Jean-Pierre Ferland

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About Jean-Pierre Ferland

Jean-Pierre Ferland was one of the greatest singer/songwriters Quebec has produced, second only to Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault. First a singer/songwriter in the French tradition of Léo Ferré and Georges Moustaki, he turned to art pop/rock in the early '70s, releasing his most-acclaimed albums (Jaune, 1970; Soleil, 1971). His inspiration waned in the late '70s, so he turned to television work. After some time out of the spotlight, he came back to music in the mid-'90s, releasing the career-crowning Écoute Pas Ça in 1995 and enjoying a renewed relationship with a wider public. Born June 24, 1934, Ferland worked as an accountant before joining the news service of the Société Radio Canada (the French-Canadian public radio/television) in 1956. At that time, he started taking guitar lessons and writing songs. Two years later, he quit his job and recorded his first sides. In May 1959, with a group of other songwriters, he opened Chez Bozo, the first folk cabaret in Montreal. It became an important venue, attracting French singers, and was instrumental in establishing his standing. Between 1959 and 1969, Ferland released nine LPs of French chansons. Some of them were recorded in Paris -- early on, Ferland had enjoyed an important following there. His ease on-stage, his crooner attitude, and occasionally naughty lyrics endeared him to the press. His eighth record, contained the song "Je Reviens Chez Nous," which became a classic in the French-speaking world. Yet, something was wrong. A younger artist, Robert Charlebois, who had started out as a folk singer and was initially inspired by Ferland, had become a psychedelic rocker. Not willing to go to the extremes the costumed, surrealistic-speaking Charlebois was exploring, Ferland wanted to update his own sound to please a younger generation, and he looked in the direction of San Francisco. In late 1970, he released Jaune, a brilliant art rock album that redefined the Quebec recording industry; it is considered Quebec's own Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The same year, he sang at the World Fair in Osaka, Japan. After a couple of rock-oriented albums and a live LP in the mid-'70s, plus an appearance at the concert 1 Fois 5 (with Charlebois, Vigneault, Claude Léveillé, and Yvon Deschamps), Ferland's output started to slow down. His early-'80s attempts to follow the latest music trends yielded a couple of hits but were artistically awful, the 1984 Androgyne was an all-time low. He gradually focused on his career as a TV personality, hosting a number of popular variety shows including Station Soleil (1981-1987). He made a recording comeback with Bleu Blanc Blues in 1992. It was met with skepticism, although it re-established him as an entertainer. Critical acclaim didn't come until 1995's Écoute Pas Ça, an enormous artistic and commercial success. Ferland toured for the next four years with the acoustic quartet that recorded this album. Jean-Pierre Ferland died on April 27, 2024, at the age of 89. ~ François Couture

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
June 24, 1934
Musique francophone
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