When the sun rises on the east end of Toronto, is shines a light on a hidden corner of the French-speaking world. Deep in the heart of East York, a group of Franco-Ontarian musicians string their guitars with sunlight and practice picking locks. These songtinkerers enthusiastically plunder from the repertoire of French songs handed down to them by their Quebecois, French, and Belgian ancestors. For good measure, Irish roots are also invoked and American, European and African influences are added with little concern for musical boundaries.
Since their stage debut at the Francophonie en Fête festival in Toronto in 2013, Welcome Soleil has pilfered from Francis Cabrel, shoplifted from Félix Leclerc and pillaged from Zachary Richard – everything is done with love and humour, keeping the beauty of the original at the heart of the new arrangements. Bits of borrowed melodies, unexpected rhythms and tight vocal harmonies add new flavour to traditional and modern tunes. A collection of original songs honed on Toronto stages rounds out the mix. Welcome Soleil plays their funky French folk for francophones and anglophones alike, always keeping things fun!
Welcome Soleil is Guy Smagghe (voice, guitars, harmonica), Philippe Lafaury (guitars, mandolin, vocals), Richard Morgan (bass, vocals) and Paddy Morgan (drums, percussion, vocals).