Angèle Arsenault, a Prince Edward Island native who gained fame with her French-language songs, is remembered as a great Acadian ambassador. Ms. Arsenault, 70, died in Quebec on Tuesday. The cause of death was not immediately known.
PEI Premier Robert Ghiz said islanders were saddened to learn about Ms. Arsenault, who was an officer of the Order of Canada and belonged to the Order of Prince Edward Island.
“Angèle was an incredible talent that left an indelible mark on Prince Edward Island and especially on the Island’s Acadian and francophone community,” Mr. Ghiz said in a statement.
“On behalf of the government of Prince Edward Island, I express my deepest sympathies to Angèle’s family and friends.”
In neighbouring Nova Scotia, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse described Ms. Arsenault as “one of [our] greatest ambassadors.”
“La Fédération acadienne is particularly saddened by the death of the composer of the song Grand-Pré, one of the most beautiful songs in the Acadian repertoire,” Justin Mury, president of the federation, wrote on the group’s website.
Ms. Arsenault was born Oct. 1, 1943, in Abrams Village. She was the eighth of 14 children and was exposed to music at an early age because song and dance had an important place in the family.
She won her first singing contest aged 14 and started as a folk singer while in university in Moncton.
Her sister, Marie Anne Arsenault, attended many of her sibling’s performances and said she had a “heart of gold.”
“She was very eclectic on stage,” Marie Anne of Mont Carmel, PEI, told the Journal-Pioneer newspaper.
“She could grab all the audience’s attention; she was very, very good at that, to communicate. She was an excellent communicator.”
That was echoed by singer Edith Butler, who was a close friend of Angèle Arsenault.
“The way she composed was completely different from what we usually heard,” Ms. Butler said. “She was someone who accompanied herself on the piano, on her guitar.
“The lyrics were most important and the melodies were always pleasant. Sometimes the lyrics were funny but they were also deep.”
Although she studied to be a teacher, Ms. Arsenault pursued her singing career when she moved to Quebec to continue her education at Laval University.
She recorded her first album, Première, in the mid-1970s. Her subsequent albums included Libre, in 1977, which sold 300,000 copies and earned her a Félix award. Ms. Arsenault also toured widely across Canada and internationally.
She branched out into other media, hosting the TV series Angèle on Radio-Canada Atlantique in 1981. She also co-hosted Le Radio-café Provigo on the Radiomutuel network.
Besides being in several National Film Board movies, she also won a Gold Hugo Award from the Chicago International Film Festival in 1974 for Avec Angèle, her educational TV show.
Ms. Arsenault also appeared as Ticotine in the children’s TV series Alphabus.