Arsenault, Angèle

Angèle Arsenault. Singer-songwriter, actress, broadcaster, b Abrams Village, PEI, of Acadian parents, 1 Oct 1943; BA (Moncton) 1965, M LITT (Laval) 1968, honorary doctorate (UPEI) 1999. Angèle Arsenault started performing in Moncton in 1963, accompanying herself on the guitar and the piano, and also began collecting and singing Acadian traditional songs. After 1966 she lived in various parts of Quebec, sang in boîtes à chansons and on radio and TV, and subsequently toured Canada. However, it was not until 1973 that she began writing and singing her own songs (in French and English). Among these were 'Évangéline, Acadian Queen,' 'Le Monde de par chez nous,' 'La Cuisine,' and 'L'Homme et la femme.' For TV Ontario, Toronto, she was a host for 'True North' (1973-5, with Roy Payne) and for the educational program 'Avec Angèle,' which won a Gold Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival in 1974. Arsenault sang and was a host at several folk festivals, including the Mariposa and the Milwaukee, and participated in some National Film Board films, including Anne-Claire Poirier's Le Temps de l'avant (1975). She founded the Société de production et de programmation de spectacles with the impresario Lise Aubut and the singers Edith Butler and Jacqueline Lemay. In 1975 she published a collection of poems, Première, in Montreal. In 1977 she performed at the Place des Arts and reached the top of the chart with her humorous song 'Moi j'mange' and also with 'Je veux toute la vivre ma vie.' The LP Libre containing these two songs won the Félix Award in 1979 for best seller (300,000 copies). After representing Canada at the Spa Festival in Belgium (1980), she hosted the CBC TV series 'Angèle' for Atlantic Canada. Tours in Canada and in Quebec followed thereafter. She then hosted 'Le Radio-café Provigo' on Radiomutuel 1986-8, 'Mes noëls en Acadie' on CBC TV in 1988, and the morning radio program for CBC Moncton in 1989. In 1990 she performed in Normandy, Brittany, and Poitou. She also was a correspondent in Charlottetown, P.E.I. for Telefilm Canada's "PassepArt." In La Presse (Montreal, 2 Dec 1978) Pierre Beaulieu summarized her art in these terms: 'Angèle Arsenault may denounce the status of women, demand freedom for everyone, or attack the consumer society, but she always does so jokingly and optimistically, to rhythmic tunes rooted in the folk and the country, and accompanied simply and effectively.'

After a long break from making recordings, Angèle Arsenault returned in 1993 with Bonjour Madame Bolduc, based on the 1992 stage play that toured in Canada and France; and in 1994 with Transparente, which includes the songs "Grand-Pré," "Papa Arthur," and the complex, ironic "Evangeline, Acadian Queen." She also resumed touring in Quebec, as well as in other parts of Canada and elsewhere. She returned in 1996 to Prince Edward Island (especially Summerside). Her awards and recognitions include the 1997 Ordre de la Pléiade from the Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians (recognizing her international importance in promoting French language and culture); an honorary membership in the Association Canadienne des Éducateurs de Langue Française; Woman of the Year from Zonta International (2000); and the Order of Canada (2003). Arsenault's recordings also include Amour, an album of songs for children (1999).

See also Évangeline; Madame Bolduc