Singers and often accomplices on stage, Annie Blanchard and Laurence Jalbert are also close friends. This spring, they will both join Paul Daraîche on the Contre winds et tides tour, a show that will pay tribute to the late Queen of the country, Renée Martel. For La Semaine, Annie wanted to pay tribute to the one she describes as an angel on the way.
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Annie, was it difficult for you to point out someone who has been a true angel in your path?
When you invited me to participate in this column, I didn’t even have to ask myself that question. I immediately thought of my friend Laurence Jalbert.
Is she a great accomplice in your eyes?
Yes, but she is much more than that. We met in a professional context and I remember how much of an impression she made on me. Laurence has an incredible charisma; what she radiates is beautiful. In 2010, while I was working on my second album, Walk North,,I wanted to record a duo, because I’m a real gang girl. (laughs) My team suggested bringing a girl. I immediately thought of Laurence, but I was afraid to dream too big, she impressed me so much. To my surprise, and without even knowing the number she would join me on, Laurence immediately accepted my offer. I was scared to death!
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Was there a click between you from the start?
Yes, it was hard! (laughs) We met in the studio and I was intimidated because I wanted to wear it. Laurence took me in her arms and said, “Annie, you’ve invited me to participate in your beautiful project, so I’ll take my vote and put it on yours.” She took me under her wing, I had every confidence in her. We had a magical moment in the studio. It was not only one of the best moments of my career, but also the starting point of a great friendship that unites us to this day. I get shivers just thinking about it.
What a beautiful moment you had!
Yes, next to the music video that came out! We were in an old convertible. It was November and we were very cold. But during this shoot our friendship was born. (laughs) We laughed all the time. This day will remain unforgettable. We never let go. It’s been 12 years and since then I couldn’t imagine my life without Laurence.
So your relationship goes way beyond a professional complicity.
All the way. We’ve been through everything together, the good and the bad. Laurence is always there for me. In more difficult times she is always by my side and even makes her fish soup to comfort me when I am not spinning. (laughs) My dog, Moka, was 18 when she died, and it was Laurence I called while crying to the vet. She picked me up with a teaspoon. I, in turn, have been there for her at the defining moments of her life. Laurence is like a sister to me. She brings a smile and a good mood to my life. Laurence often took me out of my comfort zone to help me move forward. I learned a lot from her. Laurence is my family and when I am with her I feel at home.
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Last year, she had the courage to denounce the abusive relationship she had with her husband for several years. Have you accompanied her in this ordeal?
Yes, and I’m so proud of her, of what she’s accomplished. I was there for her and I accompanied her until the day she finally freed herself from this nightmare. I admire his great strength, his authenticity, his beautiful sensitivity and his extraordinary humor. Laurence is always there for others, she has boundless generosity. My Laurence is an amazing gift of life, she is an exceptional woman and I love her very much!
Laurence is a real source of inspiration. Have you ever wondered what your life would be like until now if you hadn’t met her?
(Annie thinks) I know I would have missed something big, beyond the fact that she is a mentor in my professional career, as was our late friend Renée Martel and Isabelle Boulay. I don’t have many friends. My true friendships can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But ours is genuine, which is rare, and I’m very grateful to him for that. Laurence and I share the same values. We have the same maritime, Gaspé and Acadian roots. Our meeting was destined! We often go on tour together, but here I wish us one tour to both, to Memphis or Nashville, because country music is in our blood. It would be a kind of Thelma and Louise trip, but without the drama. (laughs)
‘s team The week and Annie Blanchard surprised Laurence with this tribute when she was invited for a photo shoot. The emotion was there.
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“What a nice surprise! But think of my old heart that receives all this! (laughs) I am so touched to receive such a lovely message from my beautiful Annie. The feeling is really mutual, because she is also an angel in my path. Everything that is usually difficult to achieve in our relationships, I experience with Annie on a daily basis. If I had been offered to participate in this column, I would have made the same choice. Friendship with Annie is simple, filled with love, laughter… and scratching. (laughs) It’s bizarre how many crabs we eat together, sometimes before going on stage! (laughs)”
About their strong bond, she adds: †Annie and I talk heart to heart. We are open to each other, we know what we are going through in our lives and we support each other through good and evil. Annie was there through my worst trials. Even though I didn’t tell her everything, I knew she was there for me and that comforted me. Listening and respect are the foundation of our relationship, which I cherish. This testimony of my beauty is great to me. I have a problem with my self-esteem, so I’m working on that. (laughs) Giving to others is what I enjoy doing most in life, even more than singing. If I were a millionaire I would buy everything I see for the ones I love, but when I receive a small gift I would hide in a corner because it bothers me. Thank you so much for all that today, I am very touched.”
For more information about Annie Blanchard and the dates of her shows, visit the site bammedia.ca/annie-blanchard† To follow Laurence Jalbert’s activities, go to laurencejalbert.ca†
The two singers will take the stage along with Paul Daraîche as part of the Against winds and tides tour in honor of Renée Martel. For show dates or to buy tickets: daraiche-martel.ca†
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