From February 2 through 9, in wind and ice (man, was it cold!), the 6th Festival Voix d’Amériques (FVA) heated up the box office at La Tulipe and dried up the bars at the Sala Rossa and the Casa del Popolo!
2007 marks an important turning point in the Festival’s history. Thanks to a wealth of wonderful programming and the unbelievable generosity of our Guest of Honour, Richard Desjardins, the support for this year’s FVA was the best it has ever had. Besides Desjardins’ Richard Guétare at La Tulipe — an instant sell-out that went immediately to a second show — many other shows were completely full before the FVA even started.
The classics, just the way we like them!
For the third year in a row, the Combat contre la langue de bois was a huge hit! The Sala Rossa, crowded to the rafters, saw Stéphane Crête, Micheline Lanctôt, Robert Morin, Monique Giroux and six other word-boxers slip on the gloves and go at it for the FVA. There were some impressive right hands and they KO’d their topic every time. But we also want to point out that the artists, busy defeating clichés and shredding the old worn-out tapes, also brought enormous honesty to the fight. They were 100 percent there — in the way they spoke to their topic but also in the way they revealed themselves. And for that, we say, Thank You.
Body and Soul 4 closed the Festival with a gust of impertinent youth. Girls took over the stage with a show that was just slightly off the rails and oh! so very refreshing! The always surprising Moquettes Coquettes kept the stakes high, with a show full of humour and intelligence, and welcomed guest artists that included the intensely audience-pleasing Giselle Numba One.
The risk paid off
The FVA’s solid artistic direction paid off higher than ever this year, with bold programming that celebrated well known artists and introduced some new voices too. On the mainstage, Richard Desjardins followed the explosive (and incisive!) band Gatineau. Frank Martel tossed out country rhythms and madness to a curious crowd, Martin Tétreault hypnotized the room with electro-sounds and the voice of a poet, and Bernard Falaise showed up as a singer — to the absolute delight of new music lovers. Then there was the delicious Hallahou!, presented by the publishing house Le Quartanier, and in English, Voices from Planet Toronto, featuring the wry intelligence of Jill Battson, the political fugues of Robert Priest, the nonsense of beloved bill bissett, and the committed voices of young urban poets including Spin and rap diva Naila Keleta Mae, all hosted by the generous Andrea Thompson.
There was some serious risk-taking at the Casa too, with 5à7 shows that really took off this year. The incredible Emmanuelle Orange and her group Eden106 were one of the real discoveries in this year’s lineup. And there were many more at the Night Shifts hosted by Tony Tremblay, where close to a hundred brave souls grabbed the open mic to perform their own stuff in our multilingual poetry cabarets.
In short, everything seemed to fall into place for the 6th FVA. The kinds of poetry and text performance we celebrate have never been more popular. The FVA stays true to itself, giving us all the sounds of strong, authentic voices, and next year, we’ll be back stronger than ever, with the 7th FVA, February 1 to 8, 2008. And neither sleet nor snow will stop us!!