The 14th season starts September 29th, 2016 at 9 PM on Télé-Québec.
Imagine having to build a music show from scratch - an hour and a half, with nine musicians playing with international, local and upcoming artists. Twenty songs to master, of all musical styles, performed in front of a live audience. A big night with the lights, the cameras, the tickets, the rehearsals... how long do you think you would need to create such an event? Five months? Five weeks? And if you were told that you had to do it in only a few days? Quite a challenge! And once you have achieved it, what if you were asked to do it again every week? Such a feat seems impossible to achieve! Yet this is what the team at Belle et Bum have been doing brilliantly for more than a decade.
Mélissa Lavergne and Normand Brathwaite – Belle et Bum (© DATSIT Studios inc./Claude Dufresne)
For Datsit Producer Sylvie Tremblay, Belle et Bum is much more than a variety show. It is a musical icon; it’s all about music. But for every show to live up to its high expectations, tremendous preparation and teamwork is required. Wednesday morning is the first rehearsal with Bandmaster Julie Lamontagne and her musicians. From the guitarist to the trumpeter, the saxophonist to the drummer, the bassist to the keyboardist; the band is a true brotherhood. With this chemistry between members everything sounds great, even on the first try. And it better be, because the clock is ticking! Already on Wednesday afternoon, the week’s guests arrive to rehearse their pieces. This is the first time they hear their songs accompanied by Belle et Bum’s house band.
Sylvie Tremblay has stars in her eyes when she talks about the moment artists hear their melodies interpreted by the show’s musicians: "There is something truly magical that happens! Artists are carried away by the strength of the band. It’s beautiful to see!" The next day is already the dress rehearsal and the recording. Alongside production, the Artistic Director and her research team have to remain on top of anything new and interesting in the music industry. Invitations are sent to artists and the team manages their schedules with all the constraints that implies. All this so that the following week, production can build the next show. "Pure adrenaline!" according to Sylvie. We believe that!
Ms. Tremblay explains the full scope of the show: “I have worked at the planning of the national holiday in Quebec City, and to me, Belle et Bum is like a little national holiday of one hour and a half to prepare, every week. We create routines, we have several guests and we bring people together. It is a huge show. It was filmed live for 12 years. Today, it is recorded as if it was live, with the proper timing and the commercial breaks, in front of an audience. The challenge remains the same. You have to be very sharp to achieve that. Everyone is running around! It’s electrifying!”
Normand Brathwaite and Mélissa Lavergne – Belle et Bum (© DATSIT Studios inc./Claude Dufresne)
Behind the madness of creating a unique weekly show in a really short time, Belle et Bum aims to be as inclusive as possible. The show puts great importance on singers from all communities and backgrounds with a special emphasis on francophone songs. By being so accessible while remaining of the highest caliber, Belle et Bum supports many emerging artists. Several well-known songwriters, such as Pierre Lapointe, made their first television appearance on the show.
Since the fans of Belle et Bum love music, albums and live shows, many artists see their sales increase after the broadcast. This one-time appearance on TV becomes an accelerator; a great showcase for artists. By allowing emerging artists to perform on the same stage as established stars, variety remains present every week and everyone wins from it. For example, the duets with Ariane Moffatt and Milk and Bone and with Kevin Parent and Safia Nolin were particularly moving performances.
Sylvie Tremblay is very touched by what such musical encounters can bring: "There is something that happens on the human level when artists meet. They are not there to promote their work: it is a true moment of creation, above everything else. It doesn’t happen anywhere else and the public responds well to that. For example, I met a Colombian family where the mother told me that every week, she and her relatives drink cocktails and dance while watching Belle et Bum. It gave me chills! It's magical to see that the show can be a doorstep towards community integration. In remote areas too, people who do not have live shows [come to their towns] watch Belle et Bum to have access to music through Télé-Québec. It's very unifying!"
Sylvie Tremblay, Producer, Belle et Bum (© DATSIT Studios inc./Claude Dufresne)
Staying appealing after so many years of broadcasting is not easy. Therefore, the team has to constantly renew their ideas to maintain freshness and interest in the show. New ideas are precisely what drive Sylvie Tremblay, who joined the production team three years ago: “We have re-energized everything, we made it more modern. We changed the set, the position of the musicians, the lighting… I do not like to repeat what we did last year! It allows us to improve, to evolve and remain up to date.” In addition to the visual and technical aspects, one of the co-hosts also changed recently. Melissa Lavergne, percussionist with the show since the first day, has become the fifth Belle at Belle et Bum. Everything happened naturally, because Melissa was not an outsider: she knows the show very well. And she co-hosts with another musician who has been there since the beginning, Normand Brathwaite. Because he is always excited by the inclusive spirit of the show, Normand is a real ambassador; the one and only Bum!
Behind the weekly party that is Belle et Bum, Sylvie remains aware of the privilege and the challenge behind the show: "This is a time when budgets are increasingly tight. So we need to maximize what we have, use the strengths of each person and take a step back. Viewers feel like Belle et Bum will always be there but decisions are made one season at a time. For now, it is the talent of each member of the team that keeps the show alive. It's unique, precious and we want to preserve that." The only thing left to do is to wish continued success to Belle et Bum.