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Quebec singer-songwriter Jean-Pierre Ferland dies of natural causes at 89

Ferland best known for song “une chance qu’on s’a”
Quebec singer-songwriter Jean-Pierre Ferland died Saturday at the age of 89. Ferland poses during the launch of his new album “Chansons jalouses,” in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Jean-Pierre Ferland, the singer-songwriter who became a fixture of Quebec’s cultural landscape over a career that spanned more than six decades, died Saturday at the age of 89.

The agency representing Ferland confirmed the singer, who’s signature song “une chance qu’on s’a” is regarded as a classic of Quebec music, died of natural causes after being hospitalized earlier this year.

Born in Montreal on June 24, 1934, Ferland was a prolific artist who produced some 30 albums, including the culturally significant “Jaune,” which sold some 60,000 copies in a year after its release in 1970.

He was named an officer of the Order of Canada and a knight of the National Order of Quebec, and was inducted into Canada’s Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.

Ferland held a concert at Montreal’s Bell Centre in 2007 to officially mark his retirement after a more than four-decade-long career, but continued to perform and record up until 2021.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, writing on X, described Ferland as a “giant” of francophone music.

“He wrote and sang songs that will be a part of Quebec culture forever,” Trudeau wrote. “He will be dearly missed.”

Quebec Premier François Legault described Ferland as a “great builder of Quebec-French song,” adding that he’d listened to “Jaune” on repeat.

Legault said Sunday that the government will hold a state funeral for Ferland, if the singer’s family accepts.

Canadian singer Roch Voisine paid tribute to an artist he described as “incomparable.”

“His album ‘Jaune’ changed everything,” Voisine said. “And all the songs that followed. Rest in peace, Mr. Ferland.”

While he originally worked as an accountant, Ferland became a fixture on the province’s cultural scene a few years after he recorded his first songs in 1958.

He started making a name for himself in both Quebec and internationally in the 1960s before the release of “Jaune” in 1970.

Ferland took his first steps into television and movies in the 1970s, and would become an actor, scriptwriter and host for several productions.

While a 2006 stroke prompted his official retirement, he continued to perform and record, and it didn’t ultimately halt his output. Notable performances included at a 2008 concert on Quebec City’s Plains of Abraham to celebrate the city’s 400th anniversary with fellow Quebec stars including Céline Dion and Ginette Reno. He also released a number of new albums, including “Bijoux de famille” in 2009 and the live album “Les Noces d’or de jaune” in 2011.

“I left this profession, I stopped, I did a farewell show. But it didn’t last long,” he told Radio-Canada in 2021.

“I was ashamed, but I came back, and as quickly as possible. It’s the most beautiful job in the world.”

Ferland is survived by his partner and his two children, as well as four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press