Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Feist and Quebec

In preparing revisions to my paper on Feist and Canadian Popular Music, I'm exploring how her case is different from other Canadian musicians as per the following. Why is it that her acceptance into the French (as in France) chanson scene renders her less Canadian (or as a problematized Canadian) when a Quebec singer like Felix Leclerc is popular in France but still considered no less of a Quebecois artist?

There is a historical conception of popular music in Quebec as being separated into two genres, chanson (or singer/songwriter) and mass culture, or American-style pop styles. (Grenier 212) It seems that all French-language Quebec music has since been bunched together as chanson, and that, though the distinction in styles has been ignored, there has also been a resurgence in popularity of the traditional singer/songwriter or chanson style. (220)

Also, Quebec music has found itself aligned to (or included in) a greater global "movement" of francophone music, "la francophonie." There seems less nationalistic associations embedded in this music, then, when considered from a global perspective.

I wonder if Feist's "Canadian-ness" is simply* a non-francophone "Canadian-ness." Her chanson singing is part of this "francophonie" rather than a Canadian French-language tradition.

* "simply" is not the right word. Nothing is simple, and if one argues that something is simple, someone else can argue that it's not. Thus, with the presentation of that argument, the thing is certainly no longer "simple," whether one thinks it is ... or not.

Source: Line Grenier, "The Aftermath of a Crisis: Quebec Music Industries in the 1980s," Popular Music 12:3 (October 1993), 209-227.

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