Covered Classics: ‘Chante-la ta chanson’ by Zaki Ibrahim

Photo of Zaki Ibrahim in the studio

This month, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) welcomes Chante-la ta chanson  written by Jean Lapointe and Marcel Lefebvre into the Hall of Fame. To celebrate the induction, Canadian-born R&B, soul and jazz singer-songwriter and Juno nominee, Zaki Ibrahim, puts a unique spin on this timeless classic as part of the CSHF and CBC/Radio-Canada’s Covered Classics series.

Songwriter Marcel Lefebvre was driving back from his family cottage on a Sunday night when the words and melody for Chante-la ta chanson came to him almost spontaneously. “I thought to myself, my god I have a hit!” Marcel told an interviewer. “I didn’t have my tape recorder on me and so my kids and I sung it the whole drive home so that I wouldn’t forget it.”

Shortly thereafter, Lefebvre contacted Jean Lapointe with whom he had been writing songs for a few years. They each took turns adding phrases and melodic lines, and together completed the chorus and verses. Chante-la ta chanson was released on Lapointe’s 1979 solo album recorded at Montréal’s famed Studio Tempo. The song first appeared on the Radio Mutuel chart on May 4, 1979, and stayed there for 7 weeks, quickly becoming a classic in Lapointe’s repertoire.

Its simple and memorable melody made Chante-la ta chanson an undeniable favourite of choirs and instrumentalists alike. The most famous cover, however, is the 1978 version by Les Compagnons de la Chanson, which made the song a huge hit in Francophone Europe as well. It was also one of the very first songs ever recorded by a young Celine Dion. Chante-la ta chanson became a SOCAN Classic (for accumulating 25,000 radio plays) in 1995.

Born in 1935, Jean Lapointe co-founded popular music duo Les Jérolas at age 20 with composer, guitarist and comedian Jérôme Lemay, which enjoyed a successful 15-year career. Lapointe then turned to acting in movies, and has been featured in more than thirty films. Lapointe returned to music in 1975 and had 25 years of success, collaborating mainly with his friend Marcel Lefebvre. In 1982, he founded Maison Jean-Lapointe, an organization that operates addiction treatment rehab centres. He was also a senator from 2001 to 2010.

Born in in 1941, Marcel Lefebvre was first interested in studying philosophy, but switched to music in the early ’60s. While still in school, he wrote songs for Marc Gélinas, Renée Claude and Dominique Michel, and penned many French adaptations of Anglophone hits. He also wrote screenplays and scored several movies in the early ‘70s. He began collaborating with Jean Lapointe in 1975; over the next 40 years, the pair wrote more than 100 songs together. Lefebvre has devoted most of his attention in recent years to his other passion: painting.

In the video below, watch Zaki Ibrahim pay tribute to Jean Lapointe and Marcel Lefebvre with her captivating and uniquely arranged rendition of the song Chante-la ta chanson.

Chante-la ta chanson
Written by Jean Lapointe and Marcel Lefebvre
Performed by Zaki Ibrahim, accompanied by Casey Manierka-Quaile & Alister Johnson

For more information on the song Chante-la ta chanson