Lisa LeBlanc, singer, songwriter, musician (born 13 August 1990 in Rosaireville, NB). Lisa LeBlanc has known success ever since her first album came out in 2012. Her music, which she describes as folk-trash with bluegrass and Cajun accents, reaches a wide audience. Her songs are often humorous accounts of the perils of love. She has been compared to Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and even Quebec singer-songwriter Plume Latraverse. Beneath her often funny lyrics, there are pearls of poetry. Her choice of words and her relentless sincerity transform the ordinary and anecdotal into a thing of beauty. Listening to Lisa LeBlanc, one can easily be laughing one minute and all choked up the next. She belongs to a generation of young Acadian artists — such as the Hay Babies, Radio, Joseph Edgar and Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire — who are firmly grounded in modern life. She says that she has been influenced by Sam Roberts, Feist, Aerosmith and, most strongly, by Stevie Nicks. Since LeBlanc’s career began, her albums have sold slightly over 140,000 copies in North America and Europe. She composes and sings in both French and English. Winner of the 2010 Festival international de la chanson de Granby, she has won many other awards in New Brunswick and Quebec and across Canada. LeBlanc first made her name with a song whose title echoes its refrain, with which many of her fans seemed to identify: “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la m—de” (“Today, my life is s—t”).
Childhood and Early Career
Lisa LeBlanc first began experimenting with music in Rosaireville, New Brunswick, where she spent her childhood — a tiny hamlet of some 50 people where there was not much else to do. As she explained in a 2013 interview with the French weekly magazine Télérama: “When I was a teenager, there wasn’t much I could to do keep myself entertained besides drawing and writing some pretty lousy poetry. But then I discovered the guitar, and I became obsessed with it right away.” She learned to play guitar when she was quite young, so that she could accompany her uncles at jam sessions. In fact, one of her best memories of Rosaireville is related to another jam session: after her senior prom, she got her friends and the school janitor together to make music in her family’s garage.
At age 16, LeBlanc was offered the chance to sing two or three times per month in a bar in Miramichi where she was working as a server. She loved the experience, and the audience response was positive. In 2007, she participated in the Gala de la chanson de Caraquet (the largest francophone song competition in contemporary Acadia) and received the award for best singer-songwriter.
Around this time, she heard about the École nationale de la chanson, a school for French-speaking singer-songwriters in Granby, Quebec, whose faculty included well known artists such as Marie-Claire Séguin and Robert Léger. LeBlanc decided that she wanted to attend, but it was another two years, during which she continued to perform frequently, before she actually enrolled. The year 2010 marked a turning point in her career, when she graduated from this school and won the Festival international de la chanson de Granby. Her reputation grew as she made her first television appearances and became a repeat guest on the show Belle et bum, on the Télé-Québec network.
Lisa LeBlanc (2012)
The long-awaited launch of Lisa LeBlanc’s first album, Lisa LeBlanc, was held at the Lion d’Or cabaret in Montreal on 28 March 2012. Her fans lined up around the corner to get in; 450 of them packed the room while dozens more were turned away for lack of space. Although the album had come out in stores only the night before, the audience already knew the words by heart. LeBlanc herself was surprised at this enthusiastic reception, but the people working with her had been expecting it. They knew that with all her hard work, the awards that she had already won, and her engaging personality, her début album could only be a success. It had the further advantage of having been produced by Quebec indie songwriter Louis-Jean Cormier.
From the first week after its release, the album Lisa LeBlanc was already the most downloaded title on iTunes in Quebec and Canada. Once people got over their surprise and amusement at the big hit “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la m—de” (“Today, my life is s—t”), they quickly grasped the deeper side of this debut album. In an abrasive tone, sometimes humorous, sometimes bittersweet or even tender, LeBlanc sang about solitude (“Juste parce que j’peux”) and the existential lethargy of the younger generation (“Cerveau ramolli” and “Du duvet dans les poches”), as well as a soul-searing account of disappointed love (“Câlisse-moi là”). She brought a breath of fresh air to the radio playlists and proved a true revelation. The album quickly sold over 40,000 copies. It was certified gold by Music Canada in July 2012, then platinum (80,000 copies) in November 2013. LeBlanc received the ADISQ Félix Award for Revelation of the Year in 2012.
In fall 2012, LeBlanc began a tour of Canada as part of the 26th annual Coup de cœur francophone music festival. Word of her talent had already crossed the Atlantic, and French fans eagerly awaited her arrival. She set foot in France in 2013 to present her first album. The critical response was so unanimously positive that in October of that year, she won the France Inter-Télérama Award for Best First Album in French. Earlier in 2013, she had been nominated for the Juno Award for Francophone Album of the Year.
Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted (2014)
On 4 November 2014, Lisa LeBlanc released the EP album Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted, which contained six songs, all in English. Recorded in Charlo, New Brunswick, the EP was the product of a road trip to two of the great music cities of the southern United States: Nashville and New Orleans. Without giving up her banjo, she showed off a new, more confident, almost punk side to her art. This album let her reach new markets and broaden her horizons while on tour — a great chance to prove that she was not just a flash in the pan and that her audience had not forgotten her. She was nominated for four Félix Awards, for Best Anglophone Album, Best Anglophone Show, Best Sound Recording and Best Mixing of the Year. Her song “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)” was nominated for the 2015 SOCAN English Song Prize.
Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? (2016)
On 30 September 2016, after four years of touring and another trip to the southern United States and to Costa Rica, Lisa LeBlanc released her second full-length album, Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? Just before the studio recording sessions for this album, she had attended a series of music workshops at Blackpot Camp in Eunice, Louisiana, and her bluegrass playing was all the better for the experience. The album’s 12 songs take listeners on a sonic voyage intended as a logical extension of the earlier EP. When asked in a 2016 interview with Le Devoir why some of the songs on this album were in English, she replied:
You know what? I never really asked myself that. I was coming back from the States and Western Canada and I was thinking in English— that’s that . Anyway, you have no control over what’s going to work or not. All you can control is how satisfied you are with your work. You have to take it or leave it. Either you stay or you go.
Her fans definitely decided to stay: in 2017, she was nominated alongside Leonard Cohen, Feist and Gord Downie for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize for the best full-length Canadian album of the year. She was also in contention in 2017 for the Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year and in 2018 for two Éloize awards: Artist of the Year in Music and Artist Achieving the Most Success Outside of Acadia.
On 15 September 2018, accepting an invitation from a friend who had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Lisa LeBlanc performed in the first edition of the SP Show, a benefit concert for the disease.
Honours and Awards
- Best Singer-Songwriter, Gala de la chanson de Caraquet (2007)
- Winner, Festival international de la chanson de Granby (2010)
- Discovery of the Year, Éloize Awards, Association acadienne des artistes profesionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick (AAAPNB) (2012)
- Revelation of the Year, Félix Awards, ADISQ (2012)
- Artist of the Year, Song of the Year (“Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la m—de”) and Revelation of the Year, Gala alternatif de la musique indépendante du Québec (GAMIQ) (2012)
- Song Revelation, Révélations Radio-Canada (2012–13)
- Francophone Artist or Group of the Year, Indie Awards, Canadian Music Week (CMW) (2013)
- Best First Album in French, France Inter-Télérama Awards (2013)
- Rapsat-Lelièvre Award, Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Ministry for International Relations and La Francophonie and Ministry of Culture and Communications of Quebec (2013)
- Artist from New Brunswick Achieving the Most Success Outside the Province, MNB Awards (2013)
- Singer-Songwriter/Group of the Year, Indie Awards, Canadian Music Week (2017)