Anglophone musicians' careers take off, thanks to La Voix
Matt Holubowski, Beatrice Keeler were both finalists on the reality show
In 2014, Matt Holubowski was bartending in Hudson and living the life of a struggling musician. The singer-songwriter did not have much success with his first album and was considering doing a master's in education.
An email from the producers at La Voix changed all that. Quebec's French version of the American reality show The Voice wanted him to audition for season three.
Holubowski wowed the judges in the blind auditions with his rendition of Ray LaMontagne's Burn, getting all four to turn their chairs around. He made it all the way to the final four on the show.
Now Holubowski is selling out concerts halls across Quebec, playing songs from his second album Solitudes, which he released in September.
"It's sort of like the wildest dreams that you never think you'll achieve, and it just kind of happens," says Holubowski.
The son of an anglophone father and a francophone mother, Holubowski grew up in Hudson and went to both English and French schools. He's bilingual but writes songs mainly in English.
His latest album Solitudes includes two French songs, which he says were much more challenging to create than his English ones. Holubowski hopes to put out a full French album, but admits it will take him time to get it right.
Since appearing on La Voix, Holubowski can now live off his music, something he never dreamed possible a few years ago. He has also become somewhat of a vedette in Quebec, often stopped for photographs and his autograph.
Holubowski is a bit uncomfortable with his newfound fame but says it's flattering nonetheless. La Voix not only gave him a huge platform in Quebec, but it also opened his eyes to a world of music he knew very little about.
"This opened up a whole new universe of music," Holubowski said, "It's extraordinary, and it kind of tore down all of these preconceived ideas that I had about what French Canadian music was."
Holubowski now shares his music label with mainly French-language artists, on Quebec's Audiogram.
Beatrice Keeler's French song charms judges
Beatrice Keeler of Kingston, Ont., is another anglophone who kickstarted her music career after appearing on La Voix, on season four. Keeler happens to be friends with Holubowski, so she had watched her friend's journey to stardom on the show.
Unlike Holubowski, Keeler doesn't speak French, which she told the producers of La Voix when they contacted her. Despite the language barrier, Keeler decided to sing Charles Trenet's classic, La Mer. The judges were floored, and the audience thanked her afterwards.
"I got so many nice messages from people after the show saying, 'Thank you so much for trying, it means a lot,'" said Keeler.
"I understand that that's all that a lot of francophones want, is to feel like anglophones are trying to be a part of their culture."
Keeler comes from a punk and alternative background but had the opportunity to expand her musical repertoire while on La Voix.
She also made it to the semifinals on La Voix and is now working on releasing her first album in the new year.
Holubowski is busy touring Quebec, along with shows in Toronto and Paris, over the next year.
Both musicians have La Voix to thank for many of their French fans. Now all they need is for more anglophones to take notice.