It was Cité that introduced me to Quebec greats like Beau Dommage and Eric Lapointe, as well as French-from-France classics by Charles Aznavour and Michel Sardou. It's also on these airwaves that I fell in love with Roch Voisine.
My first encounter with Roch Voisine took place in Grade 2, when the teachers at the francophone private school I was attending decided that we would sing Roch's "La Berceuse du petit diable" for our school concert. The lyrics were a little complex at times for an 8-year old, but the melody was enchanting. Even now, when the music starts and Roch sings, "Mickey Mouse et ton teddy bear," I'm transported back to my childhood.
The fascinating thing about Roch Voisine is that it seems that he was always slated for success. He fell into music when a baseball injury effectively ended what was to be a promising professional hockey career (I know!). And just like Celine Dion, Roch quickly became a bilingual singer, with hits in French and English. In fact, his second album, Double, was a double CD (so punny!) that included a disc with all French songs and another with all English songs.
You've probably heard "Shed A Light" or "Kissing Rain" or maybe even "Helen", the English version of Roch's first hit, "Hélène". I remember hearing "Jean Johnny Jean" and "J'entends frapper" over and over on the radio. Surprisingly, I remember not liking the song that has become my francophone favourite, "La légende d'Oochigeas." My favourite anglophone song, hands down, is "With These Eyes". I heard it recently and while I don't remember what I related it to when I was younger, it still makes me feel like cry-singing along with Roch.
Why am I going on and on about Roch Voisine? Because he's coming to town soon. This month, actually. Roch will be taking over the Kingston Grand Theatre on October 19, 2013 and I really really really hope he plays my favourite songs. Because there's nothing worse than finally getting to see your childhood idols live in concert and having them play only their modern hits.
I think one of the reasons Roch Voisine left such a mark on me is not just his clever lyrics, or his semi-husky voice, or his ability to write and sing in both French and English. I think it was his determination to keep searching for a career he could love that made me love him. And I mean that in a completely platonic way, of course! As a teen trying to find her way, finding out that someone who did so well for himself also had to struggle to find his way after his first dream ended? I was pretty impressed.
And so when Roch Voisine starts belting "Deliver Me" on October 19th, I'll be right there in the crowd singing along with him. So... Apologies in advance if you end up sitting next to me!