The disappearance of comedian Michel Côté hovered over the unveiling of the National Day program in Montreal on Monday. Many, including the Minister of Culture and Communications, Mathieu Lacombe, paid tribute to him, and promised that the show in which Marjo, Isabelle Boulay, Garou, FouKi and Mélissa Bédard will participate will also celebrate his memory.

Ignoring the actor’s death was “unthinkable” for Léane Labrèche-Dor, spokesperson for National Day 2023 and host of the program unveiling held Monday morning at Club Soda. She also began her presentation by evoking the disappearance of this actor whom she says she loved very much, assuming that there were also many people in the room who shared her feelings.

“We are here to talk about the national holiday and we wonder what a nation is. It is all the people who participate in creating it, this nation, in making it shine, in making it grow. Michel Côté was one of the great people we had in the cultural field. I want to say a grown-up, period. He was a generous, sensitive, funny human, she says. We are going to celebrate Quebec, the national holiday, and I think that this year, we are going to tip our hat to Michel Côté. »

Louise Harel, president of the National Day Committee in Montreal, later called the actor “a giant of the cultural scene”. “We were lucky to know him as a spokesperson in 2018,” she said. He had, as you know, Quebec tattooed on his heart. The Minister of Culture and Communications also highlighted the actor’s exceptional career. “We’re going to love each other and we’re going to dance thinking a little bit about him at Maisonneuve Park,” added director Pierre Séguin.

At Maisonneuve Park? Yes, because after having been presented at the Place des Festivals almost every year since 2014, the June 24 show will return to where it has often been the event, that is to say near the Olympic Stadium. The population is in fact invited to gather along boulevard Saint-Joseph to attend the traditional parade bringing together hundreds of artists and extras which will begin near rue Molson and will go – as we can guess – to the site of the big show.

Who will be on stage for the big night? Marjo, Garou, Isabelle Boulay, FouKi, Mélissa Bédard, Souldia, Lydia Képinski, P’tit Belliveau, Justin Boulet and Innu singer-songwriter Scott-Pien Picard. The concert will again be hosted by Pierre-Yves Lord and musical direction has been entrusted to pianist Julie Lamontagne and drummer Tony Albino.

This is not the first time that Marjo and Isabelle Boulay have shared the stage during a major event of its kind. “We met the queen together,” laughs Isabelle Boulay, after her eldest recalled that they were both at a concert presented on July 1, in Ottawa, in 2010. The two singers say besides love big events. “I find it galvanizing. And you can’t not be present when you sing on a big stage,” said Isabelle Boulay. “It’s demanding, because there are more people to fill, believes Marjo, but it gives more [in return] too. »

What do they want to celebrate in 2023? The French language first, in the case of the rocker. “Quebec has changed, literally,” says Marjo, who believes that artists are there to help create a taste for living in French. There is a good step, but I think that’s where we’re going. »

Isabelle Boulay, she wants to highlight Quebec as a land of welcome. “We have always let other cultures enrich our own. We are very hospitable in our way of being, of receiving, of being there for each other, and I hope that is something that will remain in our identity,” she said.

Can we expect to see them pushing the bill together? Marjo said she would like to sing Le saule, by Isabelle Boulay. “I would sing anything with Marjo!” she replied. We are still working on the repertoire, but yes, it is certain that at some point we will be together. »