Singer-songwriter Diane Juster won everyone’s heart in Québec in 1979 with “Je ne suis qu’une chanson,” a powerful, touching ballad sung by the great Ginette Reno – who made the song hers like no one else could. Winner of the Song of the Year ADISQ Award that year, the song was a gigantic hit, as was the album of the same name, which sold more than 350,000 in a little over a year. “Je ne suis qu’une chanson” received the Cultural Impact Award at the 30th SOCAN Awards Gala on Sept. 22 at La Tohu in Montréal. Eric Parazelli, Editor of the SOCAN online magazine Paroles & Musique, met with Reno on the red carpet as she was preparing to honour Juster, where she told us about the impact of this tremendous song on her career.
Jean Leloup surprised everyone with a performance during the 30th SOCAN Awards Gala, on Sept. 22, 2019, at La Tohu in Montréal. He was there to receive his first three SOCAN Classic Awards, alongside his co-writers and publishers, for his massive hits “1990,” “Isabelle,” and “Cookie,” all drawn from his album L’Amour est sans pitié. SOCAN met with him afterwards, and asked how he felt about celebrating some of his older songs, how his songwriting has evolved since then, and how it feels to know that one’s songs are now a part of the lives of so many people.
Many of the best songwriters, screen composers, music publishers, and major players of the Québec music ecosystem gathered at La Tohu in Montréal to celebrate the 30th anniversary edition of the SOCAN Awards, where more than 50 trophies were presented to honour creative talent in La Belle Province.
Masterfully hosted by Pierre-Yves Lord, the gala opened with the presentation of four new SOCAN Classics to Luc Plamondon, making him the first SOCAN member to achieve an incredible 40 SOCAN Classic Awards. Unable to attend due to engagements in Paris, he was saluted with breathtaking performances by Bruno Pelletier, France D’Amour, and Martin Giroux, who sang three of those classics, drawn from the musical Notre-Dame de Paris: “Belle,” “Le temps des cathédrales,” and “Vivre.”
Several Special Achievement Awards were presented during the evening, including the SOCAN Cultural Impact Award for the tremendous song “Je ne suis qu’une chanson,” written in 1979 by Diane Juster for Ginette Reno, who insisted on giving the award to Juster, after an amazing performance of the song by Mélissa Bédard.
The exceptional composer and pianist André Gagnon received the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award, while Gilles Valiquette received the SOCAN Special Achievement Award for the major role he played in defending the rights of creators, notably through his 26 years of service on the SOCAN Board of Directors.
Michel Rivard, Andréanne A. Malette, and Richard Séguin paid Valiquette homage by singing four of his most beloved songs, “La vie en rose,” “Met un peu de soleil,” “Quelle belle journée,” and “Je suis cool,” while a myriad of artists saluted him on the venue’s big screens.
Among the other major awards presented throughout the evening were the SOCAN Songwriter of the Year given to Cœur de pirate; the new Non-Performing Songwriter of the Year award given to Steve Marin, creator of many 2Frères hits; the SOCAN Screen Composer of the Year award given to the highly creative duo and couple James Gelfand & Louise Tremblay; and the SOCAN International Award, presented to Montréal’s producer duo Banx & Ranx.
The SOCAN Publisher of the Year award went to David Murphy et Cie for his contribution to the success of many talented songwriters and his positive influence in the music ecosystem.
“This 30th edition of the SOCAN Awards Gala was a snapshot of nearly 35,000 Québec-based members (out of a total of more than 160,000): touching, creative, and incredibly talented,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “For 30 years, SOCAN has worked tirelessly to make sure that our members are paid fair and square for their music, and we’ll continue to do so every day with passion, vigilance, and enthusiasm, inspired by our members. More than ever, SOCAN is proud to play a leading role in the vibrant Québec music ecosystem, and is passionate about its continuing success.”
This year’s gala harked back to musical memories from the last three decades, with appearances from ex-MusiquePlus VJs Sonia Benezra, Anne-Marie Withenshaw, and Mike Gauthier, and surprise performances by Johanne Blouin (“Dors Caroline”), Anik Jean (who sang the SOCAN Classics “Mimi” by Lili Fatale and Bran Van 3000’s “Drinking in L.A.”) – as well as Jean Leloup, who received three SOCAN Classic awards for “1990,” “Isabelle,” and “Cookie,” and sang his magnificent “L’oiseau-vitre” to the delight of the packed room.
Extraordinary singer Luce Dufault and the SOCAN Gala musical director Antoine Gratton sang Harmonium’s “Comme un sage” and “Dixie,” respectively, during the induction of the four songwriters of this legendary band – Serge Fiori, Michel Normandeau, Louis Valois and Serge Locat – into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, held for the first time during the SOCAN Gala.
The winners of the 2019 SOCAN Songwriting Prize (French), Tizzo, Shreez, and Soft performed their hit “On fouette,” which won them the $10,000 cash prize attached to the popular public-vote contest last summer.
Something for Everyone
In the music category awards, the Hagood Hardy for world music went to AfrotroniX; the Prix Jan V. Matejcek Award for new classical music went to Keiko Devaux; the Country Music award went to the new phenom Matt Lang; the Electronic Music award was given to Montréal’s ambassador of the electronic scene, Marie Davidson; and there was a tie for the Hip-Hop/Rap award, which went to both the incredibly popular FouKi and Alaclair Ensemble.
Popular Music and Screen Composition
A total of 10 Popular Music Awards were handed out to the songwriters and publishers of the most-played Francophone songs of 2018: “Fille de personne II,” by Hubert Lenoir; “Toutes les femmes savent danser,” by Loud, Ajust, Ruffsound, Realmind, Tim Buron, and Pierre-Luc Rioux; “Prémonition,” by Cœur de pirate; “À hauteur d’hommes,” by Vincent Vallières & François Plante; “Ici et ailleurs,” by Andréanne A. Malette; “Desert Song,” by Ludovick Bourgeois & Fred St-Gelais; “Lies (v.f.),” by Domeno, Zagata & Richard Beynon; “Best I’ll Never Have (v.f.),” by Brandon Mig, John Nathaniel & Mariane Cossette-Bacon; “La nuit gronde,” sung by Kaïn and written by Steve Veilleux; and “Au sommet,” sung by 2 Frères and written by Steve Marin. The Anglophone Popular Music Award went to Charlotte Cardin and Jason Brando O’Farrell Ciciola, for their song “Main Girl.”
The gala also saluted the incredible talent of screen composers and publishers. Among the evening’s winners were SOCAN Awards Gala regular Anthony Rozankovic, and his publishers, Cinéflix Média Inc. and Anthem Entertainment, each receiving the Music for Television (International) award and the Television Music award – Fiction Programming for Mayday. Screen composers Jean-Phi Goncalves (Le tricheur), Scott Price (Les Gags) and Rudy Toussaint (How It’s Made) all walked away with trophies for a third consecutive year. Raymond Fabi received the award in the Youth Programming category for “Arthur,” and Anik Jean won her first Film Music award for her work in the movie “Bon Cop Bad Cop 2.”
SOCAN Licensed to Play Award
The vital contribution of the businesses and organizations licensed by SOCAN to use music ethically and legally was highlighted by awarding the Festival Western de St-Tite the SOCAN Licensed to Play Award, saluting not only the event’s incredible platform for the artists from Québec and Canada who play during the event, but also the excellent collaboration the event maintains with SOCAN’s Licensing department.
In Québec, a song is admissible to become a SOCAN Classic when it has played at least 25,000 times on the radio over a period of at least 20 years.