Gregory Charles is everywhere. He’s a multi-talented, classically trained pianist and singer who hosts TV and radio shows in French-speaking Quebec, has acted in numerous stage and TV productions, gets tremendous airplay for his recently released easy-listening record album, and makes guest appearances on every second TV and radio show in Quebec (at least the ones in French).
Martine and I will get in the car and start driving into town. Whose show is on the radio? Gregory Charles. Crossing the Jacques Cartier Bridge, whose mug is staring down from a billboard? Gregory Charles.
We go shopping for shoes. Whose voice do we hear smoothly serenading us in from the store’s music system? Gregory Charles. We go to a concert that night and who makes a guest appearance? Gregory Charles. Later, at home, we’re channel flipping on the TV. Oh look, there’s Gregory Charles. Oh, look, there he is again. And again.
The guy is amazing – and everywhere. It seems like there’s nothing he cannot do. He sings, he composes, he plays musical instruments, he acts, he hosts, and he seems able to learn new things at the drop of a hat. “Hey Gregory Charles, how about doing some brain surgery while tapping out a Latino reinterpretation of Lord of the Dance? And while you’re at it, could you juggle these chainsaws?” No problem for Gregory Charles.
If you want the ultimate Gregory Charles experience, listen to his weekly radio show on Radio-Canada, called Des airs de toi, on Saturday afternoons (4:05 PM-7:00PM). Basically, you get Gregory Charles, his piano, and his vast personal library of recordings. He plays records, talks about them, sometimes sings along with them, mixes them up, matches them up, cuts into a solo for a while, cracks a joke or two, and tells a few stories. It’s unusual radio for sure, and not just because there’s no advertising.
Listening to Des airs de toi, you get the impression he’s simply sitting in a room having fun all by himself and you just happen to be listening in. Other times, it’s like he’s the talent at a piano bar and there’s only you, him, and one or two other patrons. It’s very intimate and personal, and spontaneous, which is a nice relief from the standard blah blah blah BLAAAHHHH! type of loudmouth crap you get from most radio personalities. Martine and I have often wondered if such a show would work on English radio. Who would host it? Would English-speaking radio listeners enjoy it? Would the formula even work in English?
Well guess what? CBC has found someone to recreate Des airs de toi in English. The show will air Sunday mornings on CBC Two, and be rebroadcast Sunday nights on CBC One. It will be broadcast from the host’s living room, where he has a grand piano and a vast collection of record albums.He will mix and match music, sing along, tell stories and jokes and whatever else strikes his fancy. Free-form radio in which the host loves his medium, loves his message, and has total creative freedom to basically just banter and jam.
The host for the new show, by the way, is Gregory Charles.