On the stage of the National, in the usual decor enhanced with garlands and lights, Nathalie Simard warms up her voice on her classic L’amour a pris son temps. Behind, the Salebarbes band waits their turn to perform five songs which will later make the crowd dance. On this Wednesday afternoon in December, it’s already Christmas at Belle and Bum. It’s also time for the mid-season report to be handed out to Normand Brathwaite’s three new co-hosts, to whom their mentor awards a generous “A”.

A few hours before the recording of the 18th special 90-minute holiday episode Belle et Bum, which will brighten up, as tradition dictates, the evening of December 24 on Télé-Québec, Marie-Josée Gauvin, Fabiola Nyrva Aladin and Lunou Zucchini go and come into the room during rehearsals, childish smiles plastered on their faces.

In individual interviews, the words of one echo the words of the other: all three still can’t believe having been chosen to accompany Normand Brathwaite on rotation, in a now cult show (it’s the 21st season), which they have known and watched since childhood. Without having to audition. In all three cases, all it took was one call, and the matter was closed. We demanded their distinctive energy, all their own.

“It was explained to me that we wanted something younger, very natural. I would never have dared to apply for such a position, but trust me, I was super flattered,” relates Lunou Zucchini, the youngest member of the group at 28, who was recovering from a virus and struggling with a loss of voice at the time of this meeting.

Their imposter syndrome swallowed, the lucky ones measured their privilege. At 38, Marie-Josée Gauvin says she grew up watching Beau et Chaud, the summer ancestor of Belle et Bum, where a young and even crazier Normand Brathwaite was already sparking the next generation of musicians. She then rubbed shoulders with the star host at CKOI, around fifteen years ago, and today realizes a dream of vibrating with him to songs and fresh water.

“I talk about it and I still get big chills. I have fun with Normand. I feel lucky to be able to be part of this gang, which has been around for years,” says Marie-Josée.

“Belle and Bum is the beginning and sustaining of all our musical artists. It’s our way of keeping up to date, of discovering, of reliving important moments in our musical history. It’s really precious. We don’t want a world without Belle and Bum! », skull with humor Fabiola N. Aladin, 34 years old, whose media visibility has exploded in 2023, in particular thanks to her columns in I come to you, in Noovo, and in ICI Premiere.

The trio no longer counts the talents that Belle and Bum revealed to them this fall. Gauvin is enthusiastic about VioleTT Pi and ALICE (and his excerpt Until shit separates us), Aladin has a crush on Aliocha Schneider and Laura Niquay, Zucchini now listens to Aysanabee and Comment Debord.

The Bum, for his part, does not spare the flowers with regard to his Belles.

The movement of female acolytes, after the departure of Mélissa Lavergne in the spring, does not seem to have upset the audience of Belle et Bum. On the contrary: the audience of 142,000 viewers is up 27% compared to the same date last year, indicate Télé-Québec and producer Sphère Média.

After 21 years of playing his instruments – he has never missed a single meeting, not even a rehearsal, he maintains – Normand Brathwaite says he is ready to continue the adventure, at least for one more year. “I live here,” he jokes about the National.

Of the holiday version of Belle and Bum, he says he is happy with the always electric atmosphere. This year, in addition to Nathalie Simard and Salebarbes, Chef Oli, Mateo, Krystel Mongeau (winner of Star Académie 2022) and Innu soprano Elisabeth St-Gelais will celebrate for the occasion. We also announce a tribute to Karl Tremblay, on one of the most festive and luminous pieces in the Cowboys Fringants repertoire.

“It’s really a party. We only make music. No comedy, no sketches, no wigs. That’s the Bye bye that does it. No surprises to the guests, this is the country of France Beaudoin. Just music! », Proudly insists Normand Brathwaite.