Claude Léveillée, hailed as the singer-songwriter who helped define Quebec's culture and composed songs for the legendary Édith Piaf, died Thursay. He was 78.

Tributes flowed from the province's artistic community and the provincial legislature.

Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre said the government had been in touch with Léveillée's family and didn't rule out a state funeral.

There was also talk that a piece of Montreal's new theatre district, surrounding the Place des arts auditoriums, could be named after Léveillée.

The first Quebecer to play Place des arts, Léveillée performed with such big names as Yvon Deschamps, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Gilles Vigneault and Robert Charlebois.

Piaf, the iconic French singer, invited him to Paris to write songs for her — which he did, spending months practically sequestered in her apartment. His compositions included Boulevard du crime and Les Vieux Pianos.

Léveillée made his debut in 1955 in the revue Bleu et or at the Université de Montreal, where he was studying social sciences. He went on to a stellar career that also included acting.

Premier Jean Charest told the legislature in a tribute that Léveillée "defined, in many ways, our culture."

Leveillee was part of the singing group Les Bozos and created several popular characters for childrens' TV shows. He was a collaborator of pianist Andre Gagnon, who described him as "an immense talent."

Guy Latraverse, who was Léveillée's first agent, put him in the same league as Quebec icon Félix Leclerc.

"After Félix Leclerc, there was him," said Latraverse.

In Ottawa, Heritage Minister James Moore also expressed sadness and called Léveillée a towering Quebec artist.