Le Vent du Nord: Territoires

Oz, Neverwhere, Asteroid B-612—great artists create worlds or pair real domains with fantasylands to explore larger questions. Count in this company Le Vent du Nord, vanguard of Québec’s progressive folk movement. On Territoires, they tread overlapping realms—the Québec and New France of today and of history, of the heart, imagination and aspiration. No surrealism in these territories but the ensemble more than compensates with soundscapes … More Le Vent du Nord: Territoires

Shauit: Apu Peikussiakᵘ

Song can be a pathway to survival for threatened languages. Over the past generation the 10,000 speakers of Innu in Québec and Labrador have seen a creative surge in new music. The folk-rock duo Kashtin gained prominence in their community and in broader Canadian society, especially after their songs were featured on the TV series Due South and later on soundtrack compilations. It was at a music festival in Maliotenam, an Innu First Nations … More Shauit: Apu Peikussiakᵘ

Jeremy Dutcher: Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa

In the popular imagination, time travel typically involves a fanciful machine. In real life, Jeremy Dutcher visited the past using the wax cylinders of an Edison-era phonograph and digital technology that preserved recordings made in 1907. An opera singer and composer—and faithful son of the Wolastoq First Nation of New Brunswick—Dutcher dug into the archives of the Canadian Museum of … More Jeremy Dutcher: Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa

2Frères: La Route

You can’t take the country out of the boy. And with 2Frères—Erik and Sonny Caouette—you can’t really take the boys out the country, either. When the retro folk-rockers dreamed big, they moved from Chapais, population 1,600 and 700 kilometers north of Montreal, to Cowansville, population 12,000 and 90 kilometers east of Québec’s culture capital. So far and no farther. Unpretentious family guys, they conquered the airwaves (with invaluable input … More 2Frères: La Route

Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II

The song Shpatsir in Vald (A Walk in the Forest) has everything—poignant dialogue between lovers about to be separated by war, a dulcet Russian waltz melody and the spellbinding voice of Sophie Milman (video 1). The lyrics were penned in 1944, but the song wasn’t released until 2018—and therein lies a story. The Soviet Union, World War II: A team of ethnomusicologists led by … More Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II

Galant, tu perds ton temps: Nous irons danser

Charmingly deceptive, Galant, tu perds ton temps literally means, “Young man, you’re wasting your time,” but in practice the name of the five-woman ensemble of traditional Québec music seems as much a term of endearment as a brushoff. Their playful songs are filled with courting, flirting, unfaithful suitors and ill-fitting marriages arranged by clueless fathers. On Nous irons danser (We Will Dance), the women—Evelyne Gélinas, Isabelle Payette … More Galant, tu perds ton temps: Nous irons danser

The Jerry Cans: Inuusiq

The ties that bind the disparate genres of the Jerry Cans’ third album—country and folk, rock and reggae—are the people, families and language of Canada’s Nunavut territory. Fronted by native Inuktitut speaker Nancy Mike (vocals, throat singing, accordion) and her husband Andrew Morrison (lead vocals, main songwriter, guitar), who learned the album’s primary language as a condition of marriage, the five-person band gives a tundra texture to every song, using music as a bridge between tradition and modernity … More The Jerry Cans: Inuusiq

Émilie Janvier

She was a reality show star on Québec TV at 13 and comes from a musical family, but on Émilie Janvier’s eponymous debut album and in the interviews she’s done to promote it, she reveals her core shyness, crafting lyrics and music to channel feelings and tell stories that might otherwise remain hidden. If her acoustic pop/folk songs (with some well-placed country string pulls) can be defined with a single word, it’s warmth. She finds it romance, family … More Émilie Janvier

Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey

Yiddish is often discussed in before-and-after terms. As a language of daily life it barely survived the Holocaust, and postwar Jewish migration led to further decline. So when the Czech-born Canadian singer Lenka Lichtenberg decided she wanted to perform in a language that hadn’t been spoken in her family for generations, it was less an exercise in adult education than in resurrection. There are other Yiddish singers today, but arguably no one has done more … More Lenka Lichtenberg: Yiddish Journey