Geneviève Labbé - French Singer/Songwriter from Quebec
Annick: Bonjour Geneviève!
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. I can’t wait to hear more about your music and projects. Let’s get started.
Geneviève Labbé: Thanks for taking me out for a virtual hot chocolate! (I don’t drink coffee).
Annick Elziere: Geneviève, you are a great songwriter and singer and a terrific one because your lyrics are sending some strong messages about the children. I love your music because they are not only positive but refreshing and uplifting. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Geneviève Labbé: You’re starting with a big, big question ! What can I say... Love. Yes, love for life, love for children, and a deep sense of gratitude for the Creator. Love for music, that amazing language of the soul that humanity has been given to share. Love for the musical diversity to be explored as well.
Annick Elziere: It sounds ‘formidable’. Are you bilingual or do you sing only in French?
Geneviève Labbé: For the moment, my songs are mostly in French because I live in a French-speaking environment. I love singing in different languages; Asia, Africa, South-America and North-America’s First Nations. I’m also hoping to produce an English version of Sous un même soleil,(Under the same Sun??) Many people have asked for it, it’s all a matter of time and money!
When children hear songs from around the world, I’m sure it contributes to building a sense of world citizenship in their young hearts. For me, wanting to contribute to a better world is an impulse from the heart and I believe music can nurture that.
Annick Elziere: Children must be attracted to your songs and your energy. I bet they love you just as much as you love them. Do you perform mostly in schools or do you also Tour and do concerts?
Geneviève Labbé: So far, I have mostly been performing in concerts. I’ve done a few schools and daycare shows, and I’m working this year towards offering concerts followed by workshops in schools.
Annick Elziere: You are a French Canadian born in Quebec. Am I correct? And, you’re also a world traveler. I believe that from a very young age you lived or visited the beautiful county of Sénégal. What took you there?
Geneviève Labbé: Yes, born in Québec city. It was a one month study trip on sustainable development to Sénégal, a wonderful learning experience. That’s where I fell in love with African rhythms; music is everywhere when you are in Africa.
Annick Elziere: That’s really cool. I love traveling but not only you went to Sénégal but also to Vietnam, India and Australia. Please tell us more. Have you always had the wanderlust to travel or is it because of your music that you are always on the go meeting different people from around the world?
Geneviève Labbé: Yes,I love to immerse myself in other cultures. So I’m not a world-traveler in a touristy way, I prefer to stay in a place and get to know its people. I lived two years in Vietnam, one year in India and 6 years in Australia. Living for a while in a community and getting to know local musicians gives you a deep appreciation for their music and culture. It is that grassroots connection that has inspired me, and which I try to pass on to children in my music.
I was always on the go until I became a mummy! I’ve been raising three children in the last nine years and have produced two shows. No time for hopping on a plane or a bus yet! But I am preparing to tour a bit with the shows as my children are becoming involved as well.
Annick Elziere: Have you always performed for children and when did you know that you enjoyed working with children? Did you program it this way or did it just happen by itself?
Geneviève Labbé: It just happened. I have never looked at children as a target audience, they are people like you and I. But they are at a stage of their lives that I still feel very connected to; years of wonderment, dreams and exploration. I sang in many different contexts before with bands, developing my own poetry and singing since I was about 17 years old.
I had many magical moments in my life, and some of the most magical ones were with children -Singing with children in villages in Sénégal, working with kids in an orphanage in Vietnam, playing soccer with my young aboriginal neighbors in Australia, being a volunteer teacher for Baha’i classes in a public school in Australia. I have always found communication with children very inspiring. I've also met many vulnerable children and I've always felt a strong impulse to reach out and try to help them.
When I returned to Québec after about eight years of living overseas, I had just become a mother and my heart was so filled with gratitude. I wanted to give something back to life, and I felt that connection to children even stronger.
Annick Elziere: My grandmother used to say to all of us "Les voyages forment la jeunesse." How essential or critical it is to you to wish to spend your time uplifting the children and teach them the truth and how love they are?
Geneviève Labbé: I love children because they are filled with light, and they are hungry for beauty, meaning and love. Of course they love entertainment, so if I can mingle music and education on stage, it’s great fun for everyone!
Annick Elziere: Yes, children are so important in our lives, in my opinion. Do you perform on your own or share the stage with other musicians? I’m just thinking that when being with the children the energy is totally different but I could be wrong.
Geneviève Labbé: I find the teamwork and the synergy of improvisation just too much fun to work on my own. I have two different shows. Sous un même soleil (Under the same sun), has songs that talk about friendship, valuing cultural differences, honesty, world peace, etc. This production is aimed at children aged 4 to 12. For this show I work with two multi-instrumentalists, a dancer and a small choir of children.
Yesterday I had the 'première' of my new production, called Vox-planète (Voice of the Planet).
This show talks about environmental issues and is aimed at children aged 8 to 14 years old. I work with a percussionist, a guitarist and a multi-instrumentalist. We’ve built instruments from recycled materials and created songs that we enjoy performing together.
Annick Elziere: We can all see how much your are enjoying making a difference in the life of children. Are you able to follow your own music agenda and schedule or do you have to submit yourself to what others want from you?
Geneviève Labbé: My personal agenda is to do my best at what I feel is now the time for me to do! My audience (children, parents and teachers) constantly gives me so much positive feedback and I feel so blessed to be welcomed into their hearts. To me that’s an indication to keep going in that direction. I love to maintain balance and meet new challenges in my musical life. So I also work as a singer in other contexts where I can sing jazz songs, Latin music and some of my own compositions that are more suitable for older audiences.
Annick Elziere: I admire your energy and desire to do so much to bring change on this planet. I noticed that very often the children are invited to share the stage with you. Is that because you enjoy their company or is it because you want them to learn how to be more present or involved in your music?
Geneviève Labbé: Both! To be honest, having children on stage is a lot more work but it’s all worth it. For my new production, there are two young artists involved, a 13 year old singer and a 9 year old percussionist.
Annick Elziere: I love it when children are involved with you. It’s very powerful. It was lovely speaking with you. Thank you so much for your generous time and all your hard-work, Geneviève. We are looking forward to many more concerts, for sure.
Geneviève Labbé: Merci à toi et à la prochaine!
Annick Elziere: Merci beaucoup. A bientôt!
Youtube Channel: youtu.be/8v1fNWkF7uY
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