Ottawa might lack an official municipal designation, but the bilingual character of our city already permeates our daily life. The announcements on our busses, the voices in our elevators, the conversations in coffee shops that slip in and out of a franglais that’s entirely our own—these are all things that many of us in the capital almost take for granted.
At the same time, when it comes to celebrating our bilingualism the local music community has been a bit slower to catch up. Ottawa benefits from incredible French and English language music scenes, serving as a major hub for the Franco-Ontarian music community while increasingly establishing itself as a Canadian music hub full-stop. Until recently, however, collaboration and cross-exposure has been rather limited.
As discussed by the panel at our November Music Monday event on bridging this divide, the cultural dominance of English has had the unintended consequence of leaving quite a few anglo folks anxious about attending events in French (thus missing out on a whole scene) while francophone artists struggle to grow their audiences.
While there is still a long way to go, we are starting to see the walls fall down a bit thanks in no small part to grassroots efforts and the growing popularity of bilingual acts such as Moonfruits and Scattered Clouds (the latter straddling the Ottawa-Gatineau divide as well).
There’s the HautesVibrations series of nights put on by prominent franco-Ontarian hip-hop artist FLO (full name le FLO franco). Taking place in venues that are well-known and well-loved within the city’s anglo scenes such as Bar Robo and The Rainbow Bistro, FLO and his crew have been particularly great about making sure the nights friendly for newcomers looking to dip their toe in the city’s French-language scene. This month’s edition even includes King Kimbit, a key figure within the city’s anglo hip-hop and spoken word scenes.
For artists and promoters, the next logical step is increasing the number of bills that are shared between anglophone and francophone artists. Shared bills is a true win-win-win scenario. Music fans get introduced to awesome new music, bands play to new audiences, and venues are fuller. The music community as a whole also wins—by becoming more inclusive and representative of the local culture of our shared home.
— Check more from the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition from here: ottawamic.com