Canada is a land of contradictions. On the one hand, it encourages Anglophone youth to learn French, has programs in every school and even a plethora of French immersion schools. On the other hand, it tells English radio stations not to air Francophone music, refusing to acknowledge that the best motivator to learn a language is to get into its music.
It is strange indeed that Top 40 radio stations in countries without French as an official language, like China and the U.K., play French songs, while Canada’s do not. This is, frankly, embarrassing.
Are we really going to go through life missing out on all this great music by stubbornly refusing to acknowlege that we really are a bilingual country and pretending we never studied French in school? Why not become one of the enlightened ones?
We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the best music being made in Canada but that, for the most part, is being ignored outside of Québec: JUNO nominees for Francophone Album of the Year.
Interestingly, none of the nominated artists have scored huge hit singles in French Canada in the past (at least none that made the year-end Top 50); they fit more into the category of “album artists”, and they are all exceptionally gifted. None of them has thus far won a JUNO.
CATHERINE MAJOR: Le désert des solitudes
This is Catherine’s 3rd studio album, since her debut in 2004, and her first JUNO nomination. She is a classically trained pianist and her music has been described as elegant, refined, delicate, and romantic piano pop. She stands out from some of her contemporaries in that her lyrics are more literary and she had assistance in their composition from Montréal poet Christian Mistral. iTunes
CŒUR DE PIRATE: Blonde
Cœur de Pirate is the stage name of Béatrice Martin. Like Catherine, she has been playing piano since she was very young but her style is more on the bubbly side. Her (self-titled) debut came out in 2009, was certified platinum, and was nominated for Francophone Album of the Year at the JUNOs. This is her 2nd JUNO nomination. Blonde is a gold-certified album having reached #5 on the Canadian Billboard albums chart. She has collaborated with Kardinal Official, David Usher and Bedouin Soundclash. iTunes
FRED PELLERIN: C’est un monde
Fred is from the quaint little town of Saint Élie de Caxton, in the lake-dotted foothills of the Laurentian Mountains. As a folksinger, he tells intriguing stories and first released an album with his brother Nicolas in 2007. His first release as a soloist came in 2009 and was titled Silence. It went platinum and won 2 out of 4 Félix nominations. This is his second solo work, going gold only a month after release. This is Pellerin’s 2nd JUNO nomination. iTunes
JÉRÔME MINIÈRE: Le vrai le faux
Jérôme was actually born in France. He studied cinema in Belgium relocating to Montréal afterwards in 1995. He released his first album in 1996 and toured Canada and Europe. He began dabbling in electronic music and began winning Félix awards in 2002. His poetic, political, electronic venture Chez Herri Kopter was considered one of the most important albums from Québec of the year. His latest album gives him his first JUNO nomination. iTunes
MALAJUBE: La caverne
Finally, we come to Malajube. This is the band’s 3rd JUNO nomination. Hailing from Montréal, they debuted in 2004 and wooed critics from around the world with their progressive rock sound. La caverne which they wrote recorded and produced themselves is their fourth full-length studio album. The four current members of the band are Julien Mineau, Francis Mineau, Mathieu Cournoyer, and Thomas Augustin. iTunes