The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) will induct four members of the iconic Québec prog-rock group Harmonium – Serge Fiori, Michel Normandeau, Serge Locat, and Louis Valois – during the 30th Anniversary edition of the SOCAN Awards Gala in Montréal, slated for the TOHU theatre on Sept. 22, 2019.
One of Quebec’s leading acts of the 1970s, Harmonium achieved commercial and artistic success in French and English Canada alike. Group founders Serge Fiori, Michel Normandeau, and Louis Valois began performing as a trio in Montréal in 1973, seeking to carve a niche between the intimacy of the chansonniers and the bolder sounds of Franco-American rock. Their innovative blend of folk, rock, and jazz would quickly take them all the way to the top.
Harmonium recorded their self-titled debut album in 1974, launching the highly successful and enduring co-writing partnership of Fiori and Normandeau. In mere months, the Harmonium album sold 100,000 copies and topped the Québec charts. Harmonium quickly went from playing Montréal’s clubs, campuses and schools – both French and English – to selling out Place des Arts, and playing to packed outdoor crowds of more than 300,000 in Québec. They also performed, in French, throughout English Canada, to delighted audiences – including those at Massey Hall in Toronto, and in Vancouver.
Their second album, Si on avait besoin d’un cinquième saison, was released in 1975. This JUNO-nominated effort, widely known as Les cinq saisons, has been deservedly named by Rolling Stone as one of that magazine’s top progressive-rock album choices.
Harmonium’s final full-length studio recording (and its first gold record), the hypnotic and sophisticated double-album L’Heptade, was launched in 1976. It masterfully blended genres, adding classical orchestral interludes written by Neil Chotem, and showcased songwriting contributions from Fiori, Normandeau, Locat, and Valois. Harmonium received another JUNO nomination, this one for Group of the Year, and toured England and Europe with Supertramp, and then California, promoting Québec music and culture all the while. In 1980 Harmonium released their only live album, Harmonium en tournée. A full 26 years later, the re-mixed Heptade XL was received enthusiastically, reaching No. 3 on Billboard’s Canadian album chart.
Having achieved iconic status in Québec, Harmonium has forged an impact far exceeding their modest output. Their L’heptade album has reached quadruple platinum sales, Harmonium double platinum, and Les cinq saisons platinum. The band has received several SOCAN Classic awards, and an honorary Félix Award, and their songs have been covered by top Québec acts, including Les Respectables, Sylvain Cossette, Eleanor McCain, Boom Desjardins, Jorane, and Lawrence Gowan. The band’s music continues to transcend linguistic and cultural boundaries to this day.