Cœur de pirate | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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Cœur de pirate

Béatrice Martin (a.k.a. Cœur de pirate), singer, songwriter, pianist, writer (born 22 September 1989, in Montreal, QC). A star in both Quebec and France, chanson artist Cœur de pirate (which translates as pirate heart) has sold more than 1 million albums and won eight Félix Awards: Debut Artist of the Year (2009), Most Celebrated Quebec Artist Outside of Quebec (2010, 2012), Female Singer of the Year (2012, 2019), Pop Album of the Year (2012, 2019) and Anglophone Album of the Year (2016). She was also named Best Francophone Artist/Group or Duo of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Independent Music Awards and won the 2022 Juno Award for Francophone Album of the Year.

Coeur de pirate

Childhood and Early Career

Béatrice Martin is the eldest daughter of Nicolas Martin, a computer engineer, and Élise Desjardins, a classical pianist, chamber musician artist and accompanist. At the age of three, Béatrice learned the rudiments of the piano. Her mother attached a great deal of importance to developing her musical skills. However, the necessary discipline, which involved many sacrifices, weighed heavily on the young musician.

At the age of nine, Martin joined the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec but gave up piano lessons around the age of 14. As an adult, she would be grateful to her mother for forcing her to practice her scales, for she realized early on that it was through her musical talent that she could best express what she feels. It was also thanks to these skills that she would grow up to pursue an international musical career.

Throughout her childhood and adolescence, Martin lived with a malaise whose source she was unable to identify. While a student at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, she found consolation in writing. To give vent to heartache, she started writing a poem in English that she finished in one sitting (a piece she would never show anyone). She realized that she had tapped into one of her creative forces. From that day on, she would turn to paper and pen to calm her anxieties.


Cœur de pirate (2008)

Martin was a fan of the works of Leonard Cohen, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour and Stromae. She found in these artists a source of inspiration to write her first songs. At the age of 18, she was the keyboard player for the music group Bonjour Brumaire. It was at this time that her younger sister, Gabrielle, convinced her to release one of her first pieces, “Comme des enfants,” on her Myspace page. She was quickly discovered by the Quebec record label Grosse Boîte, which offered to release an album. Martin composed her first music project, naming it after the character she would like to become because of both its vengeful and romantic sides: Cœur de pirate (pirate heart)

Three months later, she found herself in a studio to record an album that was released in Quebec in September 2008 and in France in April 2009. The album, which was certified platinum in Canada and sold almost 600,000 copies, met with near universal success. It skyrocketed the young singer into the spotlight in numerous television appearances, both in Quebec and France. In 2009, she won the Félix Award for Debut Artist of the Year and received a Juno Award nomination for Francophone Album of the Year. In 2010, her song “Comme des enfants” was named best original song of the year by French listeners at the 25th edition of the Victoires de la musique.

Blonde (2011)

Cœur de pirate released her second album, Blonde, in 2011. Favouring a more polished sound and juggling the themes that still concerned her the most, namely breakups and love, the singer charmed her audience with songs such as “Adieu,” “Golden Baby” and “Cap Diamant.” The album won three Félix Awards and a Canadian Independent Music Award. It was also certified platinum in Canada. Simultaneously, she collaborated on other projects, such as a compilation of English covers for the fifth season of the Quebec television series Trauma, written by author Fabienne Larouche. This soundtrack would earn her another Juno nomination, this time in the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year category.

Coeur de pirate

Roses (2015)

In 2012, the birth of her daughter, Romy, transformed the impulse of her writing. Cœur de pirate no longer wished to play the “broken girl card” or to vent her frustrations in her songs, as she had done with “Adieu” on the Blonde album.

To achieve the right direction and polish for her new album, she called on two highly skilled producers: Björn Yttling, who had worked with Lykke Li; and Ash Workman. Roses was released in early September 2015. In it, Cœur de pirate’s fans discovered a woman who had matured and blossomed.

In a December 2015 interview with TV5 reporter Patrick Simonin, Cœur de pirate talked about the difficulty of having grown up in the public eye:

“I didn’t realize the effect that it really had on me, on how I was… without friends, without a home base and all. I was doing wonderful things. I had the best job in the world, but I didn’t really have a home.… I had these ties, but the connection wasn’t there. I connected with the audience, but not on a personal level.”

She meditated on these thoughts in songs such as “Crier tout bas” and “The Way Back Home,” which she dedicated to her daughter. She also explored the theme of parent-child relations in her song “Drapeau Blanc,” which expressed her love — tense at times, but still unconditional — for her mother.

This bilingual album, with its more modern slant, also went platinum and marked a turning point in Cœur de pirate’s career, allowing her to break into the English Canadian and American markets. Indeed, her shows drew large crowds, selling out in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC. She was also nominated for a Juno Award in the Fan Choice category in 2016.


Les souliers rouges (2016)

In 2016, Cœur de pirate participated in the musical project Les souliers rouges, inspired by the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger film The Red Shoes, based on a famous Hans Christian Andersen story. Written by singer-songwriter Marc Lavoine and set to music by Fabrice Aboulker, the album contains 15 songs performed by Lavoine, Cœur de pirate and the singer-instrumentalist Arthur H.

Personal Life

After the June 2016 shooting of some members of the LGBTQ2 community in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Cœur de pirate felt the need to reveal, in an open letter, that she is “queer.” She came out as pansexual by confessing to having a relationship with transgender punk singer Laura Jane Grace. She later stated that she is first and foremost attracted to the person, regardless of their gender or sexual identity. (See also LGBTQ2 Rights in Canada). Shortly after this, she also announced that she was separating from French tattoo artist Alex Peyrat, the father of her daughter and her husband since 2012.

The mixed reaction of some of her fans to this news upset her greatly. Finding it difficult to deal with her fears and doubts, Cœur de pirate decided to withdraw from the public eye for a time. She gradually turned to alcohol and sank into depression. At the same time, she was faced for the first time with writer’s block, forcing her to question the future of her career. Out of love for her daughter, she tried to regain her courage. (Martin and Peyrat got back together and renewed their wedding vows in March 2017 but were divorced in December 2018.)

Ultimately, it was thanks to the invitation of the French television channel M6 to become a judge on the television show Nouvelle Star that Cœur de pirate regained control of her life. Uncertain at first, she decided to accept the challenge. It was seeing a young Venezuelan performer, Yadam Andrés, sing her song “Crier tout bas” that renewed her interest in her own musical career.

En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé (2018)

In 2018, Cœur de pirate released a new album, entirely in French, called En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé. In it, she evoked solitude, toxic love and assault — very intimate subjects that she dared to speak of openly thanks to the #MeToo movement. In an interview with La Presse, she stated the following in reference to her song “Je veux rentrer”: “I never would have been able to talk about it by myself. I salute the strength of the women who came forward and named their aggressors. I think that is extremely courageous. I did it through music because music is a part of me. I dealt with the trauma in my own way.”

Cœur de pirate made a comeback with yet another solid, convincing album. She spent 2018 touring Quebec and France, where she performed her show at the Olympia in Paris. In 2019, she was honoured by SOCAN with a Popular Music Award for “Prémonition,” as well as the prestigious Songwriter of the Year Award.

Perséides (2021) and Impossible à aimer (2021)

In March 2020, Cœur de pirate underwent surgery to remove a hemorrhagic polyp on her vocal cords. She couldn’t speak at all for a week afterward. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to sing again one day,” she told La Presse. “If you don't heal well, there is always a risk. I was really stressed.” With her voice out of commission, she turned to her first love, the piano, to boost her spirits during her recovery. The resulting album, Perséides (2021), is a 10-track instrumental work featuring only piano. Each song is named after a place in Quebec that she visited with her family as a child.

In January 2021, Cœur de pirate bought Dare to Care Records, the label with which she had been recording since 2008, after its founder, Eli Bissonnette, left due to accusations of creating a toxic workplace. Cœur de pirate took over as the label's new president and artistic director and changed the name to Bravo Musique to mark the beginning of a new chapter for the company.

Her first album with the revamped label, Impossible à aimer, was released in October 2021. Featuring more of a disco sound and influenced by French pop music of the 1970s, the album went on to win the 2022 Juno Award for Francophone Album of the Year. In January 2022, she gave birth to her second child, son Arlo — her first child with her new partner, Marc Flynn, a bartender she met while on a date with someone else. Later that same year, she went on a 23-date tour of Europe with Arlo by her side.


Awards

Félix Awards

  • Debut Artist of the Year, ADISQ (2009)
  • Most Celebrated Quebec Artist Outside of Quebec, ADISQ (2010)
  • Female Singer of the Year, ADISQ (2012)
  • Pop Album of the Year (Blonde), ADISQ (2012)
  • Most Celebrated Quebec Artist Outside of Quebec, ADISQ (2012)
  • Anglophone Album of the Year (Roses), ADISQ (2016)
  • Pop Album of the Year (en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé.), ADISQ (2019)
  • Female Singer of the Year, ADISQ (2019)

Others

  • Debut Artist of the Year, Gala alternatif de la musique indépendante du Québec (2009)
  • Victoire Trophy, Best Original Song of the Year (“Comme des enfants”), Victoires de la musique, France (2010)
  • Indie Award, Francophone Artist/Group or Duo of the Year, Canadian Independent Music Awards (2012)
  • Popular Music Award (“Prémonition”), SOCAN Awards (2019)
  • Songwriter of the Year Award, SOCAN Awards (2019)
  • Francophone Album of the Year (Impossible à aimer), Juno Awards (2022)