Born in 1978 in Quebec city, Étienne Drapeau was a professional ice hockey player, now retired. Music has been his passion from a young age. He began learning the piano at the age of five and later learned guitar and harmonica too. He launched his singing career in the bars and clubs of Quebec and his talent captured public attention when he reached the top ten on the second season of the Quebec musical reality show Star Académie in 2004. To date he has released six albums and written over seventy songs. He has performed across Europe and Africa, as well as in the USA and the Dominican Republic.
Étienne Drapeau is a singer from Quebec who discovered Latin music some five years ago on a visit to the Dominican Republic, and fell in love.
A well-known singer in Canada for the past twelve years famous for songs inspired by love and everyday life, Etienne is now working seriously in Latin genres particularly bachata, merengue and some salsa.
In an exclusive interview with CubaPlus Étienne talked about his passion for Latin music,that he discovered in 2013 when he went to the Dominican Republic to shoot a video for his track J’suis amoureux (“I’m in Love”). It was there that he fell in love with Dominican music and culture, and Latin culture more generally.
“At that point I didn’t speak Spanish yet but I fell in love with Latin music, and with the culture, the joie de vivre of Latin people, that’s typical in Cuba [too]. It was something that changed my life. I decided to learn the language, and I said to myself – I want to speak Spanish, I want to learn it all. I want to sing in Spanish, I want to learn to dance salsa, merengue, bachata.. all of it.”
“I taught myself the language,” he explains, “and learnt from a Panamanian teacher who I studied with intensively for two years. I wanted to learn not just so I could sing but also to learn from Latin people, their culture and their history.”
Étienne is currently involved in the Quebec-Cuba Intercultural Project organized by Canadian music company Les Productions Québec-Cuba inc. and Cuba’s Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales (EGREM). He will be performing with Cuban band Enrique Álvarez y la Charanga Latina in a series of concerts in Quebec this coming August and in October they will be giving shows in Cuba – in Holguín, Havana and Varadero.
“That will be an amazing experience,” he added. “Cuba is an incredible country. For me, coming to Cuba and sharing a stage with a group like La Charanga Latina, so famous, is going to be incredible. I’m so excited about it.” He also went on to say he’s jealous (in a good way) of Latin culture “for being being so joyful.”
“Latin music is wonderful,” said Étienne. “I have so much respect for Cuban musicians and for the people, who really know how to dance. I have a lot of respect for the country, the music, the culture and I feel so grateful to be able to bring my art to this marvellous island.” And finally, “I hope Cuba likes the music I sing.”