Music News Digest, Dec. 16, 2021

Canadian stars rally to support flood victims (pictured), the BC government expands grants to fests and fairs, and SING! announces a big name headliner. Also in the news are Triumph, Kellylee Evans, Brownman, Sultans of String, MMF Canada, JazzInToronto, and farewell Garth Dennis, Ken Kragen, and Joe Simon.

Music News Digest, Dec. 16, 2021

By Kerry Doole

A stellar cast of musical talent has signed up to perform at the Great Canadian Flood Relief concert, an online event to run on Dec. 19 at 2 pm Pacific time (6 p.m. Atlantic time) on the Great Canadian Flood Relief website and Facebook page. The lineup includes Shari Ulrich, Danny Michel, Odds, Alex Cuba, Lenny Gallant, Bill Henderson, Danny Michel, Shari Ulrich, Craig Cardiff, Dave Carroll, David Gogo, Erin Costelo, Harry Manx, James Keelaghan, Keonte Beals, Steve Dawson & Allison Russell, Matt Masters, Doug Cox & Shawn Hill, Paul Pigat, Quote The Raven, and Reid Jamieson. The benefit is designed to support recent  flood victims in BC, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Individuals are invited to donate money to help the Canadian Red Cross in its relief efforts.


– The BC government has added more money to its grant program to fund fairs, festivals and other events in the province to help tourism recovery. CP notes that "Melanie Mark, the minister of tourism, arts and culture, says Covid-19 and recent natural disasters have had devastating impacts on events and tourism, and expanding the program to nearly $30M is a way to help communities safely resume activities. The government will give one-time grants to cover as much as 20 percent of the event’s budget, up to $250K, for operational costs, health and safety measures, venue rental, marketing, wages and promotion. 

– The internationally-acclaimed vocal arts festival SING! will return to Toronto in hybrid form from May 27 through June 5. It has just announced a headlining show on June 4 by Take 6, the most-decorated (10 Grammys, 10 Dove awards) act in a cappella history. Early bird tix here are just $40. The SING! 2022 All-Access Pass ($200) is now available here.

– Earlier this week, Canadian rock band Triumph launched the Triumph Vault website. By accessing, fans will be able to discover artifacts from the band’s career beginning with a celebration of Triumph’s classic 1981 album, Allied Forces.  This inaugural collection will feature a selection of newly discovered items personally curated by Mike, Gil and Rik in collaboration with Definitive Authentic. Several pieces are partnered with new audio commentary directly from the band. 


Juno-winning jazz vocalist Kellylee Evans performs a Winter Song seasonal concert at 3030 Dundas in Toronto tonight (Dec. 16), presented by Hugh's Room Live. It is followed by shows in London (Dec. 17) and in her Ottawa hometown (Dec. 18). Recommended. Tix here

– This week, the Hotel Association of Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada both appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to discuss the importance of targeted support for pandemic-hit businesses. Amidst reports that Bill C2 (which contains emergency support funding) may not pass before Christmas, The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses has mobilized a letter-writing effort to press urgency on the Hill. For info on how you can assist, go here.

– Want something different from the traditional seasonal concert fare? "A truly insane modern jazz Christmas concert" is promised by Brownman's two Holiday Madness shows, at Hamilton's Staircase Theatre on Dec. 17 and Toronto's Supermarket, Dec. 18. Ace Toronto trumpeter/bandleader Brownman Ali and his Brownman Akoustic 4-Tet will put an offbeat spin on Christmas classics. If you're dying to hear Jingle Bells" in 7/8, Brubeck-style, or Silent Night as a funk ballad, this is for you. Tix info here and here.


– Toronto world music faves and multiple Juno nominees Sultans of String are showcasing their Billboard charting and New York Times-acclaimed Christmas Caravan show in their multi-camera Zoom Room on Dec 19, at 7 pm. A special UNHCR awareness/fundraising bash, it features special guests Rebecca Campbell, Fethi Nadjem, Donne Roberts & Yukiko Tsutsui, and Saskia Tomkins. Tix here. A suggested donation is $10, $1 of which will be donated to the SoS UN Refugee Agency fundraiser.


– A reminder that the MMF Canada virtual holiday party is set for today (Dec. 16), 4-6 pm EST. Members and friends are welcome. Register here 

– Digital collective JazzInToronto is supporting the Daily Bread Food Bank with a live-streamed concert on Dec. 20, from new music venue BSMT 254 (254 Lansdowne Avenue). Attendees are asked to donate non-perishable food items, while virtual viewers are encouraged to send-in monetary donations. The top-notch lineup includes Donné Roberts, Alana Bridgewater, Donovan Locke, Jim Clayton, Andrew Scott, Sean Stanley, Kyle Tarder-Stoll and JazzInToronto Co-Director Ori Dagan. To reserve your advance seat: email


 Rudolph ''Garth'' Dennis, founding member of famed reggae group Black Uhuru, died on Dec. 9, age 72, of complications from pneumonia. 

After an initial stint in Black Uhuru, Dennis joined The Wailing Souls for ten years before returning to Black Uhuru in the mid-1980s. He also recorded as a solo artist.

Black Uhuru won the inaugural Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording for the album Anthem in 1984.

He formed Black Uhuru in 1972 with Don Carlos and Duckie Simpson. After the group's early releases Dennis left, going on to join the Wailing Souls in the mid-1970s, staying with them for a decade during their successful Channel One era.

 After a period in the US, Dennis returned to Jamaica to rejoin the re-formed original lineup of Black Uhuru. With Black Uhuru, Dennis recorded the Grammy-nominated 1991 album Now and three further albums (along with dub versions). In 2008 Dennis returned to the Wailing Souls. His first solo album, Trenchtown 19 3rd Street, which featured Sly Dunbar and Carlton Davis, was released in 2015. Sources: Jamaica Observer, Wikipedia


– Ken Kragen, We Are the World organizer and manager for Kenny Rogers, the Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, Olivia Newton-John, Trisha Yearwood, and more, died on Dec. 14, age 85.

Kragen, a prolific manager and producer in entertainment, was a central organizer behind the 1985 charity single We Are the World. He was a devoted humanitarian, also contributing to initiatives like Hands Across America and NetAid. Kragen received the United Nations’ peace medal for his efforts.

He was also a frequent producer on film and television projects, including CBS’ Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, the Kenny Rogers’ series of Gambler movies and the 2004 feature. The 12 Dogs of Christmas.

Over his career, Kragen received several Emmy nominations, two MTV awards, an American Music Award and a manager of the year award from the Conference of Professional Managers. He was elected president of both The Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music, the only individual to ever be elected as leader of both organizations. 

Read full obits at Variety and The Hollywood Reporter

– Joe Simon, a Grammy-winning R&B singer whose hits included 1969’s The Chokin’ Kind” and 1972’s Power of Love and was sampled in OutKast’s So Fresh, So Clean and other hip-hop classics, died Dec. 13, age 85.


Born in Simmesport, La., Simon hated picking cotton and moved to LA to make it as a singer. He wrote 20 to 30 songs daily and developed his voice to the point that a label owner paid him $1,100 to record four songs written by others. He brought in local musicians including future funk greats Sly Stone and Larry Graham to play on 1964’s My Adorable One, which became Simon’s breakthrough hit. 

Simon’s career moved quickly, as he landed three No. 1s and 14 top 10s on what is now called the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and a best R&B vocal performance, male Grammy for The Chokin’ Kind. During his peak hitmaking period, Simon started his own indie labels, Spring and Posse, signing funk stars such as Millie Jackson and Fatback Band. He was known as “The Mouth of the South,” compared to Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. 

In 1983, Simon became an ordained minister after walking away from secular music.

Read a full obit atBillboard

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Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Kendrick Lamar performs onstage during day three of Rolling Loud Miami 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium on July 24, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla.


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