The subways jukebox woman

The subway’s “jukebox woman.”

In Montreal, the journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is mainly on the run, with his office in his backpack, looking for fascinating topics and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all areas of life in this city chronicle.

She’s always there, in front of the Côte-des-Neiges metro station, and sings seven days a week from 6 a.m. to around 1 p.m., even in winter.

Some call her the jukebox woman. She knows more than 200 songs by heart, with a fondness for Edith Piaf and Marjo.

In the absence of a ticket or coin for a specific track, she sings whatever she pleases.

When I arrived on Friday morning, she accurately interpreted the song Dry your tears by Daniel Bélanger.

“I would have wished that my career as a singer would take off and that a producer would take notice of me, but that didn’t happen, so I’m singing in front of the subway now,” Thalie Norac admits to me immediately with a beaming smile.

A good article

“I come to listen to her during my walk: she sings well and she’s nice,” said a passer-by, Gilles, a retired STM bus driver.

Realizing I’m a journalist, Gilles gives me a stern look and makes me swear I’ll write “a good article” on Thalie.

During the interview, some passers-by leave her a coin or greet her in passing.

“I don’t really know these people because I’m too busy singing to talk to them, but I thank them when they give me something and I recognize them,” breathes Ms. Norac.

Thalie Norac is the stage name that the native of Ville-Émard chose for her career around 1990, in her early twenties.

“I petitioned the court in 2007 and was granted that it become my real name.”

She was a waitress at Coras, Mikes and Giorgio for a long time, she tells me.

“I also sang Telegram for Party Productions in the 1990s.”

Not far from there, she studied music at the Vincent d’Indy School and jazz at Lionel-Groulx College.

“I also paid for singing lessons, I put everything into it.”


In the mid-2000s, Thalie bought three large street signs to get around: one at the corner of Jean-Talon and Saint-Laurent, one at 15, and one at 20.

“It didn’t work, it was expensive and it put me on the street,” she says.

She wants to make it clear that she has a roof over her head.

“Yes, I have an apartment, I’ve been in an apartment since I was 18.”

During our conversation, an STM employee came to offer her a nice suitcase, but Thalie declined.

“I work hard and I want to buy my own stuff with the money I earn: I don’t want donations of clothing or equipment, that annoys me.”

She writes her recipes in a notebook and if she sings as planned today, that's 133 days in a row.

Photo Louis Philippe Messier

She writes her recipes in a notebook and if she sings as planned today, that’s 133 days in a row.

As evidenced by a notebook in which the singer jots down her recipes, Thalie has been singing here seven days a week since May 15… today, 133 days in a row.

“I’m hardworking and reliable, I’d love to get contracts, but life broke and changed things… I never thought I’d sing like this outside of a capella.”

Three seconds after the interview, Thalie Norac started singing again.