Robert Charlebois, Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec

9 June 2021 Robert Charlebois – Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec

Artist and musical captain of a large sea-blue Boeing, he has spent over 50 years taking us along on journeys to a world that is anything but ordinary. On this long-haul flight powered by surreal fantasy, you can make out the peak of Mont Athos, dream of Rio, and waltz under the coconut palms. You can even break the sound barrier to reach March in April, but always come back to Montréal.

He is a monument to French song, alongside Vigneault and Leclerc. He is the enfant terrible of Québec song, our homegrown pioneer of francophone rock. In a language he loves, stepping fully into his accent, with an image and hairstyle all his own, the one-of-a-kind singer-songwriter appeared at the end of the 1960s, daring to express himself as no one had done before him. His music enshrined the spirit of a generation and crystallized the state of an awakened population, the reflection of cultural and political vitality. And with his audacity, he gave our society an emancipatory push to grow and assert itself far beyond music.

Alongside his great lyricist acolytes Ducharme, Sabourin, Péloquin, and Mouffe, alongside close friends Moreau, Forestier, and Deschamps with whom he set stages on fire, Charlebois broke with convention and broke down barriers. He represents all on his own the explosion of modern song across the Francophonie, and his melodies and their timelessness soar well beyond the Atlantic.

His sentimental and psychedelic anthems, his lyrics combining humour and poetry, with his ability to perform and give voice to his lyrics, his work shows a creativity that is both liberating and endless. With just an electric guitar and words, he transformed the musical landscape and marked generations of artists cradled by his incredible repertoire, which continues to nourish and permeate our cultural heritage.

Robert Charlebois. Crédit : BAnQ, Fonds Antoine Desilets

Robert Charlebois. Credit : BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, Fonds Antoine Desilets


About the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec

The Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec is a distinction bestowed by CALQ honouring those individuals who have played a prominent role in Québec’s artistic development.

The CALQ would like to thanks its partners, the Caisse de la Culture and the newspaper Le Devoir.


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