Paul Cargnello

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Paul Cargnello
Origin Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres blues-rock
folk rock
punk rock
Occupation(s) singer-songwriter, poet
Instruments vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion, bass guitar, drums, melodica, keyboard[1]
Years active 1994–present[2]
Labels Silence D'Or [3]
Associated acts The Vendettas, Skinny Bros
Website Official website

Paul Cargnello is a Montreal singer-songwriter and poet whose unique musical repertoire spans punk rock, reggae, blues and folk.[4] Although English is his first language, Cargnello chooses to write and sing in both English and French, with French having gradually come to dominate his lyrics. To date, he has achieved modest success in this endeavour, and some have even described him as the next Jim Corcoran[5] and the rightful heir to Quebec rocker Jean Leloup[6]

Biography and Musical Career[edit]

Cargnello was born in Montreal in 1979 of Lithuanian & Italian descent. He has two siblings, Christopher, also a musician and Julian, a visual artist. His early family life was one of much creative content, his mother was a teacher of dance, theater,and creative writing and his father, a clinical psychologist, was also a guitarist and visual artist.[2]

His musical career began in 1992, at the age 13 when he formed a band with his brother and close friend called The Rubber Band. This group may have been one of the youngest of ever perform at the Yellow Door in Montreal, which was one of the longest running folk coffee houses in Canada. This group became the Vandals Took the Handles and opened for The Asexuals.[7] By 1994, at the age of fifteen, Cargnello and his friends Diego Di Gregorio and Adam Kardos formed a band, which became known as The Vendettas.[2] In 2000 the band released its first album It’s Happening to You, but weighed down by financial troubles, the group dissolved in 2002.[2] However, three years later, the monetary support of one fan caused the group to reassemble for a final collaboration which spawned the album Say No to the Vendettas.[2]

Following The Vendettas’ break up, Cargnello released his first solo album, Lightweight Romeo. He has since released seven more solo records: Between Evils, Live au Va et Vien, Brûler le jour, Bragging,[4] (the particularity of this album lay in the fact that it is available only at his concerts, [8] Bras Coupé, La Course des Loups, and Papa Paul. [9]

An interesting trend in Cargnello’s music is the adoption of French as his preferred language of expression. The artist explains this choice by citing the francophone nature of his native city and reasons that writing in French has permitted him to express himself more simply and directly than in English.[10] The shift began when Cargnello, who was educated in English, moved to the Plateau Mont-Royal, a francophone quarter, at the age of nineteen.[2] It took some time before Paul’s immersion really manifested itself in his music (his first two solo albums featured only one French composition each), but over time Cargnello embraced French as is demonstrated in his critically acclaimed fourth album, Brûler le jour, written almost entirely in French with only one English track.

Brûler le Jour is all the more noteworthy in that it marked the first time that Cargnello as a solo artist collaborated with other songwriters.[1] These included Jim Corcoran, Vincent Vallières, Ève Cournoyer, Marco Calliari and Fred Fortin.[10] The album was as successful as it was groundbreaking with the song "Une Rose Noire" making its way to the Top 5 on MusiquePlus just weeks after the album’s release, and becoming a Quebec-wide hit.[2]

Cargnello performed at Montreal's celebration of Saint Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, 2008. This was yet another indicator of Cargnello’s growing popularity especially given that Anglo-Quebecers are rarely invited to perform at such nationalist events.[10] He also was invited and appeared numerous times on the popular Télé-Québec show Belle et Bum. He appeared on this show with such notable artists as Zachary Richard and the late Bad News Brown Paul Frappier.

Cargnello signed with Tacca Musique [11] in 2009, and completed his first tour in France and Switzerland, followed by two more the following year.

In 2010, Paul Cargnello released his third French language album, La Course des Loups and it has been critically regarded as the most ambitious one to date. [12] [13] The title gives a nod to Jean Leloup and a quote from Che Guevara "On the route for wolves; one can succeed only at the cost of the failure of others."

In September of 2012 Paul Cargnello released his fourth French language album, Papa Paul under hip-hop label Silence D'Or. To date, Paul Cargnello is the only non hip-hop artist to sign with the label.


Cargnello performs with a band called The Frontline, whose members include Sandy Belfort (keyboard and vocals), Pat Lavergne (bass guitar), José “le” Major (drums and vocals) as well as his brother Christopher Cargnello (seven-string guitar and vocals, occasionally drums and/or bass), and including Vincent Stephen-Ong on saxophone for the latest release of Papa Paul. [3] The ensemble, under a slightly different configuration that included Ryan “Ace” Fleury (bass guitar and vocals), released a live album in 2005 titled Paul Cargnello and the Frontline Live au Va-et-Vient.[2]

Political activism[edit]

Paul Cargnello is known to support the political left. In his youth he defined himself as a communist and had spearheaded an organization The New Socialist Climate while in college and published a newsletter called "The Black List", but in 2007 Cargnello said that he no longer sympathized with the extreme left although still considered himself a socialist and believed in “revolutionary politics.”[14] Cargnello’s activism attracted attention when he, his wife (then girlfriend), and some band mates were arrested for participating in a police brutality protest in 2001.[15] Four years passed before a formal acquittal.[14] Cargnello acknowledges his wife, whom he has known since the age of fifteen, for introducing him to politics and feminism—as well as punk music.[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organization Award Result
2005 Alex Soria Fountains Best Singer-songwriter Won[1]
2007 Félix Leclerc Foundation Prix Félix-Leclerc de la chanson Nominated[4]
2007 Radio Canada Sacré Talent! Won[2]
2009 SOCAN Le Prix de la Chanson Écho Nominated[4]
2009 Canadian Folk Music Award French Singer/Songwriter of the Year Nominated[4]
2009 Quebec Indie Music Awards (GAMIQ) Singer/Songwriter Album Nominated[4]

Other Accomplishments & Trivia[edit]

  • Paul Cargnello is also a standard poet. In 1997, he published his first collection of poems, Driving in Reverse, which was followed up with Old Hat in 2002.[2]
  • Cargnello is an avid collector of hats. An article in Le Devoir from March 9, 2007 stated that he owns thirty.[17]


  • Lightweight Romeo (2002)
  • Between Evils (2004)
  • Paul Cargnello and the Frontline: Live au Va-et-Vient (2005)
  • Brûler le Jour (2007)
  • Bragging (2008)
  • Bras coupé (2009)
  • La Course Des Loups (2010)
  • La Reigne Contre Paul Cargnello(2010)[18]
  • Papa Paul (2012)
  • The Hardest Part Is You May Never Know (2014)


  1. ^ a b c “Paul Cargnello,” Radio Canada: Espace Musique: Répertoire d’artistes. [1] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j “Paul Cargnello / Biographie,” Globetrotter: Profils d’artistes. [2] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  3. ^ a b “General Info,” Paul Cargnello Myspace. [3] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  4. ^ a b c d e f “Bio,” Paul Cargnello – Website, 2008. [4] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  5. ^ Stéphane Leclair, Radio Canada: Désautels: Culture. [5] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  6. ^ T'Cha Dunlevy, New music Oct. 7. 2010: Paul Cargnello. [6] (accessed September 17, 2011).
  7. ^ [7] (accessed October 7, 2012).
  8. ^ “Bragging: Album 5,” Paul Cargnello Myspace Blog, May 15, 2008. [8] (accessed September 18, 2008).
  9. ^ [9] (accessed September 19, 2012).
  10. ^ a b c Francis Hébert, “Paul Cargnello: T’en souviens-tu d’la langue?” Voir: Musique, June 12, 2008. [10] (accessed September 18, (7) 2008).
  11. ^ Tacca Musique website biography. Accessed November 8, 2009
  12. ^ Juan Rodriguez, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal: The most adventurous music saved for last[11](Accessed September 17, 2011).
  13. ^ Agata De Santis, Paul Cargnello - La Course des Loups [12] (Accessed on September 17, 2011)
  14. ^ a b Jamie O’Meara, “French Revolution,” Hour: Music, February 22, 2007. [13] (accessed September 19, 2008).
  15. ^ Leah Temper, “Cargnello: A Man for All Seasons,” The Concordian Online, October 23, 2002. [14] (accessed September 19, 2008).
  16. ^ Olivier Robillard Laveaux, “L’amour à gauche,” Voir: Musique, February 19, 2004, [15] (accessed September 19, 2008).
  17. ^ Philippe Papineau, “Paul Cargnello: French connexion,” Le Devoir, March 9, 2007, [16] (accessed September 19, 2008).
  18. ^