Dégelis – Martha and Camille Ouellet from Dégelis have the same passion, traditional music, mostly the accordion. They share with other seniors their pleasure of playing this instrument.
«Once or twice a month, we will volunteer in seniors’ residences. We do so for our own pleasure and to entertain others: people sing along with us», says Camille Ouellet expressing the bond during those visits.
«I never made a living from this», says the 72 year old man. There was a time where Camille Ouellet would play three nights per week, two hours each time, as a volunteer musician for seniors.
«Music takes away depression», says Martha Ouellet who, as well as playing the accordion, uses other instruments like the harmonica, the bombard and percussion instruments, mainly with dried bones and a washboard. In addition to providing great moments to seniors, the couple also accepts to play several pieces on Thursdays during evenings organised by the Chevaliers de Colomb de Dégelis.
FROM AN EARLY AGE
«At 14 years old, I would play music to make people dance in the kitchen at home. I started playing the harmonica at 8 years old. My grandfather, who was Irish, also played the accordion », says Mrs. Ouellet.
«My father played the harmonica. At 7 years old my mother gave me a small accordion for Christmas», remembers Mr. Ouellet. «Growing up I would play with other people’s accordions. I was 33 years old when I got my first accordion, a Hohner with two rows. I went to work in Baie James and started practicing. When I play I think of other things», he says. People from the area could have possibly heard him during a gala or possibly on a CD, since he has recorded four. He has participated on a fifth one, with a group called CMR which was formed four years ago with his wife and with Richard Martin (keyboards and guitar). «We have over 400 songs in our repertoire as well as 400 instrumental pieces», mentioned the amateur artist.
A UNIFYING INSTRUMENT
It can be said that the accordion has been a unifying instrument in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Ouellet.
«We are together since 2008 when she came to get her accordion fixed and that is how our love started», reveals Mr. Ouellet. «He asked me if I was a widow?», says Mrs. Ouellet. Nothing prevented them from being together since Mr. Ouellet was also a widow. He repairs accordions since 40 years.
Camille Ouellet has participated in several festivals with this instrument. In 2014, while he was Grand Chevalier du conseil 10068 des Frontières, he was coordinator of the first regional accordion festival of Dégelis organised by the Chevaliers de Colomb. Last year there was more than 60 accordion players from all over the province. In 2016, the third edition was on August 6 and 7. «We notice that the young people use this instrument and contribute to uphold the traditional music»
Article of Infodimanche.com