It’s April 14, 2013, and Jérôme Couture is a finalist on La Voix, the Québec edition of The Voice, itself and immensely popular TV singing contest followed by millions of viewers. The artist, who Marc Dupré took under his wing, didn’t win, but he still won the hearts of millions in the province thanks to the show. But above all, he’s since gained a tremendous amount of experience, that he still uses to this day as he places hit after hit in the Québec pop charts. But few people know that Couture didn’t get to where he is because of luck alone. The dynamic, Saguenay-born singer-songwriter worked relentlessly for a decade before reaching the height at which he now stands, determined to make a place for himself in the hearts of his audience.
As a matter of fact, Gagner sa place (Making One’s Place) is the title of his second album, launched this fall. The album’s first single, “My Sweetest Thing,” was No. 1 on the pop radio charts when we met. The song, a highly addictive earworm, makes you want to move, and puts a smile on everyone’s face. “We treated ourselves on this album, we explored different styles – like soul, retro sounds and even electro-pop accents that border on disco!” says Couture, visibly pleased with the end result.
To better understand the formative stages of the young star, one has to go back about 15 years, and take heed of the incredible amount of work Couture has put in, both in the studio and onstage. While studying jazz singing at Université Laval, a demanding program in and of itself, the young man took on any and all opportunities that were offered to him. He played in Québec Issime’s productions, then on to Elvis Story, Les Misérables, and the Oh Boy musical review, where he garnered the attention of Matt Laurent, Martin Léon and France Castel, all of whom gave him precious advice. “I don’t believe in chance,” says Couture. “Everything that happens to me happens because I’ve worked for it. I give everything I’ve got, in all my projects.”
Being a contestant on La Voix gave Couture a level of exposure of which others can only dream, but he got there as well-prepared as can be. Unpretentiously, he explains that all those years singing onstage, perfecting his art, and believing in himself made that challenge accessible when the occasion materialized. “I can’t deny that it’s quite dizzying when the production assistant asks you if you’re ready to sing for three million viewers,” he says, “but I’d decided to go into this having fun, to focus on myself and to give it my all, so that I could walk away from that experience with pride, no matter what the outcome was.” And in doing so, he won the hearts of tens of thousands of fans charmed by his authenticity and positive attitude.
Ever since he started writing songs that are true to who he is, success has been his constant companion. “I’m a positive guy who likes to be on the move,” says Couture, “and you can feel it in my music. I think of being onstage a lot when I write: I need to feel like dancing!” His new album definitely communicates this enthusiasm and drive.
The hard-working young man is also rigorously self-disciplined. Every morning, with his first coffee, he grabs his guitar and writes, then records his work. “If a song passes the next-day test, I’ll keep it and improve it.”
The musician fully recognizes the influence of many people he’s met, but he has only praise for the man he now considers his mentor, Marc Dupré. “I found the person who took me to the next level,” says Couture. “He’s an amazing writer and composer. His advice is precious. He doesn’t hesitate to point out stuff that I need to improve. A verse to re-write, an arrangement that should be changed, a line to sing differently… He’s very detail-oriented, just like me, and isn’t satisfied with a song that doesn’t live up to its full potential. Working with him is like a dream come true.”
Couture is proud to have written and composed, sometimes with the help of collaborators, 11 out of the 12 songs on his second album, a tribute to the amount of road he’s covered. This time around, he worked with John Nathaniel (Alexe Gaudreault, Final State), a newcomer to his already solid team of songwriter Nelson Minville, musical director Marc Dupré, and Gautier Marinof helming the production. Couture is also very involved in his arrangements, an art for which he developed a deep interest during his musical studies.
Now, the young singer-songwriter hopes to shine on Europe’s biggest stages, and maybe even pursue a career in English. And why not? “I don’t set limits for myself,” he says. “Others have done it; I don’t see why I couldn’t!” You can bet he’s already working on it.