In local francophone musician Stef Paquette's words, the high school kids participating in the Quand ça nous chante music festival “basically eat, breathe, poop music all weekend.”
The 15th annual event, put on by the Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM), takes place in Greater Sudbury March 3-6.
Although hosted by École secondaire catholique l’Horizon, it takes place on the Collège Boréal campus for space reasons.
More than 375 students from about 30 Ontario French-language secondary schools will converge on the college, performing, attending workshops and listening to a number of professional concerts.
Paquette is the “spokesperson,” meaning he plays a large role throughout the weekend, presenting the opening concert, listening to the kids' performances and delivering a workshop.
Other professional musicians performing at the event are Marie-Clo, McLean and Marie-Claire. Unfortunately, due to space reasons, the shows aren't open to the general public.
This is the 12th year Paquette has participated in Quand ça nous chante, and the second time he's been the event's spokesperson.
Also well known as a television actor, including on TVO's “Hard Rock Medical,” Paquette said he wants to show students it is possible for francophone entertainers to make a living in Ontario — he's living proof.
“I'm 44, man,” he said. “I've been at this for 25 years. In my words, I've succeeded to make a living playing music in French and still live in Greater Sudbury.”
While it's a wonderful opportunity for students to perform outside of the school environment, Paquette said it's also a heartwarming experience for him, as it distracts him from the mundane realities of his life.
“I'm in the process of writing a new album,” he said.
“It's important to see 400 kids just play music and forget about the whole business side of things like 'Oh crap, I need to sell CDs' and 'How much this going to cost me?'
“You just look at that and absorb it and think 'Now I remember why I started doing this in the first place.' It had nothing to do with the money. It was just making noise that people wanted to hear.”
For more information, visit Quand ça nous chante's Facebook page.