Her biggest hit was undoubtedly “Jai un amour qui ne veut pas mourir” (freely paraphrased, undying love). Since the announcement of her death on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, at the age of 74, Renée Martel has been receiving an outpouring of tributes, proving that our love for her won’t die, despite the great void she leaves in her family, but also in the Québec music community, and among her fans of all generations.
Rightly so, since Martel was considered the Queen of the Québe country scene. Daughter of legendary country singer Marcel Martel and singer Noëlla Therrien, she followed in her parents’ footsteps at a very young age. Her very first stage appearance was at the age of five and for many years afterward, she joined her parents on tour everywhere. But it was as a pop singer that she began making a name for herself. Her immensely popular song “Liverpool” made her a mainstay on Jeunesse d’aujourd’hui, a Québec TV show similar to American Bandstand. She followed that up with “Je vais à Londres,” a classic late-’60s hit.
It was in the early ’70s that she began going back to her country roots. It was among her extended country music family that she would shine the brightest, and pursue an exceptional career, marked by great memorable songs — some of which she wrote the lyrics to, but always remaining extremely loyal to her frequent collaborators: Martine Pratte, Nelson Minville, Bourbon Gautier, Martine Coupal, and a few more who left their mark on her repertoire. Admired by Québec’s entire musical community, M artel wass offered songs by several other songwriters, gestures meant as a bouquet of flowers: Pierre Huet, François Guy, Pierre Flynn and Michel Rivard, to name but a few.
In 2018, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award during the SOCAN Gala. During the event, she received the honour from her own daughter, Laurence Lebel. You can re-live this touching moment below, as well as the interview she gave us immediately after leaving the stage, still overwhelmed by so much love and recognition.
To the woman whose music still resonates in the hearts of her passionate listeners, as well as those who, among the younger generation of artists, consider her an inspiration and an example of longevity to follow, thank you, Ms. Martel, for having offered us nothing less than excellence. SOCAN pays tribute to this Great Lady of Song and extends its deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all those who knew and loved her.