The man who many believe is the founding father of the Montreal Jazz Festival, Doudou Boicel, will receive the city’s highest standing order, the Chevalier L’Odre du Montreal.
Mr. Boicel will be awarded with. An award that he says he has been waiting for a long time.
“I want history to remember the work I put in for the community and I believe through this award, the young people will realize the effort that was exerted, in order for them to enjoy the celebration of music now,” Boicel said to the Contact.
The Ordre de Montréal is an award of high distinction that recognizes 17 individuals each year, following a public call for nominations. Recipients are Montreal natives or residents who have distinguished themselves through their achievements or contributions to the development of the city, regardless of their area of activity.
In 1975, Boicel changed the cultural landscape of the city when he opened The Rising Sun, located at 286 Sainte-Catherine Street West, which emerged as a legendary club famous for showcasing some of the world’s greatest musicians who made Montreal a hot spot for music, culture and nightlife.
The slogan for the club at the time of its opening was “Jazz is not dead.”
Boicel was able to bring in the biggest names on the music scene at the time, including Ray Charles, Art Blakey, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie et Nina Simone, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Bill Evans, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, and others.
Many live recordings were also done at the Rising Sun.
“I wanted to promote Black culture. And I decided to open up a space for creative people to gather, sing and play jazz. And this is how the Rising Sun came about,” says Boicel, who moved to Montreal from his native French Guiana in 1970, at the age of 23.
In 1978, Boicel founded Montreal’s first International Festival of Jazz and Blues under the name Rising Sun Festijazz, and brought icons of the genres from all over the world to light up the city musically.
That, he said, paved the way for the hyper-successful Montreal International Jazz Festival, which now draws hundreds of thousands to the city every summer.
Even at his most promising moments, Boicel was never able to win the favor or support of the various levels of government to take the festival to the next level.
The Rising Sun was destroyed by a fire in 1990, and closed down permanently in 1991.
Recognition for Boicel’s contributions to music and to Montreal has been slow in coming. However, he was one of the laureates recognized for Black History Month in 2011. He was also named a Grand Citizen of the borough of Cote-des-Neiges/Notre Dame de Grace, and in 2013 he received the Mathieu DaCosta Award from the Black Coalition of Quebec.
This year, Boicel was also recognized with an award at the Gala Dynastie. And will be receiving his medal on May 17 as part of The Order of Montreal celebration.