Music News Digest, April 12, 2021

Canadians fare well in the iHeartRadio Music Awards nominations, Lindsay Hyslop (pictured) is promoted at Anthem Records, and another Hall of Fame honour for Kim Mitchell. Also in the news are Sultans of String, RBC Bluesfest, Forest City London Music Hall of Fame, Lara St. John, Horseshoe Hootenanny, Junos stamp, AFROWAVETO, Lowell, The International Indigenous Music Summit, The Dead South, Gene Champagne, Jazz Congress, and farewell DMX.

Music News Digest, April 12, 2021

By Kerry Doole

The nominations for the eighth annual iHeartRadio Music Awards have been announced, and Canadian artists fare well. Amongst the multiple nominees are The Weeknd, Drake, Justin Bieber, J.P. Saxe and Shawn Mendes. Earning one nod apiece are Powfu, Frank Dukes, and Tate McRae. See the full list of nominees here. Social voting for some categories is open from now until May 19. Fans can vote on Twitter using the appropriate category and nominee hashtags or by visiting The Awards will air live from The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on May 27, 8 - 10 pm ET. The event will also be aired on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide and on the iHeartRadio app.


– Anthem Entertainment has announced the promotion of Lindsay Hyslop to Director of Marketing for Anthem Records. A press release states that "based in Nashville, Lindsay has successfully expanded Anthem Records marketing outreach and efficiency, and has played an integral part in creating and building value for the label’s artists and music partners. Reporting to Allison Hamamura (General Manager, West Coast & Head of Anthem Records), Lindsay will continue to oversee all label marketing in addition to working closely with Anthem’s artists and songwriters to build and design opportunities that showcase their creative works around the world."

Prior to joining Anthem Records, Hyslop managed the marketing, brand partnerships and streaming for RGK Entertainment Group and previous to that worked at Universal Music Canada in the digital marketing department. 

Canadian Music Week has announced Kim Mitchell will be inducted into the INDIES Hall of Fame at the 20th Annual Jim Beam INDIES Awards on May 21. The guitarist, singer, songwriter, and broadcaster has achieved critical acclaim and multi-platinum commercial success over a storied career spanning five decades. Mitchell was also honoured at CMW last year, when he entered the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CHSF), and in 2004 he received a National Achievement Award from SOCAN. This year, CMW will run May 18 - 21 with a virtual conference and showcase festival.


– Award-winning Toronto world music group Sultans of String have just delivered a new video, Ojhri Camp, a cut from the band's most album, Refuge. The release of the clip coincides with the anniversary of the 1988 Ojhri Camp disaster in Pakistan, a tragedy that inspired Sultans of String collaborator Anwar Khurshid to write the song, along with SoS. Of note: Refuge just earned Sultans bandleader Chris McKhool and noted producer/engineer John ‘Beetle” Bailey a Canadian Folk Music Award as Producer(s) of the year.

– For the second straight year, Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest has cancelled its July event, because of the Covid-19  pandemic. Executive director Mark Monahan says in a statement that organizers tried to find a way to host the event in July, but after running out of time, they’re looking ahead to 2022. Rage Against the Machine is set to headline then, with Run the Jewels also booked to perform. Fest fans who held onto their 2020 tickets will be eligible for a refund, or can keep them until next year. The refund window ends on April 30.Passes for the 2022 festival are on sale. Info here.


– The list of new inductees into the Forest City London Music Hall of Fame comprises country star Earl Heywood, Johnny Stevens and the Canadians, violinist Lara St. John, and B.W. Pawley and Plum Loco. Also being honoured during London Music Week, June 6 to 13, for lifetime achievement will be local music industry veteran Greg Simpson, who died last June. London Free Press

– The Horseshoe Hootenanny livestream concert series features live to air band performances (not pre-recorded) from the stages of the Horseshoe Tavern & Lee’s Palace in Toronto. The series financially supports the bands, their crews, local technicians and videographers, and the venues, while the stage is dark and in lockdown, after over a full year in Covid-19. The series is professionally filmed, with funding provided by the Government of Ontario. All shows are also available for replay after the original airing for 10 days. Upcoming live-streams (lockdown regulations permitting) include Birds of Bellwoods (May 7), The Trews (May 8), Julian Taylor Band (May 20), Metz (May 21), Terra Lightfoot (May 21), Hawksley Workman and The Wolves (May 28), and Danny Michel (May 29). More info and tix here.


– The Juno Awards turns 50 this year, and Canada Post is celebrating this  golden anniversary with a commemorative stamp that features a pictorial of the event's new trophy.

AFROWAVETO is a new black music festival that features some of Toronto's finest rap, R&B, reggae, Afrobeats, dancehall, and reggaeton artists. It debuts online April 24, with a lineup including Exco Levi, Kirk Diamond, Desiire, LeiLa Dey, and Shopé who won CBC's Searchlight competition for Canada's best undiscovered talent. “Dream It. Build It. Grow It" is the slogan for the new music org and free festival, founded in 2019 and spearheaded by Jamaican-Canadian artist, Lexxicon. More infohere

Acclaimed Toronto singer/songwriter Lowell has now turned her hand to screenwriting. She and her mother Wendy Hill-Tout co-wrote Bloodthirsty, a new atmospheric horror film reportedly about “a pop singer whose primal urge to make music takes her to dark and beastly places." Lowell also helped compose the film's music, and it recently garnered two nominations from Canadian Screen Awards, for Best in Original Score - Michele Osis and Lowell and Best in Original Song - Evan Bogar, Justin Gray, and Lowell. Distributed by Raven Banner Releasing, the movie comes out via EST on iTunes on April 23, then, from May 18, as VOD on iTunes, Bell, Rogers, Shaw, TELUS, CineplexStore & VimeoOnDemand. 


– The International Indigenous Music Summit, taking place from June 8 -12, is launching a virtual edition this year. For this 3rd edition, the Summit will be broadcasting the event from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, ON, with all programming offered online, and open to everyone. The programming will highlight the relationships between land, creativity and identity. The Summit provides Indigenous artists in all musical genres with an International platform to advance their careers in a culturally appropriate and supportive environment. It will feature curated musical showcases, panel discussions, workshops, and ceremony. More info here  

– With the US and Europe now opening up for live shows ahead of Canada, bands are booking tours in those markets. Saskatchewan's bluegrass fave The Dead South has announced a 15-date Sept. US trek beginning Sept. 12, followed by extensive European touring, Nov. 2 to 21.

– Gene Champagne, drummer for The Killjoys, Teenage Head, and other Hamilton bands, is now off a ventilator and out of ICU after contracting Covid-19 recently. He faces a long recovery, and a line of merch whose sales will benefit him and his family has been launched. Check it out here


– Jazz at Lincoln Center and JazzTimes have announced that the fourth annual Jazz Congress will take place virtually on May 17-20. This year's online conference will feature interactive programs and performances designed to address the concerns and needs facing the global jazz community during this challenging, unprecedented time. Jazz Congress registration will be free of charge for all conference registrants. Donations are requested so that the conference can return to Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City in 2022. Info here  


DMX (Earl Simmons), a platinum-selling rapper whose first five albums all went to number one in America, died on April 9, a week after suffering a heart attack induced by a drug overdose. He was 50.

He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and suffered abuse from his mother and her boyfriends while growing up. After being ejected from school, he spent 18 months in a home for vulnerable children. Subsequently he occupied much of his time wandering the streets, drifting into robbery and petty crime.

He found a refuge in hip-hop and rap, working as a DJ and human beatbox, then began to develop his own rapping style. He took the name DMX from the Oberheim DMX digital drum machine.

DMX released his debut album It's Dark and Hell is Hot in 1998. His first five albums all went to number one in America making him one of the most successful (and richest) rappers of the early 2000s next to Eminem. His final major hit was 2003's X Gon' Give It To Ya. In all, he had 15 Hot 100 singles.

DMX had a long criminal record and served jail time for drugs, weapons, tax evasion, animal cruelty, resisting arrest, and other charges and convictions, stalling his career. In 2018, he served a prison term for tax fraud.

He also made a mark as an actor in such critical and commercial successes as Belly  and Romeo Must Die. Sources: LA Times, The Guardian, Noise11

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla
@anmollium / Anmol Raina

DIVINE (L) and Karan Aujla

Chart Beat

Karan Aujla & DIVINE Debut in Top 25 on Billboard Canadian Albums Chart

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE land the No. 22 spot on this week's Canadian Albums chart with their new collaborative release, 'Street Dreams.' On the Canadian Hot 100, Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em" ascends to No. 1, while Canadian pop artist Preston Pablo makes a debut.

B.C.-based Punjabi artist Karan Aujla and Indian rapper DIVINE are making moves together on Billboard's Canadian Albums chart this week, with their collaborative project, Street Dreams, debuting in the No. 22 spot.

The seven-track album, released Feb. 16, blends harder hip-hop and smooth R&B pop, the latter shining through especially on the Jonita Gandhi-assisted "Yaad." It's not Aujla's highest spot on the Albums chart — he reached No. 5 in 2023 with Making Memories, his collaboration with Canadian Punjabi artist Ikky — but it gives him some momentum going into his upcoming performance at the Juno Awards on Mar. 24, where he's nominated for TikTok Juno fan choice and breakthrough artist.

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