Jacques Labrecque | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jacques Labrecque

Jacques Labrecque. Baritone, folksinger, storyteller, producer, publisher, ethnologist, ( St. Benoît, near Montreal, 8 Jun 1917 - Longueuil, QC, 18 March 1995). He developed a taste for singing while living on his parents' farm.

Labrecque, Jacques

Jacques Labrecque. Baritone, folksinger, storyteller, producer, publisher, ethnologist, ( St. Benoît, near Montreal, 8 Jun 1917 - Longueuil, QC, 18 March 1995). He developed a taste for singing while living on his parents' farm. In Montreal he studied voice with Céline Marier, Henri Pontbriand, and Roger Filiatrault; French repertoire with Marie-Thérèse Paquin; and harmony with Oscar O'Brien, who imparted to him his enthusiasm for French-Canadian folk music. Labrecque made a successful debut at age 17 as a tenor, performing popular songs on Radio Canada programs such as "Le Réveil rural." In 1937 he played the role of Rigobert in Varney's Les Mousquetaires au couvent at the Variétés lyriques. He signed a three-year contract with National Concerts and Artists of New York in 1946 and toured Acadia. In 1949 he represented Canada at an international folk festival in Venice, and from then on he devoted himself to the performance and dissemination of folk music. He spent seven years in Europe, mainly in Paris (1951-6), where he sang with the Robert Dhéry group at the Variétés theatre. He made numerous tours for the Alliance française, appeared on ORTF and BBC radio and TV, and sang at the London Hippodrome. With the pianist Jean Guillou he gave 80 concerts for the JMC (YMC) in 1955-6 and then settled in Montreal, where he continued to sing while acting as producer and publisher of Musicana records. In addition to French and Canadian folksongs, he performed songs by new composers whose work he introduced or made more widely known, such as Jean-Paul Filion ("La Parenté"), Gilles Vigneault ("Jos Monferrand"), and Laurence Lepage ("Kino l'Indien"). He enjoyed a marked success at the 1958 Stratford Festival and the 1961 Mariposa Folk Festival. Following another JMC tour (1970-2), during which he presented an audiovisual show on folklore, he returned to Paris (1972-5) on a grant from the French government. He taught French-Canadian folksongs to students in psychomotor re-education at the U de Paris VI while giving many recitals in France and other countries. He performed at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Brussels, as well as at the JM Camp in Belgium. On one of these occasions La Cité (Brussels, 7 Mar 1974) reported that he was endowed with naturalness, verve, and a magnificent voice that can be gentle, strong, and ironic by turns; an excellent mimic, a natural actor, undoubtedly the most truly Canadian of Canadian singers, Jacques Labrecque restores to the verses of old Quebec all their dreamlike charm... He evokes splendidly the eternal soul of Canada.

After his return from Paris in 1975, Labrecque retired to the Éboulements, in the Charlevoix region (Quebec). During the summer of 1976 Labrecque presented on Radio Canada a series of 14 half-hour programs, "Chansons voltigeantes... chansons dolentes," devoted to different versions of folksongs. He performed at the Grand Théâtre de Québec in December 1979. In the 1980s, he began directing the Éditions et Disques Patrimoine, which produced his recordings, those of Jean Carignan and others, as well as the collection "Géographie sonore du Québec," a kind of folklore anthology of each region of the province. It contains songs collected mainly by Ernest Gagnon, Marius Barbeau, and Carmen Roy. Several of the roughly 15 recordings that came out in 1991 also include an information guide. Labrecque managed the Galerie du patrimoine at the Éboulements, which exhibits painters and various documents relating to the regional heritage. There he hosted the "Veillées de contes espéciales" as a tourist attraction. Labrecque's supple and expressive voice, jovial temperament, sense of humour, and ability to touch his audience made him an outstanding personality who was sometimes compared with Burl Ives and sometimes with the actor Raimu. He was a member of the Société d'ethnographie francaise of Paris.


French Operetta Airs: Lecocq - Adam - Planquette - et al. Legrand conductor, Robertson conductor. 1950. Lon LS 268. (Music from French Operettas ) Decca LX-4527.

Le Canada chante pour vous. 1953. Pathé AT-1029.

Chansons populaires du Canada. 1953. Lon LB-957.

Chansons populaires de France et du Canada. 1957. Folk FG 3560.

Noël et carillons. 1959. Lon MB-1.

Carnaval à Québec avec Labrecque. 1959. Lon MB-17.

Jacques Labrecque présente Ti-Jean. Lon MB-52.

Jacques Labrecque en France. 1960. Lon SMB-40033.

On viola t'y n'avoir du plaisir. 1961. Lon APM-1402.

French Canadian Folk Songs Fentok guitar. 1960. RCI 162.

La Parenté est arrivée... 1958. Lon MLP-100-14.

L'Inimitable Jacques Labrecque. 1959. Lon MLP-100-25.

Chansons folkloriques du Canada : collection du centenaire : (1967). 9-RCI/RCA CS 100/ (1990) 5-ACM 39 (CD).

Jacques Labrecque chante...: Patrimoine PAT-18004.

Jacques Labrecque chante Gilles Vigneault : Patrimoine PAT-18005.

Géographie sonore du monde de la mer: Ens Claude-Gervaise, Chante-Joi Ch, Romandini guitar. Patrimoine PAT-18007.

Chansons traditionnelles avec Jacques Labrecque. Patrimoine PAT-18010.

Géographie sonore du monde francophone du Canada. Patrimoine, PAT-18011.

Géographie sonore du Québec - Saguenay-Lac St-Jean. Patrimoine PAT-2000.

Géographie sonore du Québec - Charlevoix : 1983. Patrimoine PAT-2001.

Chansons traditionnelles (1995, Fonovox, VOX 7832-2, compilation).

Singers and songs: a folksong portrait of Canada=Chanteurs et chansons: un portrait folklorique [du] Canada, 1996 [Markham, Ont.]: Mercury: 769 748 001-2 (distributed by PolyGram Group Canada).

Chants du pays / Jacques Lebrecque. (Montreal) p 2002, XXI-21 Production, XXI-CD-2 1429.

Folklore de Montréal : Ti-jean Carignan, Marius Barbeau, Jacques Labrecque, Leonard Cohen, Anne Hébert, AN 2-9221-2.


Kiesel, Frédéric. "Jacques Labrecque raconte et chante le vrai Canada", Brussels La Cité, 28 Nov 1974.

Lessard, Denis. "Jacques Labrecque: le folkloriste du temps des Fêtes", Montreal La Presse, 30 Dec 1980.

Bergeron, Carol. "Des disques qui parlent de la mer", Montreal Le Devoir, 22 Sep 1984.

Paquin, Gilles. "Le Québec perd son plus grand folkloriste en Jacques Lebrecque." Montreal La Presse, 19 Mar 1995.

Thérien, Robert, and Isabelle d'Amour. Dictionnaire de la musique populaire au Québec 1955-1992. Montreal : Institut québécois de recherche sur la musqiue, 1992.

Lessard, Denis. "Jacques Labrecque, grand chantre du patrimoine". Drummondville Bulletin Mnémo, June 2000.