For the Love of Music
There’s a smile in Florent Vollant’s voice, that of kindness and wisdom. As soon as we bring up music, the Innu singer-songwriter gets carried away!
« I’ve been on the road for 40 years now, sharing my traditional music and talking about my origins. I love to meet people. Music creates opportunities to do so. I take advantage of it, » explains the celebrated artist who’s been touring Québec with his latest opus Puamuna.
Canada’s 150th and Montreal’s 375th are keeping him very busy as he is asked to represent the indigenous community « which celebrates its 5000th anniversary! » adds he jokingly. After Québec, he will take his guitar to Winnipeg, then Yellowknife, Louisiana and even Groenland.
He sings in French, English, Innu in front of small audiences. Yet he can never do so without performing some classics from Kashtin, his successful group from the 80’s and 90’s. « I’ve tried giving shows without any Kashtin songs. Not a good idea! People are expecting them. It’s part of my DNA. And I am blessed with a public who listens so carefully. »
Far from resting on his past success, Vollant works hard on his next project, a totally unplugged album inspired by bluegrass. « I feel a sense of urgency, I can’t go back, my passion for music is a part of me. And I haven’t written the song I really want yet. You know, the song that will heal the planet, soothe the soul, » he declares.
Throughout his career, the musician has fought for his culture to be acknowledged. He was at the helm of Clé du studio on APTN, a tv show that gave a tribune to young artists. A second season is in the works.
When we mention the relatively new interest of certain medias for the indigenous reality, he tells you straight: « It was about time! The Oka crisis moved us back 30 years, affirms Vollant. We need to mend our relationship, build bridges. All over North America, people are scared of the First Nations. It’s difficult to transmit our culture and our history. »
He considers that the cultural world has lost many good artists for a lack of places to perform, and that angers him. « We ask artists to educate the public. I’ve done it so much I’m about to charge the Ministère de l’Éducation » he exclaims with irony. « Young people are very interested in learning more about the Micmacs, the Cris… This form of education must be supported. »
No matter how much he travels, Florent Vollant always returns to Maliotenam, the reservation set near Sept-Île. He cannot imagine himself leaving this piece of land. Vollant admits he is part of that clan, part of that land which he loves wholeheartedly. We’re lucky to have him in NDG, bringing his music and his poetry.
Florent Vollant performs at Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce February 2 at 8pm. Get your tickets for only $2 at www.accesculture.com.
(Photos: Courtesy/TC Média)