Canadian Music and the World

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Québec is a large province with a large population. It is also a land with a history and culture that has led to political movements in the latter part of this century calling for Québec to separate from the rest of Canada, mostly in an effort to preserve the French language, the sovereigntists say.

Headed by the metropolitan city of Montreal, Québec's music scene is set apart from that of Canada as a whole, due in no small part to the French language of the lyrics. There are many superstars in Québec who few outside the province, even in other French-speaking communities, know of. The province is indeed big enough to support its own independent music scene.

But there are some who say there is no Québec music scene -- just a Montreal one. Les disques Audiogram is the biggest independent label for French music in North America, home to some of the biggest names in Québécois music: Paul Pich&ecute;, Michel Rivard, Laurence Jalbert, and many others. Many of the same people behind Audiogram are behind L'Equipe Spectra, an entertaimnent management company that has almost a monopoly on the regions's music scene. Besides arts management and live bookings, Spectra organizes the yearly Francofolies music festival, which showcases French music from notonly Québec, but from around the world: Africa, France, and Belguim especially. The renowned Montreal Jazz Festival, the recently reinvented dance club Metropolis, and the Spectrum, a major concert venue, are also under Spectra's banner.

If you want to make it as an artist in Québec, moving to Montreal is probably the smartest career move you can make. Sylvain Cossette played music professionally for over 15 years without getting a recording contract -- after moving to Montreal he was signed within a week. Ottawa native Luce Dufault became a major force in the French music scene only after relocating. Some exceptions to this rule are the folk/rock bands Okoumé, from Iles-de-la-Madeleine, and La Chicane, from Val-d'Or.

La Bottine Souriante is a band that preserves the traditional sound of Québec folk. With call and response lyrics, fiddle, and other acoustic instruments, La Bottine Souriante is a mainstay on the international Folk music festival scene. In later years the band has added a horn section which has added to the good time feel of the band's music.

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