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Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire
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Author:  Proculation [ Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire ... cade-fire/

Graeme Hamilton February 17, 2011 – 8:45 pm

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Edwin Butler Arcade Fire holds up the Grammy for Album of the Year for The Suburbs

With the Grammy and Brit awards they won this week, Arcade Fire are arguably the biggest musical act to come out of Quebec since Céline Dion. But that won’t snag them an invitation to perform at the annual celebration of Quebec culture, the Fête Nationale.

A spokesman said this week that the June 24 festivities remain a strictly English-free zone. The only way the anglo Arcade Fire could take the stage would be if they sang in French, Luc Savard told the Canadian Press.

The Montreal group’s surprise Grammy win Sunday for best album has inspired pride in their home province, but has also raised awkward questions. Lead singer Win Butler, a transplanted Texan who settled in Montreal 11 years ago, offered a “Merci” to Montreal in his victory speech, and his wife and bandmate Régine Chassagne spoke more French to the many millions watching, thanking everyone in Quebec.

But the province’s cultural establishment has not reciprocated the love. Not only is Arcade Fire, with three critically acclaimed albums to date, unwelcome at the Fête Nationale, they have never been nominated for a Félix award — the Quebec equivalent of a Grammy or Juno.


Arcade Fire reflect on Grammy win

The exclusion prompted some searing criticism from popular broadcaster Marie-France Bazzo this week on a 98.5 FM talk show. Arcade Fire’s music, she said, represents “culture from here. It is made here. It speaks to our presence in the world, our openness to the world. It defines us.” But instead of being celebrated by the majority, they are shunned because they sing in English. “There is a siege mentality,” she said. “Our songs, whether they are in French, English, Italian, Arab or any other language, they should be nourished and they should travel, so we don’t come across like people withdrawn into ourselves.”

The Fête Nationale, formerly known as St-Jean-Baptiste Day, has made efforts to reflect the more diverse face of modern Quebec. In 2006, an organizer boasted of the representation of “all communities,” from aboriginal dancers to rappers and African drummers. But in a celebration that has become an expression of French pride, Quebec’s anglophone community is usually left on the outside.

Last year, the master of ceremonies of the Montreal Fête Nationale concert, talk-show host and actor Guy A. Lepage made clear that anglophone artists could only be part of the concert if they sang in French. One artist, the bilingual rocker who performs under the name Jonas, took him up on his offer.

In 2009, organizers of an alternative Fête Nationale show were threatened by language extremists after announcing that two relatively obscure anglo acts would be part of the lineup. About 20 demonstrators turned up and tried unsuccessfully to disrupt the performances by blowing on a horn, beating a drum and yelling, “En français.” The same year, organizers of a Fête Nationale talent show in the Montreal suburb of Laval turned away a trio of girls who had prepared two English-language pop songs to sing.

Yesterday, Quebec Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre said she would not be opposed if Arcade Fire wanted to sing in English at the festival, noting that René Lévesque, whose government renamed the traditional St-Jean-Baptiste celebration the Fête Nationale, intended for the event to be inclusive. The provincial government is a sponsor of the festival.

The old-guard nationalists may not be prepared to accept an English act like Arcade Fire, but there are signs that the opposition is increasingly being seen as ridiculous. Marie-Claude Ducas, editor-in-chief of the marketing magazine Infopresse, wrote on her blog that Arcade Fire’s Grammy was evidence of the benefits of living in a city “with roots in two great cultures…. It’s our DNA, our identity. And it’s an asset, even if some of our institutions — and a certain intelligentsia — seem not to know what do to with it.”

A spokeswoman for the Quebec music industry association ADISQ said Thursday that recent rule changes mean Arcade Fire’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs would be eligible for a Félix at the next awards show in October — albeit in the category of best anglophone album, not best rock album. The latter category is reserved for artists performing in French.

On Tuesday, Quebec’s National Assembly even approved a motion congratulating Arcade Fire on its Grammy win and saluting “the contribution of our francophone and anglophone artists in spreading our culture on the international stage.” It was adopted unanimously, with even the separatist Parti Québécois approving. Perhaps the members had listened to one of the group’s signature songs: Wake Up.

Author:  Arctic_Menace [ Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire

Oh, Jesus Christ Quebec. :roll:

I am at least thankful that "Fete Nationale" still hasn't really caught on and everyone young and old continue to say "St. Jean-Baptiste".

Author:  JBG [ Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire

Quebec knows the value of a buck. Most real bucks are Anglo anyway.

Author:  DanSC [ Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire

I've always found the idea of a bilingual Canada, but a Francophone-only Quebec, quite odd.

Author:  Proculation [ Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Quebec doesn’t know what to do with anglo Arcade Fire

I went to the show of the alternative Fête Nationale in 2009, cited in the text.

The dozen of people there manifesting were booed in the first minute of the english bands appearance by mostly everybody and they had to shut up. A policeman even escorted one of them out of the crowd because he was waving his large Patriotes flag just in front of the scene, hiding the show. People applauded.

Those hardcore separatists are really a minority. However, they are well placed in the organizations so they can influence the outcome of a lot of things. And people thinks we are all like them...

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