Marie-Josee Houle

Marie-Josee Houle

 Ottawa, Ontario, CAN

Sultry, fiery red-headed French Cafe and Gypsy Jazz accordionesse singing in French and in English, solo or backed by a full band.


"As she launched into a lilting waltz-like number called "Nuit Verglassante" I wrote in my notebook 'If Edith Piaf had a punk rock granddaughter singing for her supper in an offbeat but intimate Paris bistro she would probably sound like this.'" - Rick Dennis, September 25, 2009 performance review at the Duncan Garage Showroom in Duncan, BC

"Houle's rekindled accordion relationship has resulted in wonderful levels of sultry mood frolic over two primo albums that not only feature her instrumental dexterity, but also a splendidly saucy vocal styling in three languages: English, French and Romance. " - John Sekerka, Ottawa XPress, November 27/08

"Marie-Josée Houle's second album, Monsters, is a cathartic exercise about heartbreak that benefits both author and listener." - Fateema Sayani, Ottawa Citizen, October 16/08

"A moody emotional journey that set Houle's accordion and emotive vocals in a decidedly non-polka context, the album defied easy categorization. And immediately won favour with those in search of challenging independent sounds outside the world of post-rock collectives and stoner-rock bands. Monsters, the followup to that promising debut, ups the ante. Accordion in hand, Houle runs through dark narratives of demons internal and external, as her merry band of Canadians and Norwegians delves into vaguely European waltz, klezmer, rock and, yes, polka territory. Throughout, Houle sings of wanton desire and the perils thereof, throwing in a well-placed Jolie Holland cover along the way." Alan Wigney, Ottawa Sun, October 15/08

"Moving from punk rock roots to French chanson and upbeat accordion seems a stretch, but Marie-Josee Houle is negotiating the musical journey just fine. Disparate musical, travel, educational and career experiences have come together for the Ottawa-based singer-musician in a surprising, cohesive fashion on her recent, second CD, Monsters, recorded in Oslo, Norway, and Ottawa with a mix of Norwegian and Canadian jazz and roots players. Despite such varied ingredients and influences, it's Houle's zest for life that comes out." - Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal, October 10/08

“Houle's stirring defiance is all her own on this debut that is equal parts red velvet, expensive booze, vamp and high drama made alive by a pile of instruments including the accordion, stand-up bass, fiddle, mando and that creamy, cabaret-torch voice.” - Fateema Sayani, Ottawa Citizen, March 17/07

“Though emotionally tangled up in blue, the velvet voiced Houle maintains unwavering focus throughout, playing as if every note, every word, every gasp and breath of the squeezebox literally sustains her” - Steve Baylin, Ottawa XPress, March 22/07

“Houle interprète ses chansons de regret et de vengeance.” - Voir, July 14/07

“The ghost of Paris' Little Sparrow [Edith Piaf] certainly can be heard in Houle's modern-day take on gypsy jazz and French café music” - SEE Magazine, July 26/07

"Houle is a gifted singer and her album is a treasure." -, May 25/08

"Le répertoire de l’auteure-compositrice-interprète fait dans l’émotion plutôt que dans la virtuosité avec un quelque chose d’envoûtant dans le rythme et un soupçon d’irrévérence dans l’interprétation." Voix Pop,, June 25/08

Born in Val d‘Or, Quebec and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Marie-Josée Houle celebrates her dual cultural roots through music. Singing and writing in both English and French, she brings the Townships to the Prairies and beyond. No polkas or foxtrots for this accordion diva; instead, she combines her classical, punk rock, and French cabaret sensibilities into one sultry stew of sound.

Her musical history is as varied as her hair colour. Classically trained on the accordion at age five, she chose other instruments as the medium to first deliver music to the masses. In 2000, she took up the electric bass and saxophone in order to form two very eclectic projects in Edmonton. Her reconnection with the accordion coincided with a move to Ottawa in 2003 and culminated in the world music collaboration whose success served as a springboard for her solo work.

Her solo debut Our Lady of Broken Souls (2007) and her sophomore album Monsters (2008) received much critical acclaim, including nominations for Best Folk Album of 2007 and of 2008 by the Ottawa Xpress. Both albums charted and received solid airplay on local college and community radio stations across the country.

Two-thousand-and-seven saw her play the main stage of festivals in Canada, a few European dates, embark on her first successful cross-country tour and share a stage with other celebrated female artists for a CBC Radio 1 broadcast. In 2008, Marie-Josée Houle continued to journey across Canada and to Europe.

Two-thousand-and-nine proved to be another great year with multiple tours and festivals in Canada and Europe including the 10th Annual Accordion Festiva


Monsters - Independent
Released on October 1, 2008
Nominated for the Best Folk Album of 2008 in the Ottawa XPress

Our Lady of Broken Souls - Independent
Released on March 16, 2007
Nominated for the Best Folk Album of 2007 in the Ottawa XPress

Tracks can be heard at or

Set List

Typical set: 45 minutes to 2 hours

80% original music 20% covers
Sultry, passionate red wine music with Absinthe chasers.