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Jumpstreet Tours’ Summer Guide to French Music

Posted by Michael Johnson on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 @ 02:05 PM



“If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.” We’re fond of this timeless Zimbabwean proverb because we’ve spent almost thirty years developing student tours that focus on language learning and culture, and music has always played a part in keeping our class trips as entertaining as they are enriching. From the Quebecois sugar shack standards like ‘Agadou’ and ‘Talon Pointe,’ to the sumptuous salsa ensembles that breathe life into our Latin dance workshops in New York City and Montreal, music runs through our student travel programs like an epic conga line.

Jumpstreet Tours got its start in Montreal, a city whose diversity is matched only by its penchant for celebration. Our festival calendar attracts a broad range of performers from around the world, particularly from French-speaking countries. Quebec, meanwhile, also has a knack for producing its own rising stars.

Our music guide will help you add some French flavour to your summer soundtrack. You might know them already, or you might come away with a new favourite artist.


This eccentric Belgian hip hop artist topped charts a few years ago with ‘Alors on danse’, a smash hit that filled dance floors and earned a remix featuring none other than Kanye West. Last year’s single, ‘Papaoutai’, has almost 200 million views on YouTube and counting. With a strong message and an absurdly catchy beat, it’s tough not to love this song. Already a bonafide superstar in Francophone corners of the world (he headlined Les Francofolies de Montreal just this week), his recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers means Stromae is turning heads everywhere he goes.

Karim Ouellet

Born in Dakar, adopted by Canadian diplomats, roots planted in France, Rwanda, Tunisia, and Quebec City … it’s no wonder singer-songwriter Karim Ouellet has a story to tell. Ouellet is already a huge star in Quebec, making regular headline appearances at local festivals and cleaning up at the 2013 Félix Awards, the Province’s equivalent of the Grammys. He's also making a name for himself in the US, having performed at last year's SXSW festival. His brand of folk-pop is a fresh take on international sounds mixed with French-Canadian songwriting styles.

Coeur de pirate

There’s a chanson renaissance going on amongst Francophone female vocalists, one that invokes the spirit of legendary balladeers like Édith Piaf: melancholic, slightly unhinged, and irresistibly charming. Québec’s Coeur de pirate is a great example of this. The French Canadian singer-songwriter first made a splash in 2008 with ‘Ensemble’, a single that became so popular she made the rounds on shows like Good Morning America and sites like Perez Hilton. Today, Coeur de pirate is a diamond-certified recording artist with millions of followers. Her upcoming Anglophone album, Trauma, is sure to be another hit.

Tire le coyote

Little-known fact: Quebec loves country music. It makes sense – the Province is largely rural, has a thriving cattle industry, and a serious penchant for line dancing. So it comes as no surprise that you don’t have to look far to find quality French Canadian country music. Tire le coyote is an emerging talent with a modern take on Appalachian folk and bluegrass, two staple sounds from the country music genre. His arrangements will remind you of Lady Antebellum and Neil Young; his vocals are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Lyle Lovett. Great music for weekend road trips to the cottage.

Topics: culture, French, Art