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Smashing solitudes: Stef Paquette and Sean Barrette team up on Xmas tune

Franco-Ontarian musician Paquette records French version of Barrette's song

Four years ago, singer-songwriter Sean Barrette of Copper Cliff was inspired by a conversation he had with his young daughter, Marley, to write a Christmas song called “Angel on My Tree.”

“My daughter Marley was the one who provided the hook for the song — the whole idea of the angel on my tree,” he said.

“As we were getting ready to head out to school, we were discussing Christmas and Christmas lists, and she had said something like, well you're my favourite gift, dad.”

Barrette subsequently recorded the song, and it has received some airplay on radio stations across the country.

He also had the song translated into French by fellow musician Normand Renaud. Barrette said while he's bilingual, French is not his mother tongue, and he doesn't have the mastery of the language to write a song in French.

The French version of Barrette's tune, “Mon ange de Noël,” has recently been recorded by his friend, Stef Paquette, with backup by Sudbury bluegrass band Murder Murder. 

Paquette, a Chelmsford native, is a well-respected, award-winning Franco-Ontarian musician, as well as an actor and comedian.

Barrette said he's excited because his song is receiving exposure in the Franco-Ontarian music scene, something that probably wouldn't have happened without Paquette's recording.

“What's even cooler is this overarching idea that an Anglophone songwriter and a Francophone artist can work together through a common language,” Barrette said.

“Music really is a common language. You don't need language, necessarily for the melody, and you have this emotion that can come through in a song even if you don't necessarily understand the lyrics.”

The partnership between Barrette and Paquette may continue in the future, with Paquette recording more of Barrette's songs. Barrette said he could also see himself performing some of Paquette's music in English.

“It opens up a whole other world of songs and kind of takes down that barrier between Anglophone and Francophone,” Barrette said.

“It's arguable whether that exists or not, but it eliminates those two solitudes.”

For his part, Paquette said he recorded Barrette's song as part of a larger project. 

He's recording one song a month for the next year so that he can release one new tune every two months for the next two years. 

Releasing singles in this way is an alternative to putting out a new album (he already has two full albums and an EP under his belt), which is very expensive.

“Mon ange de Noël” is also the perfect tune to release this time of year, Paquette said, adding he plans to put out another song in February.

He said he likes the simplicity of Barrette's writing, as there's a lot of emphasis in French music on making the lyrics poetic. 

“He's like a working man's songwriter,” Paquette said. “I love what he does.”

You can check out both “Angel on My Tree” and “Mon ange de Noël” on streaming websites such as Spotify and Apple Music.