October 30, 2008
Born into her destiny
Franco-American performer Lucie Therrien bridges two worlds
By Dana Unger firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucie Therrien wears more hats than she can count: recording and video/DVD artist, composer, songwriter, historian, teacher, filmmaker, linguist, poet and author.
“I’m a creative person,” she said. “As soon as I try something, I have the urge to try something new — something different. I just go for it.”
In celebration of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary and coinciding with the release of her new book and CD set, Dual Citizen -Deux Deux Citoyennetés, Therrien will perform on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m., at the Concord City Auditorium. The performance is part of the 2008-2009 Walker Lecture Series.
Therrien is a native of Newport, Vt., and was educated in French schools in Quebec. Her books, music and videos celebrate the diversity of French-Canadian culture, which she sees as of vital importance not only to herself but to the Granite State in general.
“For me, it’s a part of my soul,” she said. “For New Hampshire — I mean, we’re neighbors. We couldn’t be any closer. There are so many people I’ve bumped into here who haven’t been to Quebec, who haven’t been to Europe. They are not going to get any closer to Europe than Quebec. In many ways, we know each other well, but we should know each other a lot better. There’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship between these two places.”
Over the years, the multi-talented performer has amassed an impressive résumé. She has worked with foreign consulates, government agencies, Parliament conventions and conferences, and has appeared on PBS and National Public Radio, the Good Day Show in Boston, Canadian television and radio, as well as at countless universities, schools and festivals.
Therrien has participated in cultural exchanges all over the world, meriting her a 2004 appointment to the American and Canadian French Cultural Exchange Commission of the New Hampshire government. Her travels have afforded Therrien the opportunity to discover just how far-reaching French culture really is.
“I’m a different person when I go to France,” Therrien said. “When I perform there, it’s the only time I can completely channel my French-Quebec music — they love it there. They think it’s terribly exotic. I’ve played Marti Gras festivals in Martinique, done an exchange in North Africa, where they speak some French, and even in Vietnam there is quite a bit of historical French influence — many still speak the language there.”
In addition to international exchanges, Therrien holds a B.A. in Piano Performance and an M.A. in Music History, and has received two New Hampshire Council of the Arts Fellowship Finalist Awards and four Traditional Arts Awards. She is also a nationally certified music teacher and maintains Studio Do-Ré-Mi in Portsmouth. Pursuing a career in French-Canadian music made sense to her.
“It’s my roots,” Therrien said. “My father was a fiddler and I was brought up on French and American hit parade radio. Because I was born as a dual citizen, I think I was born into my destiny. My family lived in Canada, but I was an emergency birth in Vermont — I like to say that there began my destiny.”
Though she embraces her dual citizenship, she also admits that it can be tough experiencing the internal pull of two homelands.
“I’m torn,” Therrien said. “It’s yin and yang all the time. When I drive up to Montreal and see the landscape, it’s just pure euphoria. Then when I come back to the States, the French music disappears from the radio stations and I become American again. There’s always this feeling in the bottom of my heart as to whether I’m going to go back.”
Her new book and CD Dual Citizen explores those two sides of her, organized into three distinct parts — personal memoirs, French-Canadian traditions, and songs and poems.
“The book talks about my life in Quebec, my transition to the U.S., as well as the history and story of Quebec,” Therrien said. “Its traditional dances, musical instruments, recipes. It’s all written in poetry and prose — it’s really the way I write best, since I tend to think in rhythms.”
Therrien admits that she is surprised by how far she has been able to take her creative endeavors.
“Writing a book is something I never imagined doing,” she said. “It’s only been about two years that I started taking writing classes. It’s almost like the curtain will never close for me. If my voice ever fails me, I can keep going on as a poet and author. There’s always another door that will open to me — another wave that will carry me.”
Lucie Therrien. Courtesy photo.
When: Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Concord City Auditorium, 39 Green St., Concord.