Les traductions pour les articles avant l’automne 2013 ne sont pas disponibles pour le moment.

Last January, Rita Chiarelli received the prestigious Blues With A Feeling award at The Maple Blues Awards. Derek Andrews, President of The Toronto Blues Society (which bestows the awards), says Chiarelli « is a pillar of the Canadian blues community, inspiring many women to follow her and pushing the creative envelope. »

Such  lifetime achievement awards are often bestowed in an artist’s twilight years, but in her acceptance speech Chiarelli pledged, « I ain’t done yet. » This tireless Toronto blues-rock veteran is busier than ever, and 2011 is shaping up to be the best year of her career. Her most recent album, 2010’s Sweet Paradise, is still showing plenty of life, while she’s now making a real impact on the big screen.

          Music From The Big House, a documentary film conceived by Chiarelli, received a selected release in theatres across Canada in March, with the U.S. and Europe following. By that time, it had already earned critical acclaim from appearances in major U.S. film festivals, and will doubtless enhance Chiarelli’s international profile.

          Music From The Big House is a powerful film based around Chiarelli’s experiences in the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly referred to as Angola – the largest maximum security prison in the U.S.. The prison’s population has included such notable musicians as Leadbelly, Pete Williams and Aaron Neville, and this rich musical history caught Chiarelli’s attention.

« I’d never heard of Angola before, but I went on something of a blues pilgrimage down Highway 61 about 10 years ago, » she recalls. « In my research I came across Angola, and powerful recordings of some of the women once there… Later, I saw a sign on Highway 61 saying ‘Angola, turn right,’ and that’s how it started. » Chiarelli took a tour of the facility, and told the warden she might want to do a concert there. « I couldn’t get it out of my mind, » she says. « After a couple of years, I went back down and asked to meet some of the musical inmates. »

She terms the result « an epiphany. I heard them perform, and I knew then that I should really do a concert with them. » Music from the Big House shows Chiarelli making music with the inmates in styles ranging from blues to country to soul and gospel. It also demonstrates the ability of music to transform the lives of people who’ve made terrible, tragic choices. Making the film has also transformed Chiarelli. « It has been the most outstanding experience to date in my life, » she says.

Chiarelli decided the concert should be filmed for posterity. Her choice to direct was longtime friend Bruce McDonald. Known as Canada’s premier rock ‘n’ roll moviemaker via such films as Highway 61, Roadkill and This Movie Is Broken. McDonald immediately jumped on board, and the clout of his name helped snare Oscar-nominated documentary producer Erin Faith-Young, of Cache Film and Television, and funding from the Bold and Documentary channels

Chiarelli and McDonald first met and collaborated back in 1989, as they were both launching their careers. McDonald heard Chiarelli’s independent single « Have You Seen My Shoes? » on the radio and instantly knew it had to be in his film Roadkill. He got in touch, used the song in the movie and ended up directing a video for it, boosting Chiarelli’s career.

Prior to Roadkill, the Hamilton-born-and-raised Chiarelli had received some attention fronting R&B band Battleaxe and as a member of Ronnie Hawkins’ band. She’s always been known for the lusty, paint-stripping power of her voice and her high-energy performances, but has gone on to gain real respect as a songwriter. For instance, her album Sweet Paradise is comprised solely of Chiarelli originals.

« Songwriting has come rather late in my career, and I’ve really worked on it, » she explains. « Singing was natural. I loved being a vocalist, and I was happy for a long time doing other people’s material… Then I really started getting the itch to write. » Chiarelli digs deep in her soul-searching material.  » It’s almost like you have to be courageous enough to expose yourself, » she says. « I’ve found the more you open up in telling how it is for you, the better it’s accepted. »

After releasing acclaimed and often Juno-nominated albums with various record companies, Chiarelli now records for her own label, Mad Iris. Recent work has showcased her artistic adventurousness. She turned heads and won a new world-music audience with her 2006 album, Cuore; The Italian Sessions. A record comprising traditional Italian material sung in dialect, it won her the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Solo World Music Act. Equally ambitious was 2008’s Uptown Goes Downtown Tonight… Rita Chiarelli with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, featuring earlier material rearranged for the symphony.

Chiarelli is already considering her next studio album. « I have this itch to do something I haven’t done in a long time, a really wailing blues record, » she says.

Rita Chiarelli certainly ain’t done yet!

 


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Il y a tout juste un an, un certain Philémon faisait irruption dans le paysage de la chanson d’ici. Sa participation à Vue sur la relève et aux Francouvertes, une expérience glanée au fil des ans, doublés d’un talent fou et d’un tour de chant intense, sensible et émouvant ont allumé une rumeur qui a propulsé le jeune auteur-compositeur-interprète jusque dans les palmarès de fin d’année. Quelques journalistes se sont entiché de sa mélancolie enjolivée d’arrangements cubains, de ses textes à fleur de peau et – osons l’écrire – de cette grâce, de cette pureté rarissimes et qui font sa fibre.

Fin mai 2010, Philémon Chante lance Les sessions cubaines en indépendant, allant jusqu’à en assurer lui-même la distribution dans les magasins… et ce jusque chez les journalistes, au volant d’une voiture de Communauto, ne se doutant aucunement qu’un an plus tard, le même album serait lancé par la plus grosse étiquette de disques québécoise, Audiogram. « J’ai été chanceux car le fait d’avoir lancé l’album en indépendant m’a donné une certaine crédibilité. C’est du travail et beaucoup de stress, pas mal de gambling aussi. T’as zéro dollar pour la promo, tu assumes tous les rôles et chaque fois que tu dis non, faut que tu l’assumes. Je me rends compte que depuis que j’ai signé avec Audiogram, c’est pas nécessairement plus facile, en fait c’est autant de travail, plus même, car les occasions se multiplient, mais je travaille plus large et j’ai l’impression d’avoir les bras plus longs. Ce que je fais a plus d’impact. Ce que j’aime avec cette équipe-là, c’est que même si on ne s’entend pas nécessairement sur tout, il y a toujours place à la discussion et en bout de ligne, c’est moi qui ai le dernier mot. »

On connaît la petite histoire derrière l’album : le cœur en miettes, Philémon Bergeron-Langlois part en voyage à Cuba. Il y retrouve le pianiste Papacho, un cousin qu’il avait perdu de vue depuis des lunes, et se lie avec quelques musiciens locaux, se retrouve par un alignement d’astres exceptionnel au mythique studio Egrem (Buena Vista Social Club) et enregistre en quelques jours son magnifique premier album. « Des moments comme ça, aussi parfaits, ça m’est arrivé quatre ou cinq fois dans ma vie. Tu sais, quand même les imperfections contribuent à ce que ça fonctionne? Tu te retrouves dans un état où t’es tellement bien que tu te mets à croire à tout. Le bon Dieu a la main sur ton épaule. Je n’aime pas les situations contrôlées. Quand tout est prévu à l’avance, je m’emmerde. Cette vie en éprouvette qu’on essaie parfois de recréer en Amérique du Nord me dégoûte; on passe à côté de quelque chose. »

La mélancolie de Philémon enveloppée d’arrangements cubains, toutes ces couleurs cuivrées ajoutées aux tonalités crépusculaires de sa musique : il y a là un ingénieux mariage des sensibilités, une union naturelle et convaincante. Une question s’est posée une fois Philémon rentré à Montréal : comment s’approcher d’un tel résultat sur scène? Une suite d’essais et erreurs, de rencontres et d’ajustements l’ont mené au groupe de musiciens actuel. Son cousin Papacho avait même fait le voyage depuis le Mexique jusqu’à Montréal pour le deuxième lancement sous l’égide d’Audiogram en avril dernier. Quant aux autres musiciens ayant contribué à l’album, « certains savent qu’il a été lancé, mais garder contact avec eux est difficile, car plusieurs n’ont ni Internet ni téléphone. En plus à Cuba, ils ont juste accès à un Intranet, ils n’ont même pas le droit d’aller sur Google! J’ai envoyé quelques courriels via Facebook à la fille qu’on entend chanter et à ma prof de danse, mais j’essaie de me planifier un petit voyage à Cuba pour leur remettre l’album en mains propres… » La boucle de cette fabuleuse épopée serait alors bouclée.


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Les traductions pour les articles avant l’automne 2013 ne sont pas disponibles pour le moment.

Shawn Marino is new to music publishing but he’s no stranger to the Canadian music scene. The new Vice-President of Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) Canada, Marino has spent his career on the label side of the business: he started as an intern with Polygram Records, then secured an entry-level gig as a publicity assistant upon graduation from York University in 1994. He worked his way into A&R (Artists & Repertoire, the department which signs and develops artists) following the merger of Polygram Records with Universal Music in ’99.

It should come as no surprise then that A&R  is a cornerstone of Marino’s strategy as he takes the reins of UMPG Canada. “I’ve been working on a way to creatively integrate the two departments (A&R and publishing),” he says.

“There’s a lot of commonality in the two rosters and we want to make sure that both sides are nurtured. I took over officially in January 2011 and since then we’ve restructured the A&R department on the record side, with a goal to being more of a full-service company for our artists and writers. A&R and publishing are now in the same physical area, so when artists and writers come in everybody gets to know each other. If an A&R guy is working on a record and needs a song, he needs to know who our writers are.”

The integration theme continues on the synchronization (« synch ») licensing side for film and television, with a merging of master licensing (of the recording,  handled by Catherine Jones) and copyright licensing (of the song, handled by Diane Lametti). “We’re much more of a one-stop-shop now,” says Marino, “at least in instances where we control both the master and the publishing.

“We also want to be able to show potential signings that the Toronto office of UMPG is an integrated company with UMPG worldwide, and if they sign with us they have the full benefit of the entire group. We want to show them the advantages of our merged synch department and our tightness with the A&R side.”

Marino admits there’s been a slight learning curve when it comes to the nuances of music publishing, but he arrived better versed in copyright than many of his label cohorts. “I have the luxury of having been here for a long time and having known and worked with all the great people who have come and gone,” he says, citing John Redmond, Allan Reid, Linda Bush, J.P. Pineiro, Jodie Ferneyhough and Chris Corless as valuable resources from whom he learned.

Since assuming his new role, Marino has joined the boards of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA). Not that he has any empty hours to fill  –  the current year includes new releases from UMPG Canada writer/artists Hedley, Stephan Moccio, Jann Arden and Sam Roberts, among others. “It’s going to be a busy one,” he predicts.


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