So here's the story: A group of Manitoban musicians got together to
cover some vintage french tracks in order to celebrate Manitoba's Francophone musical heritage.
The result is Thank-you, Merci, a stunning collection of songs where history takes the form of music.
Featuring such prominent Manitoba musicians as Andrina Turenne, Marijosee, Daniel ROA and Les Surveillantes,
(to name but a few) Thank-you, Merci is a sterling album where
classic Manitoba Francophone songs receive a modern dust-up, encore une fois.
On January 3rd, all the musicians who appear on the album got together to play a sold-out show at the Salle Pauline Boutal au Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, much to the audience's pleasure.
After the show SCENE interviewed Benoit Morier, who produced "Thank-you, Merci," to see what went into making this
Where did the idea for the album come from?
The "Conseil Jeunesse Provincial" (the francophone provincial youth association) along with "Le 100 Nons" (the french language music organization). There was a need on the part of the younger generation to connect with their musical heritage.
Were most of the songs already well known to the musicians?
Most of the songs were classics in the community and well know by the musicians. Our bassist Gilles Fournier had even played on some of the original recordings.
How were the songs chosen?
"Thank-you, Merci" album cover (thankyoumerci.com)
A facebook group was created where folks could post their favourites. We also did a one hour special on the Radio-Canada drive home show and listeners called in to give their suggestions. The list was impressive. We narrowed it down to 9 songs, not for lack of good material. As usual budget dictates the scope of things.
What were the studio sessions like?
The musicians played a huge role in building the arrangements. We wanted to stay true to the original vibe of the tunes. For some songs, this meant keeping a strong melody or a catchy hook that was in the original. We did give ourselves the freedom to take the arrangements wherever we were inspired to go. Each artist brought their own flair to the recording. Some of the performers are second generation Manitoban musicians, was there a cross-generational element at play with covering some of the songs?
Definitely. My father is a musician, and was quite involved in the francophone music scene as a youg whippersnapper :) Ariane Jean's dad Ziz wrote one of the songs on the album, "Histoire d'antan" which became sort of a franco manitoban anthem. Chirstian and Sarah Dugas' parents Norman and Nicole are professionally involved in music as well. The Dugas-Brémault household is where a lot of us musicians spent most of our adolescent years jamming. My own first real recording sessions were in Norman Dugas' studio in St Boniface. He was key to turning me on to the magic of the recording studio. Do you see this group of musicians getting together again for another project.
It's unlikely to happen again anytime soon. Some of us have moved away. Geneviève Toupin and I are in Montreal, Christian and Sarah Dugas now live in Nashville. Andrina and Ariane of Chic Gamine are always on the road and so are the guys from Les Surveillantes. It was almost a miracle that we were able to make it happen in the first place! What was your favourite moment at the Thank-you, Merci concert?
To me the entire show felt special. It was amazing to have all of the roughly 20 musicians and artists that worked on the project together on the same stage. The love was felt in the entire room for sure.
The day after the big show (January 4) Andrina Turenne joined Larry Updike on CBC Radio's Up To Speed
to talk about Thank-you, Merci
and to play her contribution to the album. You can hear the interview below while above is an excerpt from that concert featuring Andrina Turenne covering Gerry et Ziz's "Histoire d'antan." .