, La Lyre, Le Terroir and Le Carillon. In 1927, 1928 and 1930, the CPR Festivals in Quebec were notable folk music events.
There is no doubt that Quebec country and western music was influenced by the US, but from the 1930s it began to merge with folk, as demonstrated by the music of Joseph-Ovila LaMadeleine, Oscar Thiffault and Les Montagnards laurentiens. The history of French-Canadian country music dates from the career of Soldat Roland Lebrun, in the late 1930s. After Lebrun came the country music pioneers Paul Brunelle, Marcel Martel, Willie Lamothe, Roger Miron, Lévis Boulianne and Bobby Hachey. Closer to the present, La famille Daraîche, Édith Butler, Georges Hamel, Renée Martel, Patrick Norman, Stef Carse, Véronic Dicaire, Manon Bédard, Gildor Roy, Mara Tremblay and Cayouche are the best known French-Canadian country-folk musicians.
After a few decades, French-Canadian folk music seemed to distance itself from its roots, but artists like La famille Soucy, Les Cailloux, Les Cabestans, Les Quatre-vingts, Pierre Daignault, Raoul Roy, André Lejeune, Jean-Paul Filion, and Jacques Labrecque kept it alive through popular music. The establishment of the Folklore Archives at Université Laval by Luc Lacourcière (inspired by the work of Marius Barbeau), and the television program La soirée canadienne, are two examples of the efforts invested in folk music preservation.
The mixing of styles became more deliberate in the 1970s. Quebec and French-Canadian musicians in that decade and later, such as La Bottine souriante, Garolou, 1755, Beausoleil Broussard, Barachois, Suroît, Le rêve du diable, Les Karrik, Cano, La vesse du loup, Barde, Breton-Cyr, Calixte Duguay and Donat Lacroix, employed a hybrid artistic approach. Beginning in the 1990s there was a "trad" folk revival, by the younger generation and in a style said to be authentic, with Les tireux d'roches, La volée d'castors, Les langues fourchues, Le Vent du nord, Mauvais sort, Les charbonniers de l'enfer, La veillée est jeune, Légende and Les chauffeurs à pieds. Meanwhile, the revival of the same popular traditions with a fusion of musical styles as in the pop music of Mes Aïeux, Les Batinses, Michel Faubert, Grand dérangement and Québecissime, was designated "néo-trad."
The work of these artists is often categorized as "world music." Conversely, many contemporary Quebec musicians originating from elsewhere produced a repertoire of sounds considered "exotic" in Canada. Among these musicians are Bia, Lhasa de Sela, Jamil, DobaCaracol, Les frères Diouf and Soraya Benitez.