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By Julijana Capone

A lifetime of musical training and a whole lot of perseverance is finally paying off for Francophone songstress Marie-Josée Clément (aka marijosée).

Last year, the 32-year-old singer/songwriter released her debut effort, Rebondir (meaning bounce back in English), a five-song EP of francophone pop bliss shaped around Clément’s soaring vocals and love for all things percussion and jazz. The album was recently nominated for a Western Canada Music Award (WCMA) for Francophone Recording of the Year.

“I’m so pumped. I didn’t expect that my five-song EP could make the nomination list, but I’ll take it,” says Clément. “It is very cool and definitely motivating.”

A former member of the all-girl percussion group, Insisto, Clément left the troupe in 2010 to focus on her solo work. The word, “rebondir,” became a mantra for the singer, who used the album as a reason to kick start her music career before she turned 30.

“I had a full-time job, and some people thought I wasn’t doing music anymore,” she says. “I wanted to convince myself and others that I’m always going to sing no matter what.”

The formally trained singer and multi-instrumentalist, who has additional training in African-style percussion under the tutelage of Richard Fontaine (Hand Drum Rhythms), says she was able to take bits and pieces of her eclectic musical taste and bring it out in her album.

The EP, which was co-written by Haitian poet Bathélemy Bolivar, took over two years to write and another year to record. Well-respected engineer Carlin Lemon, produced, recorded and engineered the album. He, too, is nominated for a WCMA for Engineer of the Year.

Indeed, the album was a long time in the making -- 32 years for that matter -- but Clément says she is incredibly proud of the product.

“For 14 years I was depending on word of mouth, so I was so happy to finally have something to put in the hands of the industry,” she says. ”I was so happy to share it with everyone.”

Clément quit her day job as a teacher last year to pursue music full-time; hoping for the best but having no idea what the outcome would be.

“I had applied for all of these showcases, but I still had to wait for all of the answers,” she says. “I kind of just took a leap of faith.”

That leap of faith has proven worth the risk. In the past year, she has performed at seven showcases throughout Canada, which have helped her gain a fair amount of buzz beyond the perimeter.

She plays a number of Francophone festivals throughout June, in July she’ll embark on her first tour through Quebec, and she hopes to tap into the international market in the fall with an upcoming showcase in France.

Clément says she is thankful for the support she has received from Musicaction, Manitoba Music, and Manitoba Film & Music for making those shows happen.

While the industry can certainly be intimidating to navigate solo, Clément says that she has a great support network to help her when she needs it.

“I don’t have a manager or an agent, so I’ve had to call up a lot of people,” she says.

Among those people are her consultants, Le 100 NONS, Nathalie Kleinschmit, Geneviève Clément and Michel Durand, who manages a handful of Francophone acts, including Daniel ROA, the Justin Lacroix Band, Johnny Cajun, and KIN.

“I’m still learning all of the business side of the industry. I don’t think I’ll ever figure all of it out. But I love all of it,” she says.

Originally published in Manitoba Music’s newsletter vol. 21.2

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