Princess of Rhythm: A Fictional Biography of Gillan Jay

Born Guylaine Chailler in 1929, Guylaine Guy began her cabaret career at the Music Hall in Montreal, before being noticed by famous French celebrity Charles Trinier, who wrote her songs and invited her to a production in Paris in the mid-1950s.

Guylaine Guy will tour four continents and will play in a French feature film, Night of the Suspectsbased on the play eight womenby Robert Thomas.

Former music journalist for the magazine to seeKatherine Genest has fallen in love with the story of Guylaine Guy, who inadvertently falls into the shadow of another Quebec music star from the same era.

She is really gigantic. Since she was the second international star from Quebec, and the first being Alice Ruby, I thought it was important to talk about herSays the writer, who is now a columnist and researcher for Radio Canada and desk editor for the magazine new project.

Specific technical license

Catherine Genest has spent six years in the business rhythm princess, His first novel. She used her research skills to piece together the various elements of the heroine’s life, by searching several databases, such as Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and Radio Canada Archives. It also found historical documents in Brazil, France and the United States.

She also had the opportunity to speak with Guylaine Guy, who lives in Trouville-sur-Mer, Normandy, who unfortunately has Alzheimer’s disease.

Catherine Genest says the disease has completely swallowed his memories. The last time I saw her was just before the pandemic. His most vivid memory were the lyrics In Rosemont in the rainwritten by Quebec poet Raymond Levesque.

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To make up for the hollows of the autobiographical path, Katherine Genest allowed herself to add a few small literary fantasies. I want, I don’t want, because of Alzheimer’s, there were missing pieces of the puzzle that I couldn’t fill with archival research. So I enjoyed imagining what his life could be like.

Katherine Genest

Photo: Radio Canada/Alice Chichi

For example, when she unearthed in a souvenir box three old photos of a man, identified on the back as a certain character from Al Lante, she let her imagination run wild.

He was a Broadway actor and dancer, with whom he starred in the creation of the play can can by Cole PorterThe author explains.

And then I imagined a little love story for them because I told myself that if she had kept pictures of this man her whole life, there must be something simple. I gave myself such little liberties, from place to place, to romanticize the story.

According to Catherine Genest, 80% of the novel’s content is factual 20% embroidered around what I was able to find.

indelible title

One of the most defining confrontations of Guylaine Guy’s career was that of Louis Armstrong, the trumpeter and singer who marked the history of jazz. It is he who called him the title that inspired the title of the novel.

Back then, we really had a sense of ingenuity and trick Catherine Genest explains. Louis Armstrong summoned an army of photojournalists to the Olympia in Paris, and at her coronation, they headed with a tiara, calling her the “Princess of Rhythm,” to bang the paparazzi.

This prestigious award represents unique recognition in the jazz world. Guillen Gay is the only French-speaking and the only white woman to be honored with this title, awarded to African-American music influences such as Ella Fitzgerald and Bessie Smith.

Catherine Genest says Guylaine really understood jazz at a time when not many white musicians did. It’s like a super chameleon that manages to go to those areas.

Finally, Katherine Genest thinks it’s important to contextualize the critical appreciation of a character like Guylaine Guy, who lived his moment of glory seven decades ago.

We live in a time when we value singer-songwriters highly, but Guillen did not live in a time when women were allowed to write and compose. Then that doesn’t make her a lower quality or a lower quality artistindicates.

I hope people will remember her as a great pioneer, and I want to say, a great feminist, because she broke through the glass ceiling so many times.

This text is written by Interview by Eugenie Lippin Blondeaua cultural columnist on the show Every morning. Comments may have been edited for clarity or brevity.

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