Do you know the francophone vocal ensemble, Les-Ceusses-qui-ont-du-fun-quand-y-chantent (literally, those who have fun when they sing) ?
They are Jean-Marc Bélanger, Hélène Beaulieu, Claude Gosselin and Danielle Bonneau.
On the release of the group’s first album, an all-Yukon-made Christmas album, I spoke with leader Danielle Bonneau.
FT: How were Les Ceusses born ?
DB: I moved to the Yukon in 2002 and at that time I was craving for singing. I used to be in choirs before, but I wanted a smaller ensemble. Then I met Cécile Girard, l’Aurore boréale’s editor, and she was willing to join me.
A few other people came to sing with us – Hélène Saint-Onges, Hélène Bélanger, Pearl Pearson, Mirielle Pearson, Claude Gosselin, Jean-Marc Bélanger, Chalia Tuzlak and Hélène Beaulieu. At times there were six of us.
In the beginning, it was mostly for fun. Indeed, everyone had and still does have a lot of fun. But in my mind, it was not just an on-the-side activity. We had to grow up like a professional band.
FT: What is the musical background of the members ?
DB: Hélène [Beaulieu] studied music at the University of Montréal, but it was new for her to sing, For myself, I’m a musician. I play saxophone. I studied and I teach music.
Jean-Marc and I were in the Québec choir, V’la l’bon vent, when we were young. I think Claude has always been singing.
When Jean-Marc and I left V’la l’bon vent, we founded the vocal ensemble, Nota Bene in the Québec area. We sang in a few events, such as the Québec Winter Carnival.
FT: What is the range of your music ?
DB: We like Quebec artists – Félix, Vigneault, Ferland, La Bonne Chanson, et cetera.
Everyone in the band can propose a piece of music. We discovered some great music like that.
For each musical piece we choose, we need to do the arrangement for four mixed voices. We have a privileged relationship with a tabs arranger from Québec, Raymond Couture, who does it for us according to our voice tones.
We also have other contributors. For instance, for the Christmas album we chose some pieces composed and arranged by different musicians.
FT: A few years ago, Les Ceusses began to sing Christmas carols door to door. How did that idea come about?
DB: Jean-Marc and I used to do it professionally with our band in Québec . With Les Ceusses, we’re just doing it for fun.
Last year, we went to sing in public places like government offices, raising money for the Whitehorse Food Bank. In just one day of singing, we raised $475.
This year, we will do it on December 16, so if people want to have Christmas carols at their door they can call us.
FT: And now you have your first album…
DB: Yes, our first album is now available and $5 goes to the Whitehorse Food Bank for each album sold. We learned new songs for this album and now have 15 in total – classics and popular Christmas carols.
We are proud to say that the album is entirely Yukon made. We recorded our songs in the Bob Hamilton’s Old Crow Recording studio, Louise Richard did the graphic design, Francis Bélanger and l’Aurore boréale did the photos. It was printed at Integraphics and Steve Philp of Eclectic burned our CDs.
FT: What are the next projects for the group?
DB: We’re going to participate in two events, Chantons en cœur in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in fall 2012 and spring 2013. We’ll be singing with other choirs from of Western Canada.
Les-Ceusses-qui-ont-du-fun-quand-y-chantent will also be singing at the Fireweed Community Market’s 12 Days of Christmas craft fair, where the album will be available.
For more information call 633-2738 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.