Year Inducted: 2008
Era Inducted To: Radio Era
A classically trained singer, young red-haired prodigy André Lejeune was only seven when he began singing on radio and in churches, cathedrals, church halls and other venues. When his voiced changed from soprano to tenor as a teenager, he learned to play the guitar and write songs. He then turned resolutely to pop music and, with a repertory of American songs, began performing in local clubs in the mid-1950s. A prolific songwriter and infectious performer, André Lejeune had a successful career in ‘boîtes à chansons’ and clubs until the 1970s.
Soon after being released in 1957, André Lejeune’s song Prétends que tu es heureux became a hit, maintaining its #1 chart position for several months. After Lejeune’s song Il suffit de peu de choses was given the same enthusiastic reception, the singer started getting calls from radio stations, a sure sign of his growing popularity. His most successful self-penned song however, would be Une promesse, a work co-written with childhood friend Guy Godin that was voted Best Canadian Composition in CKAC’s 1959 Grand Prix du Disque.
In 1964, André Lejeune opened La clé de sol, a ‘boîte à chansons’ located on the second floor of the Café des Artistes, next door to the Radio-Canada buildings in Montreal. This intimate venue would see performances by many celebrated artists and was also the home of the live broadcast of the daily CKLM radio show En direct de la Clé de sol.
Lejeune went on to host a number of folk music and variety shows and produced many theme shows. From 1966 to 1968, with Jean Coutu, he co-hosted the television show À la catalogne, and was also successful with the already popular Saturday night folk music show À la canadienne on CFTM-TV in Montreal. He co-hosted the daily TV program Dîner chaud and was a welcomed guest on such popular television shows as Allo Boubou, Les Démons du midi and AdLib. André Lejeune moved to Radio-Canada in the mid 1990s, where he became host of the show Entrez la visite.
From 1977 to 1981, Lejeune headed the label Colibri, a record company that produced new talent, and in 1990 headed Les Disques Son d’Or. In 1983, he acquired his first ‘boîte à chansons’, Le Patriote à Lejeune, and went on to open many other places where patrons could eat, drink and of course, sing.
For a few years, Lejeune specialized in folk music, publishing the magazine Chanson populaire and producing the Soirées québécoises albums and, in 1981, Festin folklorique. As Manager of the International Folk Song and Music Festival, first held in Longueuil and then in the Marieville theatre he had purchased in 1997, André Lejeune acquired many young new fans for his creative endeavours as an author, actor, comedian, singer, director and producer of musicals.
Over the years, André Lejeune’s songs have been covered by several artists including Estelle Caron, Marthe Fleurant, Willie Lamothe, Les Masques d’or, Lionel Renaud, Pierre Robyn and, most recently, Cindy Daniel, whose new version of Une promesse reached the #1 chart position in 2006, nearly 50 years after the song’s original release.
As a stage, radio and television performer and a senior member of Union des Artistes, André Lejeune has been acclaimed on thousands of occasions on Quebec’s larger and smaller scenes, where he continues to radiate boundless energy through his eclectic repertory and creative intensity.