Music News Digest, April 3, 2019

Rising country star Kalsey Kulyk(pictured) signs to Sakamoto Agency, Indigenous Music Awards face a boycott, and a documentary portrait of Stiv Bators. Also in the news: Kevin Hearn, neon art, Tory Lanez, Nipsey Hussle, Justin Wright, Ian Thomas, Irish Mythen, Céline Dion, and farewells to Shahnaz Rahmatullah and Patricia Rolston. Videos added for your enjoyment.

Music News Digest, April 3, 2019

By Kerry Doole

Sakamoto Agency has signed Kalsey Kulyk to its international roster. The Canadian singer/songwriter has a new EP set for release this year through ole Label Group/Red Dot and is making waves with her single “More Time” that is airing on CMT. She opens shows for The Washboard Union in Lloydminster, SK, May 4, and Whitecap, SK, May 5.

– A group of Inuit musicians that includes Polaris Prize winner Tanya Tagaq has announced they are boycotting the Indigenous Music Awards, citing cultural appropriation by the artist Cikwes as the reason. An IMA nominee for Best Folk Album, Cikwes is a First Nations singer/songwriter who dabbles in throat singing, a form the Inuit artists feel should not be performed by non-Inuit Indigenous musicians. The IMAs will be held May 17 in Winnipeg.


–  Directed by Jamie KastnerThere Are No Fakes is a documentary that probes the largest art fraud scam in Canadian history. Central to the story is Barenaked Ladies multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn, who discovers that a painting he bought by famed Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau may not be authentic. Hearn's quest to discover the truth and a subsequent court case are probed in the film. Chatting at the SOCAN gala on Monday, Hearn told FYI that the film is "pretty dark and weird." Its world premiere, as part of the Hot Docs fest in Toronto, is on April 29 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, with a repeat screening on May 1.

–  Friar's Music Museum in Toronto has announced the launch of #NeonMuseumTO. Showcasing the glories of neon signage, it runs April 12-14 at JunctionHouse 2720 Dundas St West. It is curated by Downtown Yonge BIA and Neon Demon Studio, in partnership with Slate Asset Management.

– Denmark's rising teen star Chris Burton has partnered with Canadian hip-hop artist and Grammy nominee Tory Lanez on a new single titled “What Sucks About Love." The track follows Burton’s debut single “Love Letters” which has over 3 million streams.


–  Tributes to slain rapper and songwriter Nipsey Hussle have been flowing freely since the Grammy nominee was shot and killed in LA on Sunday. Those paying homage include Drake, J. Cole, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, and Atlantic Records. Source:MBW

–  Montreal cellist and composer Justin Wright releases debut album Music For Staying Warm on April 5 on Sleepless Records. The night before,  his Toronto debut is at Burdock, an early show. Wright performed on Jeremy Dutcher’s Polaris-winning album and has opened for Colin Stetson, Mount Eerie, Hauschka, and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.

–  Hit singer/songwriter/author Ian Thomas hosts a new series at the Westdale Theatre in Hamilton, ON, entitled Creative Soul. It is described as part Ted Talk, part interview, and part performance, liberally dosed with humour and it will be filmed in front of an audience. The first three guests are Sylvia Tyson (April 25), Murray McLauchlan (May 16), and Dan Hill (June 23).

–  Stiv: No Compromise No Regrets is a new film doco chronicling the life and times of punk legend Stiv Bators (The Dead Boys, The Lords of The New Church). It has its Toronto premiere on May 17 and 18 at Cinecycle, featuring a post-screening Q&A with Cynthia Ross (The 'B' Girls and a long-time girlfriend of Bators) and David Quinton-Steinberg (good friend and drummer). The film is directed by punk documentarian Danny Garcia who has previously profiled the Clash, Johnny Thunders, and Sid and Nancy. A soundtrack comes out on vinyl on Record Store Day, with the CD and DVD to follow on June 7 from MVD Canada.


–  Acclaimed East Coast folk artist Irish Mythen has signed with the UK live music booking agency Free Trade, joining the likes of Wilco, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, Buffy Saint-Marie, The Milk Carton Kids on the roster. A 20+ date international tour begins on April 9 in Cronulla, Australia, and includes some major festivals. A new album, Little Bones, comes out on Myth Music April 12.


–  L’Oréal Paris Canada has named Céline Dion as the brand’s newest spokeswoman. In a press release, Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, Global Brand President, states "Céline Dion is a woman of innate self-worth – following her heart to achieve success, she challenges stereotypes and trailblazes the path for so many other women – and fully embodies our brand mission of ‘Because I’m Worth It.'" 

– Toronto’s Festival of Beer adds a second stage this year with a strong lineup of country acts. Blackie Jackett Jr plays July 26, Brett Kissel, July 27, and the HunterBrothers on Sunday, July 28. The festival is at Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place.  


Shahnaz Rahmatullah, a renowned South Asian singer, popularly known as Shahnaz Begum, passed away in Bangladesh on March 24 after suffering a heart attack. She was 67.

Her career spanned five decades and encompassed a number of genres, particularly national songs, before her retirement, seven years ago. Rahmatullah emerged as a singer in Dhaka in the mid-1960s, beginning her career in radio at the age of 10. She sang many patriotic songs during the liberation war of the 1970s.

In 1992, Rahmatullah was awarded the Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh.

In 2006, Shahnaz's four songs were ranked on BBC's list of top 20 greatest Bengali songs of all time. Source: Al Jazeera

Patricia Rolston, concert pianist and founder of the Mohawk College faculty of music in Hamilton, ON, died March 11 in her native Vancouver, at the age of 89 after suffering a stroke.


Rolston moved to Hamilton in 1960 with her husband, Lee Hepner, who held a teaching position with McMaster University's music department and would go on to found the McMaster Symphony Orchestra.

In the mid-'70s, Rolston, a concert pianist who performed in the United States, Canada and Europe, began lobbying the Mohawk College administration to create a music program.

In 1977, she was named the founding chair of the Mohawk College Faculty of Applied Music, a position she held until 1989. The program was unique in Canada, balancing classical and jazz as well as offering Canada's first Business of Music course.

She was also founding conductor of the 100-voice Mohawk College Singers and Hamilton's 1986 woman of the year. Her son Darcy Hepner, an accomplished jazz musician, has taught at Mohawk in the faculty his mother founded since 2005.

Following her husband's death, Rolston returned to British Columbia in 1989 to become principal of the Richmond Music School. She held that position until announcing her retirement in June 2018, at the age of 88. Source: Hamilton Spectator



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