La Bolduc, née Marie or Mary-Rose-Anne Travers, singer-songwriter, harmonica player, fiddler (born 4 June 1894 in Newport, Gaspésie, Qc; died 20 February 1941 in Montréal). She was Canada's first "chansonnière" in that she sang about the daily problems and difficulties of ordinary life, and she has had a definite influence on the evolution of the chanson in Québec (see chansonniers).

Career

She was born into a large family and left home at 13 to earn her living in Montréal, where she worked as a domestic. In 1914 she married the plumber Édouard Bolduc and began to raise a large family. She started performing publicly out of economic necessity.

She was led to compose and perform by the folklorist Conrad Gauthier and her recordings on the Starr label were an enormous success in Québec. Her songs were imbued with humour and frankness, and her inimitable style was embellished with turlutages, comic ritornelles produced by clicking the tongue against the palate. Joyous, likeable and dynamic, she was guided by a keen sense of observation. With songs such as La Cuisinière, La Servante, Le Commerçant des rues, L'Enfant volé, Les Cinq Jumelles, Les Colons canadiens, La Grocerie du coin, Les Agents d'assurance and Les Conducteurs de chars, she has become a legend in Québec and has had many imitators.

Legacy

Several artists have commemorated her legacy in their recordings, including Jean Carignan and André Gagnon. Her name was given to a park in Montréal in 1991 and a Canadian stamp was issued in her honour in 1994. Her hometown of Newport maintains a permanent exhibit on her life and work.

On 20 February 2016, the 75th anniversary of her death, the Québec government named La Bolduc a person of historical importance — a symbolic gesture made under the province’s Cultural Heritage Act.