||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (December 2009)|
|Birth name||André "Dédé" Fortin|
17 November 1962|
Saint-Thomas-Didyme, Quebec, Canada
|Died||8 May 2000(aged 37)|
|Genres||Folk rock, Ska/Reggae, Blues rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, violin, guitar|
|Associated acts||Les Colocs|
Fortin was born to Alfred Fortin and Gisèle Tremblay on a farm near the small village of Saint-Thomas-Didyme, in the rural Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec. He was the tenth of eleven children. When he was eight, the family moved to Normandin, but he always valued his childhood home. Fortin attended public schools and studied cinema at the Université de Montréal with his friend Éric Henry.
Fortin was long interested in music and started writing song lyrics. In 1990, he formed Les Colocs, after meeting Patrick Esposito Di Napoli and a couple of the other band members. The music they wrote, recorded and performed was a folk rock sound, emerging from Québécois music, with a ska backbeats and several other genres of music. They released their first album in 1993 to great acclaim. Les Colocs' festive melodies often hid the more serious issues which Fortin addressed in his lyrics, such as poverty (Passe-moé la puck), loss of community (La rue principale), emotional dependence (Juste une p'tite nuite), or drug dependence (Tassez-vous de d'là). Fortin made Félix Award-winning videos for the group during this period.
He was a passionate believer in Quebec independence. An activist for the OUI ("Yes") campaign, Fortin worked to create support for independence during the campaign of the 1995 Quebec referendum. The band performed at partisan meetings. The death in 1994 of bandmate and friend Patrick Esposito Di Napoli from AIDS affected him deeply. Fortin struggled with depression during the following years.
Dehors Novembre (1998), the last LP from the group, was written and performed with the help of the Diouf brothers, whose background from Senegal added a new element to the band's music. It has become Fortin and the band's most celebrated work, and it won the Félix Award for the Rock Album of the Year.
Death and legacy
In 2000 Fortin was said to have been saddened by the break-up of a relationship. On 8 May 2000, he committed suicide at his apartment by the Japanese ritual of seppuku, a kind of disembowelment. A friend found him in a pool of blood. Four days afterwards, fans left flowers and messages in his memory at his building on Rachel Street, in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal. Others criticized his act; one writer in Le Devoir said that he was "not a hero."
The day before, the Colocs manager Raymond Paquin had received a poem by Fortin. He published it posthumously in La Presse. In part the poem read: Condemned by doubt, immobile and timorous; I am like my people, indecisive and a dreamer; I speak to whomever wants to hear of my fictive country, my heart full of vertigo and consumed by fear. Several years later, the remaining members of the band recovered a CD with the original song recorded from this poem by Dédé himself; they made their own version, which they released in 2009.
Fortin has been remembered in different ways:
- Saint-Thomas-Didyme, where Dédé Fortin was born, renamed Rang Saint-Henri as "Chemin Dédé-Fortin" in his honor in 2006.
- In 2009, a film about Fortin's life, entitled Dédé à travers les brumes (Dédé through the mist), was released.
- The Fondation Andre Dédé Fortin was established to educate about depression and prevent suicides; it has established a 24-hour crisis line and conducts workshops to help people in need.
- "Hommage à André Fortin du groupe musical Les Colocs" , Saint-Thomas-Dydime
- Kelly, Brendan (2 June 2008). "Recreating a rock legend". The Gazette. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
- Encyclopedia Of Death, Agora, Quebec, (French)
- André Labrecque and Mathieu Martel. Letter, in Le Devoir. 15 June 2000.
- "Fondation André Dédé Fortin" Website