Carmen Campagne, Canadian singer-songwriter, dies of cancer at 58

A celebrated singer-songwriter who performed for children in French has died of cancer at 58, her family confirms.

Children's performer honoured with multiple awards, including Order of Canada

Carmen Campagne, a well-known French-language children's performer, has died at 58. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Carmen Campagne, a celebrated singer-songwriter who performed for children in French, has died of cancer at 58, her family confirms.

The award-winning songwriter, composer and performer spent three decades making music for kids.

"From the get-go she wanted to play for kids — she loved kids — she was a teacher, she taught kindergarten kids, she was a mom," Campagne's sister-in-law and musical collaborator, Connie Kaldor said Thursday.

"She went a little too soon, all of us would have liked to have her a little longer."

Here's a 1995 profile of Carmen Campagne's career and musical family. (Story is in French) 5:31

Campagne sold more than a million CDs and DVDs in Canada and France and won a Juno Award, four Felix Awards and a Parents' Choice Award in the United States. In 2014, she was invested into the Order of Canada for her work after receiving the award in 2013.

"Through her own compositions and traditional folk songs, she encourages Francophone youth to discover their heritage, and helps young Anglophones to learn French," the governor general's office wrote at the time.

Carmen Campagne performs at École Précieux-Sang in 2013 to promote her new album. (Story is in French) 2:05

Wanted 'quality' in kids' music

Campagne was born in Willow Bunch, Sask., in 1959, as one of seven children. She started her career as a teacher but began performing children's songs in the late 1980s.

Later, she moved to Quebec and released several French-language albums before returning to Western Canada in 2003 to be closer to her family, spending much of her time with her sister in Ste. Anne, Man., and her parents in Saskatchewan.

"She was the first person, I think, that said — in Quebec anyway — we're going to have real instruments … just because they're kids doesn't mean they don't deserve the very best of music and singing, and shows," said Kaldor.

"They were fun and I think it's why she gained such success — she was at the right place at the right time with quality."

The National Arts Centre in Ottawa lowered its flag in honour of Campagne, where she performed as part of the re-opening last summer.

"Carmen Campagne was an incredibly successful artist who delighted countless children and their parents with her music," NAC president Christopher Deacon said in a statement.

No 'mean bone in her body'

Campagne began teaching again at a school in Saskatchewan but continued to release albums.

Kaldor says the family has been fielding calls from people from across Canada who knew Campagne and played music with her.

"There's a generation of kids, who sang those songs and went excited to her shows … she just had this huge influence," she said. "She was resilient, she was talented, and she worked really hard at all that she did.

"She was a really kind person, there wasn't a mean bone in her body."

Carmen Campagne's return to the stage in 2014 after taking time off to teach. (Story is in French) 1:52

With files from The Canadian Press and Radio-Canada


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