Artists Geneviève Letarte

Based in Montréal, Geneviève Letarte is an artist with a unique approach that leads her from literature to singing and back.

Letarte is the author of four novels, including Souvent la nuit tu te réveilles (l’Hexagone, 2002) and Les Vertiges Molino (Leméac, 1996), and a collection of poetry, Tout bas très fort (Écrits des Forges, 2004). She has also recorded two albums of songs, Chansons d’un jour (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2000) and Vous seriez un ange (Ambiances Magnétiques, 1990), and created several shows relying on text, song and music, such as Le Mystère du bois Blanc (Théâtre La Chapelle, Montréal, 2000) and Y a des jours comme ça (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 1996).

As a member of the poetry and music collective Le Band de poètes, she has made several tours and recorded one album, Le Band de Poètes (Monsieur Fauteux m’entendez-vous, 2005).

Since 1999, she has been on the editorial committee of the essay and creation magazine L’Inconvénient (Montréal), in which she regularly publishes texts and English-French translations. Recently, she co-authored the presentation and translation of a collection of previously unreleased essays by Virginia Wolf, Une prose passionnée et autres essais (Boréal, 2005).

Letarte has been featured in various international events, including the Festival de poésie Wallonie-Bruxelles (Namur, Belgium, 2006), Festival international de poésie de Trois-Rivières (2005, 1997, 1995), Festival Métropolis Bleu (Montréal, 2005, 2001, 2000), Festival Voix d’Amériques (Montréal, 2005, 2003), Voilà Québec en Mexico! (Guadalajara, Mexico, 2003), Festival Parole ambulante (Lyon, France, 2003), Festival International de la littérature (Montréal, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997), Women In View (Vancouver, 2001), Les Cartier de la poésie (Lyon, France, 1999), Festival acadien de poésie (Caraquet, New Brunswick, 1999), Festival interculturel La Romeria De Mayo (Holguin, Cuba, 1999), Festival International de musique actuelle (Victoriaville, 1990), and Les Rencontres internationales de poésie contemporaine (Cogolin, France, 1986).

Letarte has been artist in residence at the Leighton Colony (Banff, Alberta, 2006), Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, New York, 1999), Studio du Québec à Paris (Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, 1996) and Banff Centre (Alberta, 1992). She was also on numerous artist grant panels in Québec and Canada.

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Geneviève Letarte

Outremont (Québec)

Residence: Montréal (Québec)

  • Composer
  • Performer (voice, keyboard)
  • Author
Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Christopher Cauley, 2006]
Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Christopher Cauley, 2006]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Christopher Cauley, 2006]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Raymonde April, 2000]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Raymonde April]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Louise Oligny]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Raymonde April]
  • Geneviève Letarte [Photo: Raymonde April]

In the press

  • François Couture, AllMusic, June 15, 2002
    Her musical career is only one of many facets she has integrated to her art.

Portrait: Geneviève Letarte

François Couture, AllMusic, June 15, 2002

Geneviève Letarte is an artist before being a singer. Her musical career is only one of many facets she has integrated to her art. A poet, novelist, lyricist, and performance artist, she is loosely associated with the Montréal avant-garde music collective Ambiances Magnétiques, but also with the poetry/spoken word scene (both francophone and anglophone). Her albums are few and far between.

Letarte was born in Quebec City in 1955. At age 20 she went to Paris to study literature and cinema for two years — at the time an obligatory sojourn for Quebecer intellectuals. She had already started to write for various literary magazines (her name would appear in La Vie en Rose, La Nouvelle Barre du Jour, Estuaire, Moebius, and the New York magazine Bomb, among others). She launched her professional career in 1982 with her first interdisciplinary performance “Transit Station” (also the title of her firstbook). The next year she presented “Sirène Serpent Zoulou,” a show of music and poetry with Serge Boisvert. From there she developed a growing interest in music. She briefly collaborated with the all-female group Wondeur Brass with which she shared a feminist philosophy, but her first musical break came in 1987 when Ambiances Magnétiques member René Lussier invited her for a guest appearance at his duo concert with guitarist Fred Frith at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. Lussier and drummer Michel F Côté (also of AM) helped her write, arrange, and produce her first album Vous seriez un ange (“You’d be an angel”), released in 1990 on the collective’s label.

During the next decade Letarte juggled writing, songwriting and performance art. She wrote the lyrics to La légende de la pluie, a 1992 performance and album by Justine, Tenko, and Zeena Parkins. She appeared at the Victo festival (1990), the Vancouver Jazz Festival (1995), and a number of poetry events in America and Europe. 2000 saw her focus again on music, first with a word/sound performance with electroacoustic artist Chantal Dumas, then with a new CD, Chansons d’un jour, co-written with guitarist Claude Fradette (of Les 4 Guitaristes de l’Apocalypso-Bar).

Her musical career is only one of many facets she has integrated to her art.

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