Lavallée like many musicians, found he needed to go to the United States to work to be able to make a living at music. He married a young lady from a French community in Massachusetts. He even fought in the American Civil War. There are a number of streets named after Lavallée in Quebec which of course didn't happen in his lifetime. He wrote one of our most important songs but never got recognition here at home.
Bobby Curtola was one of the first Canadian music talents to make a concerted effort to be a Canadian star. In 1960, he made the very first coast to coast tour of Canada by any artist.
In 1964, I was in high school in Chatham, Ontario. One day we were called down the the gym-atorium (remember those?) and treated to an impromptu concert by this young man who sang like a dream. Little did I know how important this young Bobby Curtola would become in the world of rock music. I do remember that that day was sponsored by Coke. That in itself was amazing as we couldn't even have advertising on the maps in our classrooms. In researching this post, I found that Bobby Curtola was the first pop singer to record a jingle that sounded like a hit song. Check it out in this You Tube video of the Coke commercial.
I can't hear Fortune Teller without remembering that day. That was my first brush with someone famous and someone from Canada. He has always had a special place in my heart because he was proud of being a Canadian and was determined to make his mark by keeping that as his mission.
Now, we can make a huge list of very popular and famous Canadian musicians. Justin Bieber is the current rock star and I hope he and others realize that the way was paved by people like Bobby Curtola who made it his mission to stay in Canada for the most part.
Curtola has received the Order of Canada and more than deserves it for his great work. He is still performing today. What a great role model he is for our Canadian musicians.
We can help our Canadian talent in all genres if we go out of our way to support them. Somehow, many Canadians feel that artists of every stripe must get a reputation outside of Canada before they are accepted here at home. It is not as evident perhaps as in the past but it is still there. Look for Canadians working to make a mark, and make it your mission to help them to be accepted and beloved here at home first.
Who is your favourite Canadian artist?