Roland ('Le soldat Lebrun') Lebrun. Singer, songwriter, b Amqui, Que, 10 Oct 1919, d Quebec City 2 Jan 1980. The popularity enjoyed by this country singer was limited mainly to the years of World War II. He joined the Canadian army in 1939 but spent the war in the camp at Valcartier, Que. He began to write and sing songs, accompanying himself on the guitar. The songs - simple words and music, delivered in Lebrun's monochromatic voice and uninflected style - became widely popular.
Lebrun spoke for simple folk like himself, servicemen separated from family and friends, at a time when the majority of Quebecers were opposed to conscription. 'Je suis loin de toi, mignonne,' 'L'Adieu du soldat,' and 'La Complainte d'une mère' are typical of his many hits. Le soldat Lebrun was unique in his disarming simplicity.
For Benoît L'Herbier, 'Le soldat Lebrun's success was singular because it did not open up a road for others to take. His example was not followed though he created a precedent. He is remembered as a passing and short-lived phenomenon' (La Chanson québécoise, Montreal 1974). Some considered him the male counterpart of La Bolduc. Like her, he reached ordinary folk grappling with the difficulties of everyday life.
Lebrun's records, 45s and 78s, were successful in Quebec in the 1940s. Material from them was reissued on the LPs Le soldat Lebrun - Grands succès d'hier (MCA Coral 37001) and Amour, victoire, liberté (Carnaval 497). In 1970 Lebrun received a gold record for sales exceeding one million.
Lebrun retired to Beauport, near Quebec City, in 1966, but occasionally made appearances with his wife and five children, especially between 1967 and 1972.