Monday, July 12, 2010

Quebec Summer Festival-Too Many English Artists-Again.....

It's good to see some people standing up to those who are once again complaining that there are too many English artists performing at the Quebec Summer Festival.

I caught an interview on the French language news station RDI with the Festival's new director, Dominique Goulet, who was harangued by a television interviewer over the issue.

Despite the aggressiveness of the questions, she kept her cool and even displayed a measure of condescension. I sub-titled a small portion of the interview;

The controversy has been raging for a while, touched off when a group of nationalist performers sent a letter to the Minister of Culture complaining that there were too many English artists performing and that a government subsidy  should not be used to promote anything other than French artists..

The directer of the Festival shot back that the English artists are the biggest moneymakers for the Festival and that it is they who actually subsidize the French artists!

In an article published in Montreal's LE DEVOIR, provocatively entitled French Music has Little Future, Ms. Goulet dropped a couple of other bombshells. She told the interviewer that there were fewer and fewer artists available to sing in French and that those that were, weren't that popular.
Of the Festival's eleven headline artists only three are to sing in French.
"I remember having dinner with friends when I told them:" I'll give you $100 if you find a French artist who could fill the Plains (of Abraham)". The question remained unanswered and Mrs. Goulet kept money. "There aren't many. It isn't because we don't want them" -LE DEVOIR

Then she touched on what may be the biggest scare;
"We must realize that the French song does not seem the way of the future, at least for now. Is this the death of the French-language song? Not necessarily. But what we see, whether here or in France, is that young people, regardless of the type of music, sing in English."
The folks over at the Saint Jean Baptiste Society and other French nationalist groups are likely going into shock over that statement.
On second thought, they are more likely happy to have been provided more 'proof' that French needs to be reinforced.

She underlined that the trend towards English in music is world-wide.
With modern technology, there's no reason for an artist to remain a 'local' and the common denominator is English, a trend language nationalists are powerless to  curtail.

Another aspect to the debate is purely commercial, with Quebec artists pushing their own economic interests in the guise of cultural independence.
"Quebec should encourage local artists instead of helping support the commercial pop business.." said Quebec songwriter Paul Piché
Once again music lovers in Quebec will vote with their wallets. If the English artists are unpopular they won't be invited back, but I think we all know where the truth lies, so do the complainers.

As in the old inspirational story of an English king who in order to demonstrate his power, ordered the ocean's tide to stop from coming in, French language nationalists will be just as unsuccessful in stemming the tide of English music.

"Waves, stop your rolling
Surf, stop your pounding 
Do not dare touch my feet!"


  1. If the quality of the music is good, they will come.

    Notice, however, I didn't state in which language the words to the music will be sung. Good music is good music. Period.

    Being Anglophone, most of the music I have listened to has been sung in English, mostly American and British singers and bands; nevertheless, there are good Canadian artists I like to hear like April Wine, Bruce Cockburn, the Barenaked Ladies, Terry Jacks and a host of others. Abba was a band of Swedes that KNEW singing in English would far surpass singing in Swedish. Same for Mötorhead and Peter Schilling (German), Golden Earring (Dutch) and many others.

    Many people I have met from other parts of the world state they learned English by going mostly to American movies. Others by reading English literature. As Reed Scowen stated in a book of his: "English is probably the easiest language people can learn to speak and write very badly." The politically incorrect website can attest to that! I've seen East Asian signs proving it, but their English is probably not as bad as my Chinese or Japanese would be, so I'll tread softly!

    I've written a few e-mail messages in French that I KNOW were grammatically difficult to swallow, but I at least make the effort as best I can.

    But I digress. Simple fact of the matter is, how many French artists, other than Céline Dion, will fill the Plains of Abraham? What has happened to Véronique Béliveau? Or France Joli? Patsy Gallant, or Diane Dufresne?

    Would these nationalists welcome Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks to sing their French version of the duet "Whenever I call you friend"? Don't hold your breath!

  2. This is a good example of what I mean when I say millions of Franco Average Joes shove those nationalists up in quite many situations, contrary to what many think.

  3. I agree with the commentary above: Good music is good music ! But the question is divide by two for me: 1) Why anglophones seems like don't listen music in other languages than english, especially in Canada ? 2)People say that french artists are bad don't know music, it's like in every culture, there's good and there's bad ! And finally, a lot of people don't understand the meaning of what they listen, maybe it's just because of that they find it better !?

  4. Another none issue being blow out of proportion. Quebec City needs to put itself on the festival map, and some people are trying to kill it. I'm sure Quebec City is feed up playing second fiddle to Montreal getting most of the festivals and the tourist money associate with them.

    By the way, does the SRC (includes RDI) need to have a complaint filed against them with the CRTC for this kinda interviews that complain about one of the countries two official languages?

    I find a lot of stuff on SRC questionable at times when it comes to a far and balanced point of view when it comes to Canada's two official languages policy.

  5. Go ahead make that complaint, not enough anglo do it. If not one complins ever, nothing ever happens.

  6. All of the 150 000 passes were sold as well as thousands of one day passes. I think the numbers speak for themselves. The Quebec summer estival is on the map for sure and will only get bigger year by year as word gets by that Iron Maiden, the Black eyed peas, Rammstein, Van Halen, Linkin Park, Scorpions, ZZ Top, Simple Plan, Akon, Kiss, Jeff Beck, Placido Domingo, Sean Paul, Sting, Billy Talent, to name a few, have all, in the past few years, performed to 80K + fans in one of the most beautifull settings of the city, where the old worls charm is everpresent.