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Ben Kaye (Ben Kushnir) (BBHS ’55)

1938, Montreal, Quebec – 2007, Montreal, Quebec

Ben Kaye, born Ben Kushnir, was a highly respected music industry artist manager, producer, songwriter and publisher.

His love for the entertainment business started early. While at BBHS where he wrote songs, skits and revues. At 17, he was writing jokes for stand-up comics who played the El Morocco and the Bellevue Casino in Montreal. In the 1950s, he was the lead singer of a short-lived local band, called the Four Kools.

By his early 20s, he was working as a talent scout out of the Show Mart on Berri Street, then a venue for rock ‘n’ roll road shows. He went on to become a major player behind Quebec’s pop music scene in the 1960s. His first major break came in1961, when he signed Les Baronets, a quartet who covered Beatles songs in French, and became their full-time manager. One member of Les Baronets was Rene Angélil, who went on to manage and marry Celine Dion. Kaye was Angélil mentor and remained his friend for over 45 years. Kaye become a senior consultant in Dion’s production company, Les Productions Feelings, negotiating all her international contracts.

Another 1960s band he managed was Les Classels for which he also wrote two of their biggest hits together with fellow BBHS alumni Harvey Stoliar (BBHS ’56) —  Le sentier de neige and Ton amour a changé ma vie. He was the author of more than 150 titles and owner of several publishing companies. Kaye, together  with well-known French songwriter Eddy Marnay, wrote Vivre et Donner for Céline Dion’s 1983 album Les chemins de ma maison.

During his career he represented such notable talents as  Ginette Reno, Patsy Gallant, Michel Pagliaro, Roger Doucet and Aldo Nova. At Kaye’s funeral Angélil spoke, saying “Everything I am today, I owe to Ben Kaye… I loved that man more than anything.”