The Great Solstice celebration will be one of the rare occasions to hear Florent Vollant sing this year. The Innu music icon traveled from Mani-utenam to record a song in Montreal, at the request of Elisapie. His journey echoes what the television show wishes to convey this year: to invite Indigenous people to shine in the city as much as elsewhere in the territory.
There was quite a commotion in mid-May at Espace La Fontaine, in the heart of the park of the same name. Dozens of people were hard at work filming a segment of the Grand solstice, a televised concert to be presented on June 21, where Florent Vollant sings a song called Nikana, with a group of six musicians and, for a rare time, his son Mathieu McKenzie.
“We didn’t often play on television together, it’s a privileged moment that I live today with him,” says Mathieu Mckenzie, about his father. “He’s my son, but he’s also a collaborator,” adds Florent Vollant. He developed a great confidence and, over time, he is the one who gives me advice, who tells me what to say sometimes. I learn from that. I need this, me. »
Between two takes, it is not the former Kashtin who gives the direction, but his son, who sings in the group Maten. “I’m able to express myself for him, I know pretty much the mood and the tone he wants to have,” he said.
Nikana, the track the duo recorded for the Great Solstice, is inhabited by a soft groove. This is carried by the seasoned musicians of the show, placed under the direction of bassist Amélie Mandeville: Ivan Boivin-Flamand (guitar), André Papanicolaou (guitar), Martin Lizotte (piano), Sheenah Ko (keyboards and choirs ) and Jérémie Essiambre (drums).
They will also accompany the other artists on the bill for the televised concert, which features, among others, Kanen, Soleil Launière, Joseph Sarenhes (with Valaire) and Elisapie herself, who acts as producer. It is also because the invitation came from the Inuk singer that Florent Vollant made the trip. “Florent and I love each other very much. I know it’s not easy to get him on a plane to sing a song for TV. It takes a lot of energy,” she said, adding that she was touched that he agreed.
Energy, the great Innu singer has less since he suffered a stroke two years ago. But he has lost neither his humor nor his charisma. “Every time Florent sings, it makes me very emotional,” says Elisapie. The Innu and the Inuit, we are still close. It’s another culture, but they are our neighbors to the south. There is something very strong between our nations. Every time I see Florent, we have giggles, but the tears are never far away. »
The Great Solstice 2023 will be different because it will emphasize urbanity, says Elisapie. All performances were filmed in Montreal, sometimes in emblematic places like the Biosphere. “Just to see Indigenous people in places where you’re not used to seeing us, in places that feel like they’re for white people, it’s doubly empowering for artists,” he says. -She.
The underlying idea is that of a kind of regaining possession of the territory and creating the feeling that, yes, Aboriginal artists also have the right to shine in the city. “Me, that’s how I feel and I think it’s also good for Kanen, Laura Niquay, Joseph Sarenhes and Florent to be here, because we created or we create here. also in this city. Montreal is a place that inspires us too. »