Hon. Dennis Dawson:
Honourable senators, it is rare to see artists stand the test of time, be popular on both sides of the ocean and have such a good command of different languages.
Charles Aznavour was popular in France, Canada and the United States — one of the few figures to gain such influence in the music world.
Charles Aznavour, singer and actor, passed away suddenly on October 1 at the age of 94. This man left an indelible mark on the province of Quebec, which he visited many times throughout his long career.
Monsieur Aznavour launched his career in 1946 at the age of 18. After he was discovered by Édith Piaf, he began his love affair with Quebec in 1948. He performed at the Au Faisan Doré and Chez Gérard cabarets in Quebec City together with Pierre Roche, and put on a series of shows for a year and a half. He remained in Quebec for two years and wrote songs, performed in shows and became friends with prominent members of Quebec’s music scene.
Few French singers enjoyed the kind of name recognition Monsieur Aznavour achieved in the non-French-speaking universe. Throughout his career, Monsieur Aznavour — and he was always Monsieur Aznavour — was an inspiration to people not only in Quebec, but around the world. He recorded over 2,000 songs in various languages, including French, English, Italian, German, Armenian — the language of his ancestors — Russian and, most recently, Kabyle.
Monsieur Aznavour was a great friend to Quebecers. He even visited Quebec in 2008 for Quebec City’s four hundredth anniversary. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Montreal for his contribution to francophone culture. While accepting the Ordre national du Québec, he said, “I came here as a bloody Frenchman, but before long I felt like a proper Quebecer.”
Every tale must come to an end. The death of Charles Aznavour marks the end of a long and rich chapter in Quebec’s musical history. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his loved ones and the cultural community.
When you go back to your office, ask Alexa or Siri — whatever your favourite tool is — to play some Charles Aznavour for you for the rest of the afternoon and you’ll be enjoying the afternoon quite well. Thank you.