There is a new, francophone face in the artistic landscape of the territory.
Indeed, everyone in the Yukon’s francophony talks about this night of May 12: it was the presentation of the show Me Voilà by Sylvie Painchaud at the Francophone Centre.
The show was a premiere here in Whitehorse, but also a welcome back to the stage after 12 years of absence for this pianist-singer.
It was a chance for Painchaud to introduce herself to a Yukon audience and she made it a success by interpreting an unparallelled musical and storytelling performance.
The night left an indelible footprint in people’s hearts.
At the last edition of the Pacifique en Chanson in Vancouver in May — a showcase and performing contest for Francophone emerging artists in British Colombia and the Yukon — she won three prizes, including the Pacifique en Chanson prize, which is a feat.
The prize gives her the opportunity to represent the Yukon at the Chant’Ouest, the showcase of Francophone artists for the Western Provinces, on Sept. 23.
It is the not the first time Painchaud has been on stage; she was introduced to music at a very young age by her family. She was regularly performing in her early 20s and she also worked with Raymond Lévesque, a very popular Québec singer and songwriter during the 80s.
Following this period, Painchaud was faced with other priorities; she went back to study communications and life took over for the next few years with a career at CBC in Montréal.
“During this period, I kept writing songs once in a while,” says Painchaud. “But I was never seriously involved in a musical process.
“However, I was looking to send the lyrics of my songs to different Québec interpreters.” But life kept a surprising artistic future for her.
The moving of her family up here was motivated by a craving for change, a search for a better sense of values and the desire to distance herself from the consumption society.
Following her arrival to the territory, Painchaud began to work for the Francophone School Board of Yukon.
In March, 2009, she first came back on stage with a successful piano and voice performance at the International Women’s Day event. She also performed at the Gala de la Francophonie 2009 in Whitehorse.
So far, it was a shy comeback in the artistic life for her and she was not well known as a musician by the francophone community. She finally began to be more self-confident about being back on stage after a songwriting workshop with the Tennessee-based producer Ralph Murphy.
“Murphy helped me to correct the structure of my songs and he really encouraged me to present my work to a bigger audience,” says Painchaud.
And that’s what she did last May with the show Me voilà. Painchaud has been supported by the cultural sector of l’Association franco-yukonnaise and coached by Nicole Edwards throughout her artistic process.
Sylvie Painchaud has a precise vision of her musical projects for the future: she wants to produce a CD, yes, but she also wants to bring together francophone and anglophone musical culture like she did with her last show by inviting the musician Caroline Watt to perform with her.
Indeed, she is looking for more collaboration with anglophone musicians here in Whitehorse to satisfy both communities.
“We could just have more fun as francophones to go out for a show with our anglophone friends. I’m looking forward to seeing both communities having a very good time at the same show.”
Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.