The divas of French song over time
Michel Normandeau, former member of the group Harmonium, presented the conference Mes Divas de la chanson française: une histoire de la chanson française au féminin on January 15 at the Auberge Symmes. He showed the evolution of French song divas over a period of 100 years.
Presenter of three conferences, the musician gave the first one in 2013. A lady had advised him to replicate his Radio-Canada columns in the form of a lecture. He began giving the conference of interest to us in 2015.
It was his grandfather’s idea to talk about divas. His grandfather taught him about these great ladies of song by making him listen to 70-rpm vinyl records. He taught him history through French song. “He had a great influence on my career path,” Normandeau says.
The co-founder of the Quebec folk rock group began with Thérésa, who is considered the first diva of French chanson in 1867. He went as far as Dalida, who was popular in the 1970s.
He wants his audience to learn while enjoying themselves. “I want them to have fun. I’m not teaching a university course. I want them to have fun listening to these songs and to situate them in time. In all my lectures, I always relate the song to the story.”
For example, in this conference he talked about divas in the roaring twenties and the first and second world wars, among others. “People like them because they learn things, and often it’s tunes they know,” he said.
He says his meetings are mainly for older people, although there have been young adults present “who enjoy learning about the evolution of song through historical periods.”
He has been living in the Outaouais region for 40 years and is currently preparing a 4th conference that should be ready this fall. It will focus on the history of song in relation to the history of mankind. We will see the evolution of song through the progression of humanity.
For those who were unable to attend last week’s lecture, please note that Michel Normandeau will be back in town to present it on February 26 at 1:30 pm at the same location. You must contact Lucie Dostie at (819) 592-4857 to reserve.