During the Month of la Francophonie
Monique Giroux is one those women who writes the history of song, art, and culture, at home in Quebec as well as abroad. Since 1986 and to all sorts of audiences, she introduces and endears people to the legends of French song as well as to emerging artists. Her profound knowledge of French song makes her a reference among the most respected in the business. Presenter, producer, lecturer, expert advisor of the Charles-Cros Academy (the French equivalent of the US Recording Academy), French Republic Chevalière of the Arts and Literature, member of the French Speaking Order of America, member of the Board of Directors of the Espace Félix Leclerc (for Quebec recording artists) and of the Center for French Language for the Americas, author of the book Québec chante, Monique Giroux has also published a number of writings and created dozens of shows and television broadcasts.
An eternal admirer of those men and women who dare to take risks, to challenge the conventional order, and to take the plunge into creativity, she accompanies, guides, and mentors dozens of young artists while remaining a friend and complicit partner to the best in the business. At the helm of the radio show Fréquence Libre, broadcast from Monday to Friday from 1:30 to 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon on Channel One of Radio-Canada, Monique’s voice welcomes, with warmth and an open mind, all the great artists of song.
Monique Giroux takes her civic duty very seriously. Beginning in 2005, she has mentored Mille mots d’amour, a box set published annually and sold for the benefit of Impatients, an organization whose work through art therapy helps people suffering from mental illness. She is an ardent supporter of Jeunes Musiciens du Monde that creates traditional music schools pour troubled youths in India and Quebec.
Eternal Charles Aznavour
Of all the French artists whose names appear with top billing, he is the oldest, but more importantly, he is the most famous. With a career spanning more seventy years, he has traveled the world so many times and sang on so many of stages – La Bohème, Hier encore, and Emmenez-moi – that the only thing left to do is to salute Charles Aznavour’s tremendous success and impact on French song. Of Armenian origin, Charles Aznavour was born in Paris in 1924. In 1947, for the very first time, he set foot on the American continent. Without a penny to his name, he met up with Edith Piaf in New York who was singing at the Versailles. Piaf showed him the way to Montreal, a place where French was spoken, saying, “Go have a look, you could work there, make a bit of money.” The rest is history.
While Aznavour’s personal life and love affairs were not quite as tumultuous as those of his mentor Edith Piaf, his artistic journey is notably well-stocked and contains a number of hidden anecdotal treasures. Monique Giroux interviewed Charles Aznavour many times but she lost count of the number of his shows that she attended. She participated in the creation of a ten-hour radio series entitled Charles Aznavour – About My Life.
Edith Piaf: Hardly a Bed of Roses
Forty-five years after her death, Edith Piaf still stirs our curiosity and our admiration. This kid off the streets – this feisty little scrap of a woman – carried the world’s passion and its joy and pain by living out completely the words of the songs she sang. Perhaps those songs were her life’s script. Edith Piaf has often been imitated but never equaled.
In 2007, Olivier Dahan, the young French movie producer-director, came out with La vie en rose, a feature-length film starring Marion Cotillard.
The film was honored with an Oscar for Best Actress. The film highlights several aspects of Edith Piaf’s life and has allowed millions of people to discover this surprising personality whose life was too short – she died at age 48 - but who nonetheless influenced all of French popular culture. It is impossible to speak of French song without speaking of Edith Piaf. Was she really born on a sidewalk? How was she able to sing Hymn to Love the very night the love of her life, Marcel Cerdan, died? What about her daughter Marcelle? What about her mother who was also a singer? What about her numerous lovers, Yves Montand, Georges Moustaki, Paul Meurisse, Eddie Constantine? Will we ever truly know the author of La vie en rose?
Other subjects (available on request)
- Saint Germain-des-Prés: Neighborhood and Culture – thinking about Juliette Gréco, Boris Vian, Le Café de Flore, and Les Deux Magots
- Woman in French Song: Portraits of Barbara, Juliette Gréco, Jane Birkin, and Françoise Hardy
- Serge Gainsbourg: A Portrait
- The Legacy of the Great Ones: A panorama of New French Song. Who are those who will take up the torch of French song of the 21st century? Bénabar, Grand Corps Malade, Benjamin Biolay, Vincent Delerm, Olivia Ruiz
Punctuating her lecture with anecdotes, interviews, and songs, Monique Giroux will tell the story of the life and career of these two great figures.
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