Paul Piché | Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
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Paul Piché

Year of Induction: 2023
Origin: Montréal, QC

Paul Piché has become one of the most influential songwriters of Québec’s music scene. A free thinker, poet and standard-bearer of protest folk, Piché sings as much about love as he does social issues that are close to his heart, such as the preservation of our rivers and Québec’s sovereignty.

Released in 1977, his debut album À qui appartient le beau temps? sold over 100,000 copies and is now considered one of the key albums of the ’70s. Music heavyweights like Serge Fiori, Alain Lamontagne, Pauline Lapointe, as well as several members of Beau Dommage, were involved in its creation. His following two albums, L’escalier and Nouvelles d’Europe, were hugely popular successes. Piché followed them up with a live album titled Intégral, recorded at Montréal’s Spectrum, on which he revisits his whole repertoire.

He then released Sur le chemin des incendies in 1988, an album that gave us some of his most memorable hits such as J’appelleUn château de sable and Car je t’aime. The following spring, he embarked on his so-called Tour of Montréal, where he played a show at the five most important venues of the city, namely Club Soda, Spectrum, Théâtre Saint-Denis, Théâtre Outremont and the Wilfrid-Pelletier Hall of Place des Arts.

Two years later, in addition to concluding his tour with a recording broadcast on Radio-Canada’s Beaux dimanches, Piché participated in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities on the Plains of Abraham and on Île Sainte-Hélène, in front of over 200,000 people.

In the fall of 1993, he released L’Instant, an intimate and mature album of love, on which the people of his country are not left out. Then, in August 1994, he was invited to participate in the special event La Symphonie du Québec, presented during the FrancoFolies de Montréal, where he performed a few songs accompanied by a symphony orchestra.

In June 1996, Piché released the double “Best Of” album L’un et l’autre, which was certified platinum (100,000 copies sold); then, on the ninth day of the ninth month of 1999, he released his ninth album, Le Voyage, containing nine songs.

The spring of 2000 was marked by Paul Piché’s return to the stage: accompanied by guitarist Rick Haworth, bassist Mario Légaré, Jean-Sébastien Fournier on keys and Pierre Hébert on drums, he toured a dozen cities in Québec before taking over the Spectrum in Montréal and the Capitole in Québec City.

In the summer of 2002, he cycled 550 km to deliver a letter to the Premier of Québec, Bernard Landry, whom he successfully convinced not to build mini hydroelectric power plants on Québec’s rivers. Paul Piché is also one of the spokespersons for Adopt-a-River, and he celebrated the International Year of Water with J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle. This politically charged show took place in April 2003 at the Métropolis in Montréal with Luck Mervil, Richard Desjardins and Daniel Boucher.

In the fall of 2004, Paluche 3.14 was released—it was a bold project that saw some of the biggest names in Montréal’s electro-urban scene remix some of Paul Piché’s greatest hits.  

In November 2007, he published his first book, Déjà vu. Starting from an observation about the cyclical nature of fashion trends, he draws a parallel with the recurrence of political impulses, whether left- or right-leaning. The book’s intent is to clear the ground of the collective unconscious through the passage of time.

In 2009, Piché completed a series of intimate concerts during which he performed some new songs he was considering recording. Love, friendship, death and social commitment are at the heart of these songs that appeared on his tenth album, Sur ce côté de la Terre, released on December 1 of that year. Following the release of what has so far turned out to be his last album of original songs, Piché embarked on an arduous six-year tour that concluded in 2015. 

Two years later, he undertook what he called the Célébration des 40 printemps to mark the 40th anniversary of the release of his first album, À qui appartient le beau temps? He performed at the Bell Centre in Montréal and at the Centre Vidéotron in Québec City alongside artists such as 2 Frères, Safia Nolin, Éric Lapointe, Vincent Vallières, Koriass and Les Trois Accords. The response from the public was such that he was asked to tour throughout Québec. Piché would tour this show for three years, inviting different artists to play and sing with him on stage at each show. The very last performance of this tour was scheduled at Place Bell in Laval on May 20, 2020, but the pandemic forced its postponement. The final show took place on May 20, 2022.

During the pandemic, Paul Piché performed a virtual show for his fans, broadcast from the Palais Montcalm in Québec and whose content revolves around the songs of his album Sur le chemin des incendies and the context of its creation. He takes great pleasure in revisiting these songs, to his great surprise, and once more, the public’s reception is so enthusiastic that he will take it on the road. As if we needed one, this was proof of his relevance as a songwriter.

He leaves behind an impressive collection of songs in our Canadian musical heritage, including several classics—Heureux d’un printempsMon JoeY’a pas grand-chose dans l’ciel à soirL’escalierJ’aurai jamais 18 ansJ’appelleCar je t’aimeNe fais pas ça…—all campfire classics sung by countless young artists.

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