The 22nd annual Montreal SOCAN Awards: Celebrating music creators!
Dynamic singer-songwriter Jean-François Breau began his duties as host of the upbeat 22nd annual SOCAN Awards Montreal presentation on Nov. 16, 2011, by paying a personal tribute to the Quebec artists who had been his greatest inspirations, a list that included Michel Pagliaro, Luc De Larochellière and Daniel Lavoie. SOCAN president Earl Rosen opened the festivities on a positive note by stating that “SOCAN has had an excellent year, and we have much to celebrate. Your music is being performed around the world. In spite of today’s industry’s serious challenges, SOCAN member distributions have continued to grow.”
The first round of awards were presented to the writers and publishers of the 10 most performed Francophone songs in Quebec in 2010. One of those winners, the sartorial Dumas, introduced a new medium into the SOCAN Awards, reading his acceptance speech out of his iPhone. A very young William Deslauriers, whose song “Recommencer à zéro” ("Starting from Scratch") held the top position of the BDS Chart for a whopping 20 weeks, thanked all those whose inspiration he credited for his success: “Thank you to my very own Céline Dion, Fred Fortin, whom I met tonight!” Other recipients in that category included Annie Villeneuve, David Jalbert, Nicola Ciccone, Lynda Lemay, Jonathan Painchaud and the Respectables’ Stephan Dussault and Sébastien Plante. Jean-François Breau also congratulated those who could not be on hand due to previous commitments – Vincent Vallières, Marc Dupré, Éloi Painchaud and the Respectables’ Stéphane Beaudin – and volunteered a side-splittingly funny impression of Kevin Parent explaining with his inimitable tone of voice that he was unable to be there because he was somewhere else promoting his film Café de Flore.
Ten popular Quebec songs became SOCAN Classics, and their writers – Richard Séguin, Plume Latraverse, Serge Fiori, Laurence Jalbert (and her co-writers Guy Rajotte, Yves Savard and Marc Gillett), Jean Millaire and Marjo, Pierre Létourneau (and his co-writers Yves Martin, Angelo Finaldi and Johnny Hovaness Hagopian) all got official conformation that their songs had received more than 25,000 radio plays. As he collected his impressive three awards, Richard Séguin stressed the importance, for music creators, of speaking with a unified voice against today’s wholesale copyright infringement. “And the fight is just beginning,” he warned. True to form, another SOCAN Classics recipient, the irrepressible Plume, whose song “Bobépine” was being celebrated, had this to say about the award: “Bobépine is a big girl now – she’s just turned 40! Ironically, she was barred from radio in her early days. Tonight, she’s back with a vengeance!”
Front row, left to right: SOCAN AV Account Executive Kathleen Mercier, Daniel Scott, Anthony Rozankovic, Leon Aronson; back row: AV Account Executive Lyne Lanoue, Paul-Étienne Côté, Kevin Tighe, Philippe Leduc, James Gelfand and AV Account Executive Karine Melchior. (Photo: Michel Gagné)
Receiving this year’s International Song award, Corneille and his co-writer Sofia de Medeiros echoed a theme that resounded in many of the evening’s acceptance speeches – their gratitude for SOCAN and its employees.
Luc Plamondon and Lise Aubut had the audience in stitches as they presented Diane Juster with the Special Achievement Award, twisting the titles of two of her best-known songs to compliment her on the success her career. On a more serious tone, Plamondon recalled the circumstances surrounding the creation of SPACQ, an organization whose three co-founders were Lise Aubut, Diane Juster and himself, reunited on the SOCAN Awards stage.
Winners in the film and television music categories included Leon Aronson, Paul-Étienne Côté, James Gelfand, Philippe Leduc, Anthony Rozankovic, Daniel Scott and Kevin Tighe. Rozankovic was pleased to be honoured, but seemed to be equally tickled to have had an opportunity to meet one of his idols, Plume Latraverse, earlier in the evening: “I think ‘Les Pauvres’ is probably the most beautiful Quebec song ever written,” he said. “It made me cry.” He also paid tribute to one of his former teachers, Gilles Tremblay, winner of this year’s Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award, and to another popular musician who had inspired him, Pagliaro. The 2011 Hagood Hardy Music Award was presented to the world-renowned Quebec jazzman François Bourassa.
I-Notchz and Ricky J received the Anglophone Song award, while the concert promoter Evenko, represented by its vice-president Louise Laliberté, was presented with the Patron of Music Award. “Without you, the songwriters,” she stressed as she accepted the honour, “Evenko would not succeed.” The group of the hour, Arcade Fire, had to send their regrets and were not on hand to collect the International Achievement Award. The Life Achievement Award was presented to Stéphane Venne, a towering songwriter whose works have been performed by Quebec’s top artists.
The evening’s live entertainment was up to the task with stellar performances by Galaxie, whose singer Olivier Langevin was the 2011 winner of SOCAN’s ECHO Songwriting Prize. A dazzling medley by Marjo and a tribute to Stéphane Venne by Brigitte Boisjoli and Nicole Martin completed the program.