21 April 1919|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||19 July 1981
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Roger Doucet, CM (21 April 1919 – 19 July 1981) was a Canadian tenor best known for singing the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", on televised games of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Alouettes, and Montreal Expos during the 1970s. He was particularly known for his bilingual version of the anthem, which began in French and ended in English, in recognition of the two languages of Canada.
Doucet's first performance of the national anthem at a Canadiens game was on 13 October 1970. Author Andrew Podnieks noted that Doucet "belted the anthem with an enthusiasm that energized the crowd as much as any Lafleur slapper or Robinson hip check."
During the inaugural Canada Cup tournament, Doucet was scheduled to sing the national anthems at a game between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union on 3 September 1976. However, the lyrics for "Hymn of the Soviet Union" were omitted since the mid-1950s due to their Stalinist content. Doucet consulted with the Université de Montréal's Russian department staff who provided a modified anthem to sing at the game. These lyrics were approved by the Soviet Union the following year for use in its national anthem.
Roger Doucet died in Montreal on 19 July 1981 after sustaining a brain tumour.
American sportswriter Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z) remembered as a highlight of his coverage of Canadiens games that Doucet "[b]rought the house down. I mean, people would cry when he finished that song. And it never ran longer than 47 or 48 seconds." Doucet also changed the way Canadians sing their anthem. Before Doucet, the final "we stand on guard for Thee" was universally sung the way it was written: fa-mi-re-soh-ti-doh, with the 'ti' and the 'doh' falling. Doucet sang the final 'ti-doh' by raising these notes an octave above their traditional pitch. The audience of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada was so vast, and his rendition so powerful, that within a few years Doucet's version became—and remains—the accepted way to conclude "O Canada".
- Doucet, Paul (30 January 2004). "The Montreal Forum". Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- Podnieks, Andrew. A Canadian Saturday Night: Hockey and the Culture of a Country. Greystone. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-55365-201-4. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- "The Great Teams". History by the Minute. Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- Morse, Eric (9 September 2009). "The Cold War on ice / The Soviet national anthem had no words, but that was no problem for the singing voice of the Montreal Canadiens". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 11 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-09.
- Order of Canada citation
- "Continuing the Doucet Legacy of Bringing Hope to Others" (PDF). Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. 25 April 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
- Dr. Z (26 February 2004). "Singing the blues". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-09-09.