Tag Archives: Roch Voisine
A number of new album releases have come out in time for those hitting the classrooms but are not necessarily enjoyed only by the student crowd. On August 28, supposed former infatuation junkie Alanis Morissette released her new studio album Havoc and Bright Lights which has topped the Billboard Canadian Album Chart. Released the same day was Vancouver rapper Madchild’s Dope Sick which made it to #3. On August 31, Manitoba punk band Propagandhi, around since 1986, launched the album Failed States. We already talked about the new release from Montréal’s Stars (The North) which managed to top the iTunes albums chart a day after release on September 4. We’ll profile some more albums coming out later this month. For now, other releases that came out September 4 include the following.
Catherine Durand – Les murs blancs du Nord
Studio Album: #5
Félix Awards: 2 Nominations
Album Certifications: None yet
Folk singer Catherine Durand was signed by Warner Music and released her first album, Flou, in 1998. Her song “Peu importe” received a SOCAN award in 2002 as one of the 10 most played songs of the year. She has sung with Kevin Parent and written songs for Isabelle Boulay, Renée Martel, and Annie Blanchard. In 2009, she won a Canadian Folk Music Award for Songwriter of the Year. Her music has been endorsed by France’s heavyweight star Francis Cabrel.
In her new album, Les murs blancs du Nord, Catherine surrounds herself with a legion of all-star musicians, like Jocelyn Tellier, Robbie Kuster (of Patrick Watson) and François Lafontaine (of Karkwa). All tracks were recorded live in just five days. Durand is considered to be a trailblazer for a new generation of cheerful young folk singer-songwriters.
Matt Mays – Coyote
Studio Album: #5
Province: Nova Scotia
JUNO Awards: 4 Nominations
Album Certifications: None yet
Official Website: http://www.mattmays.com/
He was born in Hamilton but grew up in Cole Harbour, NS. His first album, a self-titled work, appeared in 2002. He hooked up with band El Toredo and released an album three years later. Music videos were picked up by MuchMusic and Ron MacLean listed the band as one of his favourites. After releasing two additional albums, Matt Mays and El Toredo parted ways in 2009, although he kept a couple of its musicians to work with him. Coyote is released under his name, “Take It on Faith” being the lead single. Matt will be on tour to support the album, details on his website. Given the album title, I suppose he’ll be able to engage in product placement activities for Acme Corporation during his live shows.
The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs
Studio Album: #4
JUNO Awards: 3 Wins
Album Certifications: 1 Gold
Official Website: http://www.thesheepdogs.com/
Heavily hyped by the media and no doubt stoked by their JUNO awards this year, Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs have released a new studio album that was produced by the drummer of American country rock band Black Keys whose statement earlier this year that Nickelback was the biggest band in the world was promulgated enthusiastically by the press. Although this is the fourth album from the band, it bears a self-titled name. “The Way It Is” which tips its toque to Bruce Hornsby while paying homage to early 70s style rock and roll is currently in the Billboard Hot 100.
Roch Voisine – Confidences
Studio Album: #20
Province: New Brunswick
JUNO Awards: 2 Wins
Album Certifications: 3 Multi-Platinum, 3 Platinum, and 3 Gold
Official Website: http://www.rochvoisine.com/
Roch Voisine needs no introduction. He is one of the finest male vocalists around, and one of the few to have successful sales in both official languages. In 1989, he became the first Canadian singer to score a Diamond album in France. Its title track, “Hélène” was the first Francophone Canadian song to finish as the #1 song of the year on the Québec charts. The David Foster produced “I’ll Always Be There” is perhaps his most successful English song, which appeared on the RPM year-end charts of both 1993 and 1994. Having completed his Americana trilogy, Roch’s newest studio album, consisting entirely of original compositions, is a French-language release entitled Confidences, featuring the new single “Montréal-Québec” as well as a 14-minute song entitled “Le chemin”.
Born: 1963, St. Basile, New Brunswick
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Pop
- Diamond Album in France: Hélène, 1989
– 66th biggest-selling artist of all-time in France (4th best-selling Canadian)
– Francophone Album of the year award at France’s Victoires de la musique
– 8 million albums sold worldwide
– 4 Multi-Platinum and 3 Platinum albums in Canada
– Male Artist of the Year Juno Award, 1994
– Five Major Felix Awards
Major Félix Awards
- Song of the Year, 1989: “Hélène”
– Male Artist of the Year, 1989
– Album Artist of the Year, 1990
– Song of the Year, 1993: “La légende Oochigeas”
– Male Artist of the Year, 1995
Studio Albums and Hit Singles¹
1986: Sweet Songs
1987: Roch Voisine
- 3x Platinum
– Diamond in France
– Hit Singles: “Hélène“, “Pourtant”, “Avant de partir”
- 2x Platinum (Canada and France)
– Hit Singles: “Darlin’”, “La berceuse du petit diable”, “La promesse”, “Pretty Face”, “On the Outside”, “Waiting”, “A Fishing Day”
1993: I’ll Always Be There
- 4x Platinum
– Hit Singles: “Oochigeas (Indian Song)”³, “I’ll Always Be There“, “There’s No Easy Way”, “Lost Without You”, Shout Out Loud”, “Am I Wrong”, “She Picked on Me”, “For Adam’s Sake”, “Heaven or Hell”
1994: Coup de tête
– Hit Singles: “Laisse-la rêver”, “Jean Johnny Jean”.
1996: Kissing Rain
– Hit Singles: “Kissing Rain”, “Deliver Me”, “Shed a Light”, “With These Eyes”, “Love Never Dies”
1999: Chaque feu…
2000: L’album de Noël
2000: Christmas is Calling
2001: Éponyme Roch Voisine
2003: Je te serai fidèle⁴
2005: Sauf si l’amour…
2009: Americana II
2010: Americana III
¹ As he had hits on various charts—French, English, Quebec, Canada, France, Pop, AC, country, etc.—we’re not listing the peak positions
² This was a double bilingual album. Disc 1 contained French songs, Disc 2 English songs. A self-titled (single) album was also released which had the same content as the English disc of Double. This English-only album was certified 3x Platinum in Canada.
³ The French version, “La légende Oochigeas”, was a hit single from an earlier live album
⁴ Contains six new songs and nine revamped hits
Coming from Quebec, we had known several popular singers, and even some headliners. With Roch Voisine, for the first time, we have a star. A real star. Of the kind that unleashes uncontrolled and simultaneous commotion in thousands of teenage girls.
—Louis-Bernard Robitaille, La Presse, Montreal (on Voisine’s success in Europe)
It had always been easier for Canadian artists to do well in the U.S. than the United Kingdom, despite Canada’s belonging to the Commonwealth. Europe had often been a tough nut to crack. It was even harder for Francophone artists. Canada’s hypocrisy in calling itself bilingual and then refusing to give airplay to French Canadian songs on English radio stations meant that Francophone artists could only sell records to the few million people in Québec. Although Quebecers tended to support their artists magnanimously by buying more records than their Anglophone counterparts, it was still a market not large enough to earn a decent living. Many Quebec artists branched out by publishing books, acting, and putting on extra shows and concerts.
A number of Francophone artists released English albums for English Canada to savour. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, English Canada, with the odd exception, paid little attention to these. It would have been more strategic for them to release their debuts in English first and, once they saw success, release a French album. But it took a long time, through experimentations and failures, for such a truth to come to light.
Like Anglophones, Francophones were also finding it difficult to break out in Europe. But they didn’t have the option of making names for themselves in the United States. To make decent money, they needed to sell lots of albums in France (not to mention Switzerland, Belgium, etc.) whose population was eight times that of Quebec’s. The chances of a French Canadian album going Platinum in France were remote; going Diamond was a pipe dream.
But everything changed in 1989. A fluently bilingual Canadian born in New Brunswick, raised in Quebec, and university-educated in Ottawa released a French language album. It was a hit in Quebec, a hit in Belgium, a hit in Switzerland, and was certified Diamond in France. Later on, he became one of the few Canadian artists to match his success in English Canada with English language albums and singles. His name is Roch Voisine.
Roch Voisine was born as the oldest of three children in New Brunswick and grew up speaking both English and French. His parents divorced when he was four and his paternal grandparents helped raise him. He moved in with his father when he was eight. When he was 12, the family moved to Notre-Dame-du-Lac, northeast of Quebec City. He pursued a career in hockey, joining Quebec City’s Remparts, but a knee injury during a baseball game in 1981 dashed his hopes. He began studying physiotherapy at the University of Ottawa and wrote songs with former hockey buddy Stephan Lessard. Lessard’s uncle, Paul Vincent, was a disc jockey, so they called him up for help in recording a demo tape. Vincent had the right connections and they were able to complete the demo for only $50 because the recording engineer was amused by two former hockey players performing music.
Vincent listened to the result and wanted to sign Voisine but felt he was too young and should finish school first. Voisine graduated in 1985 after writing more songs. Two English albums were made of his material but were ignored by the industry. He gave his first public performance during Canada Day in 1986 before a crowd of 50,000 at La Ronde amusement park in Montreal. In 1988, a television station asked him to host “Top jeunesse”, a variety show for teen-agers.
Roch called Vincent and asked him for further assistance, as he wanted to take the next step and make a hit single. Vincent took on the role of Voisine’s manager. Les Disque Star in Quebec was mesmerized with him but suggested that he stick to French language records and try to tackle Quebec and possibly France first.
In 1989, Voisine spent 500 hours recording the romantic ballad “Hélène” on acoustic guitar for his forthcoming album. He had co-written the song with his old hockey buddy Lessard. Les Disque Star heavily promoted the song and, before it was released to the public, it already had 40,000 advance orders in Quebec. The record company, excited with this, pressed Voisine into finishing the recording of the album in three weeks. The single was launched in Quebec and France. It won the Felix Song of the Year award, and helped the album top the singles chart in France (not to mention Belgium, Switzerland, and Norway) for nine straight weeks, sell 3x Platinum in Canada and become the first Canadian Franco album in history to be certified Diamond in France. Not bad for a debut.
Roch wanted to conquer the English market in Canada but had to play it safe. It had been attempted before with little success. The strategy implemented was releasing a double album with one disc of French songs and a second of English songs. If English Canada didn’t respond to the English songs, at least the Francophones would buy the album for the French songs. The album was entitled Double. The strategy proved wise. He did get airplay in English Canada but on the AC (and country) radio stations. On their charts, his biggest hit was “On the Outside” (#5). This was enough success to release only the English disc as a separate album; it was self-titled. Double was certified 2x Platinum, selling 700,000 copies in Europe, and Roch Voisine 3x Platinum. Roch was offered a role in the CBC TV mini-series “Lance et compte” (“He Shoots, He Scores”).
He proceeded to France becoming the first Canadian French performer to do a four-night run at the Zénith in Paris. He held 38 concerts in Europe in 1991 including appearances in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Roch returned to Europe in 1992 for three months that included a show at the Eiffel Tower grounds (Champ de Mars) before a crowd of 75,000. The show was broadcast live and reached 14 million viewers. He took part in the Canada Day celebrations in 1992, joining producer David Foster on Parliament Hill. They co-wrote a song together called “I’ll Always Be There” and performed it in front of Queen Elizabeth II in honour of Canada’s 125th birthday
In 1993, Voisine’s English breakthrough album, I’ll Always Be There, came out. It included the title-track song with Foster which made the RPM year-end charts for both 1993 and 1994. “Lost Without You” also made the year-end chart. The album was certified 4x Platinum. He had now conquered English Canada.
He returned to doing a French album: Coup de Tete came out in 1994 and spawned two hit singles. Two years later he signed a lucrative recording contract with BMG and, after settling in Los Angeles, recorded and released the English album Kissing Rain. The title-track was another big hit in Canada. He married Myriam Saint-Jean in 2002 and had two children. The couple separated in 2007, the same year that Voisine was given an honourary doctorate in music by the Univerity of Moncton.
Although Roch’s popularity has eased up since the Kissing Rain years, he has continued releasing albums, alternating between French and English. His French language work has continued to enjoy airplay in Europe (especially France) and Quebec, while his English-language recordings are a staple of Canadian adult contemporary radio.
Why was Roch Voisine so successful?
Voisine was one of the few bilingual artists successful in French Canada, English Canada, and France / Europe. Why was he able to outdo other artists and accomplish such widespread popularity? Here are the results of our analysis:
1. He has an amazingly beautiful voice.
2. He was born outside of Quebec perhaps giving his English music more credibility in English Canada
3. His songs are lighter, more on the adult contemporary side, making them appealing to people of all ages
4. He is fluently bilingual with no accent in either language giving him more credibility when interviewed
5. He collaborated with big-name producer David Foster
Roch Voisine’s Official Website is HERE.
Copyright 2011 Canadian Music Blog
People often lump all ten years of the 80s together when talking about music. But the late 80s was very different from the early 80s. While the United States was celebrating Madonna’s fusing of new wave and disco in the birth of modern dance music, Canadians, despite an occasional dabble, were moving away from new wave into bare bones rock, perhaps encouraged by Bryan Adams’ success. Things took a sudden sharp turn backwards in 1989 with a veering away from progressive music to more traditional blues, rock, folk, and country. Suddenly, to be “unplugged” with sqeaky acoustic guitars was fashionable, an unexpected move celebrated by some and lamented by others.
The late 80s saw the first (as far as we can remember) French song played on English radio stations, the rise of the first female Canadian rock star, which changed the musical landscape up to the present day, the first French-language Canadian album to be certified Diamond in France (and, no, it wasn’t one of Celine Dion’s!), and one of the most successful Canadian singers of all-time internationally, who remains unknown to most Canadians.
Although the biggest Canadian song of the year was a cover tune (Corey Hart’s rendition of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love”), the year was the second most important of the decade (after 1985) for Canadian music, as twelve domestic ditties made the year-end Top 100 chart. Besides artists we’ve already profiled, there was Winnipegger Joey Gregorash, who had scored some hits back in the early 70s, his biggest being “Jodie”, a #3 hit in 1971. After years of inactivity, he suddenly surfaced again with “Together (The New Wedding Song)”, the second biggest Canadian song of the year. The most important newcomer in 1987 was a country-pop band from Toronto called Blue Rodeo. Their “Try” was the third most popular Canadian song of the year and won the Juno for Song of the Year. Blue Rodeo won the Juno for Best Group of the Year three years in a row.
Newcomers with significant hits that did not quite make the year-end chart included Ottawa’s one-hit wonder band Eight Seconds (“Kiss You When It’s Dangerous”). Sheriff (“When I’m with You”) members had split in half and formed two spin-off groups. The first, Frozen Ghost, came out with hits “Should I See” and “Round and Round”. The second was Alias which scored a megahit in 1990. (Glen) Johansen had played keyboards for Ronnie Hawkins after which he worked as a producer (M+M, FM) especially for reggae acts like Guyana’s Eddy Grant. He enjoyed his own hit single this year: “Walkin’ a Fine Line”. Saskatoon’s The Northern Pikes had their first Top 30 hit this year (“Teenland”). We’ll talk a bit more about them in the early 90s when they saw their biggest success. One of the most popular club bands in Toronto, The Jitters, managed a hit (“Last of the Red Hot Fools”). Another Toronto outfit, the twin DiBlasi sisters, as Tu, made the Top 20 with “Stay with Me”.
She never scored a Top 40 hit … on the pop charts, but Cape Bretoner Rita MacNeil‘s hits on the country and adult contemporary charts enabled five of her albums in row to achieve multi-platinum sales. 1987′s Flying On Your Own was the first to do so. In Quebec, Celine Dion had become a force to be reckoned with; her “Incognito” won the Felix for Song of the Year. Brother and sister René and Nathalie Simard‘s beautiful “Tourne la page” was popular as well.
A treat, especially for those who grew up in the 60s, appeared “somewhere down the crazy river”. The Band’s Robbie Robertson came out with a solo album with contributions from Canadian producer Daniel Lanois, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Robertson won the Juno for Male Artist of the Year. The album, certified 2x Platinum, won the Juno for Album of the Year. Robertson was the principal songwriter for The Band and is ranked as one of the 100 best guitarists of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine.
The next two years are difficult to summarize because RPM weekly charts from October 1988 to May 1989 are missing, and there is no year-end chart for 1988. No songs from Canadian artists appear to have made Billboard’s year-end Top 100 singles chart. We do know that at the end of the year, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider released the album Victory Day finally seeing their big breakthrough: two Top 5 hit singles. It was a long time coming but they finally hit their stride with a driving rock sound. “Big Leauge” was about the death of a promising Canadian ice hockey player and gives the message that exporting Canadian talent to foreign lands is ultimately unsatisfying. New Order-sounding Kon Kan had a big international hit at this time as well: “I Beg Your Pardon”. Punky National Velvet dazzled with “Flesh Under Skin”.
Prior to mid-October…
Regina’s Colin James made a name for himself with “Voodoo Thing” becoming more successful in the 90s with a few Juno Awards. Andrew Cash, before a politician, had a hit single called “Smile Me Down”. A couple of Calgarians teamed up with a Seattle vocalist and recorded two albums in Vancouver with the assistance of Bob Rock and Mike Fraser. The result was four Top 40 hits, their first being “Never Give Up”. The band’s name was BLVD and they opened for Glass Tiger touring Canada. Barney Bentall scored his first hit: “Something to Live For”. Joe Bocan had a hit: “Repartir à zéro”. Richard Seguin was becoming popular (“Tu reviens de loin”). He had performed in previous years with his twin sister Marie-Claire as Les Séguins.
In the world of country music, small-town Alberta native k.d. (Kathryn Dawn) Lang, created a stir with “I’m Down to My Last Cigarette” off her (Platinum) Shadowland album. She was named Female Artist of the Year at the Junos. The following year, she topped the country charts with “Full Moon Full of Love”. In the 90s, she crossed over to pop and won a Grammy Award (U.S. equivalent of the Junos). Lang helped set the stage for the rising popularity of country music in the 90s which saw one of the genre’s top stars arise from Canada, scoring three 2x Diamond albums!
Canada tried its hand at dance music and managed to turn out a couple of hits. “Savin’ Myself” was a dance hit from Hamilton’s Eria Fachin. Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer while working on her second album. She passed away in 1996, at 36 years old. Candi and the Backbeat had “Dancing Under a Latin Moon”. Her “Love Makes No Promises” made the Top 10 in ’89. Sway covered the European hit “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)” from French band Ottawan (not citizens of Ottawa). The cover made the Top 10 in Canada.
On the other side of the world, a Vancouverite had become a sensation. She had recorded albums in English that Canadian radio had ignored. Knowing that the racist Canadian music industry had closed its doors to Canadians of Asian descent (despite its first pop superstar’s belonging to that category), she entered the recording studio and sang from placards of romanized words from the language of her parents—Chinese. The next thing she knew, Sally Yeh was a pop superstar in the most populated country on earth. “Good Luck” was one of the ten biggest songs of the year in China. And from there everything snowballed for her, including playing alongside Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo’s classic masterpiece The Killer. No discussion of Canadian singers who have achieved international superstardom can omit Sally Yeh.
This year saw the first French song played on English radio stations. In an as yet unrecognized national disgrace, the Canadian music industry has contradicted Canada’s policy of bilingualism, that encourages Anglophone youth to learn French, by segregating music based on language. In fact, Canadian English radio stations played two German language songs in the 80s while ignoring songs performed in Canada’s second official language. Although somewhat of a novelty song, the airplay across the country of Mitsou‘s “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” was the one brief moment that Canada’s music industry showed some nobility.
Just as Anglophone Canadians had always struggled to achieve success in the United Kingdom, Francophones were having equal trouble trying to make it in France. In 1989 fortune came their way as the first French language album from a Canadian became certified Diamond in France. It wasn’t Celine Dion. In fact, it wasn’t a Quebecer. It was an Acadian from New Brunswick named Roch Voisine and his album Helene. (The album was certified 3x Platinum at home). Roch is one of the few Canadians who released successful albums in both official languages. His 1993 English-language album I’ll Always Be There (4x Platinum) spawned four Top 30 singles.
In Quebec, Johanne Blouin was shaking things up with “Dors Caroline”. Outside of French Canada and Chinese-Canadian Sally Yeh’s success abroad, English Canadian music had been dominated by the men whether in terms of soloists or rock bands. The women had been more successful in the folk and country arenas. In the 80s, all eyes were on Luba as one of the first successful women in pop/rock. In 1987/88, she scored a Top 10 hit with a cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman”. This year she did it with an original song: “Giving Away a Miracle”. Arguably, it was Luba who had opened the door for women. And the first one to walk through the door was Toronto’s Alannah Myles, Canada’s first female rock superstar. Her debut album was the third (after Adams’ Reckless and Hart’s Boy in the Box) to be certified Diamond, with domestic sales exceeding a million copies. “Love Is” was the first hit single. The bluesy “Black Velvet” did even better, breaking into the Top 10. Interestingly, the song was received much more enthusiastically in the United States where it went all the way to #1 and finished 18th in the 1990 year-end Billboard chart. Nevertheless it won the Juno for Song of the Year, as did her (self-titled) album for Album of the Year. “Lover of Mine” was her biggest hit from the album in Canada (#2).
Another female who did quite well with a dozen Top 40 hits to her name over the years was Montreal’s Sass Jordan. “Tell Somebody” and “Double Trouble” from her debut album made it to #11 and #12 on the charts respectively. Belleville Ontario rocker Lee Aaron sang “Watcha Do to My Body”.
The biggest Canuck song of the year was Tom Cochrane & Red Rider’s “Good Times”. It peaked at #2 on the charts. Offenbach’s former front man, Gerry Boulet, had the biggest song of the year in Quebec, “Un beau grand bateau”. He died of cancer the following year. Blind blues-rocker Jeff Healey had a hit with “Angel Eyes”. He died of cancer in 2008. Gordon Peterson, under the pseudonym Indio and with the assistance of Joni Mitchell, released one album (Big Harvest) in his career that spawned the Top 10 hit “Hard Sun”, later covered without his permission by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder for the movie Into the Wild. This resulted in a lawsuit.
New bands appearing at the end of the decade included Margo Timmins-fronted The Cowboy Junkies. Their debut album in 1986, consisting mostly of blues covers, did not create much of a stir. But the song “Misguided Angel” off their second album was a minor hit. We’ll talk about them more in the early 90s when they had bigger success. Sylvain Cossette’s Paradox scored with “Waterline”, Niagara Falls’ glam band Brighton Rock with “One More Try”, indie outfit Pursuit of Happiness with “She’s So Young”, and Kelowna BC’s Grapes of Wrath with the hauntingly beautiful “All the Things I Wasn’t”.
Coming up will be a list of big songs in the late 80s, a special on the brother-sister stars Simards and Seguins, mini-profiles on Barney Bentall, The Grapes of Wrath, The Jeff Healey Band, Sass Jordan, kd lang, Rita MacNeil, and Mitsou, and major profiles on Blue Rodeo, Tom Cochrane (and Red Rider), Alannah Myles, Roch Voisine, and Sally Yeh.