Edith Butler

Edith Butler

Edith Butler

Marie Nicole Edith Butler, a singer-songwriter, was born in Paquetville, near Caraquet, on July 27, 1942. She started singing in Moncton cafés while studying and performed mainly at festivals and on Halifax TV from 1962 to 1967, singing Acadian folk songs accompanied by her guitar.

Butler starred in the National Film Board of Canada’s 1964 film “Les Acadiens de la dispersion.” After teaching in Bathurst from 1964 to 1966, she conducted ethnographic research at Laval University from 1966 to 1969 while continuing to perform in Quebec City’s boîtes à chansons.

In 1970, Butler was a featured performer at the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, for six months. That year, she also participated in the Mariposa Folk Festival and other events in Toronto and Washington. She toured Ireland in 1971 and Europe in 1973.

Edith Butler

Starting in 1973, Butler began composing her own songs, with lyrics often written by Lise Aubut. On stage, she played several instruments (banjo, dulcimer, guitar, harmonica, drum, violin), some of which she made herself. She held recitals at various venues, including the Place des Arts, the Grand Théâtre in Quebec City, and Le Patriote. In 1977, she hosted “Veillée de Noël” on CBC TV.

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In 1978, Butler was featured in a show celebrating the 370th anniversary of Quebec City’s founding. She toured Canada and France from 1979 to 1981, performed at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, and appeared on French TV programs like “Le Grand échiquier” and “Champs-Élysées.”

In 1981, she won the Prix international de la chanson and in 1983, the Grand prix du disque de l’Académie Charles-Cros for her album De Paquetville à Paris.

CBC dedicated the program “Edith Butler Superstar” to her in 1984, followed by a special with Symphony Nova Scotia in 1985. Her show “Un million de fois je t’aime” won the Félix trophy for pop show of 1985, and her LP Le Party d’Edith won the Félix for most sales. She performed at the Olympia in Paris in 1985 and 1986. Her albums … et le party continue! (1986) and Party pour danser (1987) both went gold.

After Butler’s appearance at the National Arts Centre, the critic for Le Droit (Ottawa, 12 Apr 1979) wrote: “Tall and regal, dressed all in white, Edith Butler sparkles on stage. She sings the songs and legends of her native Acadia so forcefully that you simply can’t resist the artful invitation of their rhythm and melody… her performances of laments and old folk songs, unaccompanied for the most part, have great strength and invoke haunting memories that you would like to retain forever.” “Avant d’être dépaysée,” “Marie Caissie,” ”Mon Arcadie,” “L’Acadie s’marie,” “Je vous aime, ma vie recommence,” and “Le Fil de la rivière” are among her best-known songs.

In 1975, Butler co-founded les Éditions de l’Arcadie and l’Acalf (Aide à la création artistique et littéraire de la femme) with her agent Lise Aubut. She recorded on the SPPS (Société de production et de programmation de spectacles) label from 1976 to 1983, a record company she established with Lise Aubut, Angèle Arsenault, and Jacqueline Lemay in 1974. She published a collection of songs, L’Acadie sans frontières (Montreal 1974), and a song collection by Intermède Musique in 1978.

Her honours include:

  • She is the recipient of many awards: the Ordre du Mérite de la culture française (1971)
  • Officer of the Order of Canada (1975)  
  • Ordre de la Pléiade (1978, an honour bestowed by New Brunswick)
  • Honorary Indian princess of the Abenaki nation
  • Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite de la République française (1999)
  • The Canadian Heritage Prix Montfort (2004)
  • The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009).

Edith Butler, Stamp

In 2007 Butler was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame for her song “Paquetville,” and in 2009 a stamp was issued in her honour as part of the Canada Post “Canadian Recording Artists” series. 

Click here to discover more famous New Brunswickers. 

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