Lisa LeBlanc is an acclaimed Rosaireville, New Brunswick-born, Montréal-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (banjo and guitar), who proudly claims Acadian heritage — and comes from a family of passionate music lovers. (In case you’re curious — as I was — Cajuns are often described as descendants of Acadian exiles, who went to Louisiana during Britain’s Great Expulsion of Acadians from what is now known as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, parts of Eastern Québec and Northern Maine. To simplify it a quite a bit, Acadians and Cajuns are historically very deeply connected, although it’s kind of confusing.)
LeBlanc can trace the origins of her professional career to when she turned 14 and stared to write her own original songs. She played her first shows at O’Donaghues in Miramichi with her mother accompanying her because she was underage — and couldn’t be legally in the bar by herself. But despite her relative youth, she quickly received recognition for her guitar playing and for being a promising singer/songwriter when she won 2010’s Festival International de chanson de Granby – singing material in French.
The juried award brought her to the attention of the country’s Francophone media. And as a result, she wound up playing Coup de cœur francophone, FrancoFoiles de Montréal and at Festival d’été de Québec by the following year.
Building upon a growing profile across Francophone Canada, LeBlanc’s full-length, self-titled debut was released in 2012 by Montréal-based label Bonsound. Primarily written while she was still living in her native Rosaireville, studying at L’École nationale de la chanson with portions written in Montréal, where she eventually relocated, the album was recorded by Karkwa’s Louis-Jean Cormier at Studio Piccolo. The album is best known for the single “Aujuord’hui ma vie c’est d’la marde” (“Today My Life is Shit”) – and because of the success of that single, the album eventually was certified platinum by Music Canada.
2014’s Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted, her critically applauded and commercially successful English-language EP debuted at #7 on the Canadian Album Charts.
LeBlanc’s sophomore album, 2016’s bilingual Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? featured songs both in English and French, as well as a thrash-folk cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades,” which helped to establish what she has dubbed as thrash-folk. The album was on that year’s shortlist for the Polaris Music Prize.
Back in 2020, LeBlanc, under the pseudonym Belinda released It’s Not a Game, It’s a Lifestyle, a five-song EP of disco songs specifically about bingo – yes, bingo.
The Canadian artist’s third album, last year’s Chiac Disco is a glittery, dance floor friendly tribute to disco, funk and Lee Hazlewood with colorful lyrics sung boldly, loudly and proudly that was released to critical acclaim from CBC Music, La Presse, Le Journal de Montréal, Montréal Gazette, KCRW, Exclaim!, and countless others.
Today, the acclaimed Rosaireville-born, Montréal-based artist announced a Stateside tour in December that will include a December 6, 2023 stop at Café Wha? (Tour dates are below. But you can get more information, including tickets here.)”I recently dug up some photos from our last East Coast tour in the US from 2018,” LeBlanc recalls. “I remember during our New York show, there was a record snow storm and the city was a total ghost town with subways canceled and everything. Despite this, about 300 people came and I couldn’t believe my eyes and kept pinching myself that we were playing NYC for a room full of beautiful people. Needless to say, I’m really excited to come see you all again on my upcoming US tour in December!“
Along with the announcement, LeBlanc shared live footage of her and her backing band performing “Dans l’jus” in front of 45,000 people at this year’s Francos de Montréal, an annual, eight-day Francophone music festival with 250 shows in venues across Downtown Montréal, including a massive, outdoor festival stage in the city’s Quartier des Spectacles section.
“Dans l’jus” is a bombastic dance floor banger that’s roughly one-part Talking Heads, one-part Blondie, one-part glam rock and three-quarters glittery disco funk grooves built around a hypnotic, hook-driven arrangement paired with lyrics that openly discuss the seemingly omnipresence of burnout, frustration and dissatisfaction in our society.
The footage is a small portion of an entire show that was originally broadcast on ICI Radio-Canada Télé, but it reveals a super tight band that can quickly get into an irresistibly funky groove, fronted by a high-energy, dynamic frontperson. LeBlanc and her backing band headlined an M for Montréal showcase at Darling Bowling last year, and it was one of the most memorable and downright fun sets of that year’s festival. So trust me on this, if she’s playing at a city near you, don’t fuck up and miss her.