Music News Digest, Feb. 21, 2020

Carter Chiasson (pictured) is the 2020 MusiCounts Teacher of the Year, Marie-Mai is named Canadian ambassador for Record Store Day, and Fallsview Casino Resort opens a new 5,000 seat entertainment centre. Others making news include Pye Dubois, Luke McMaster, Outside Looking In, The Weeknd, Make Music Matter, Evangeline Gentle, Billie Eilish, and Wade O Brown.

Music News Digest, Feb. 21, 2020

By FYI Staff

MusiCounts has announced that Nova Scotia teacher Carter Chiasson is this year's recipient of the org'sTeacher of the Year Award.  Chiasson worked with student Emma Stevens to produce a video of her singing Blackbird by the Beatles in her native Mi'kmaq language, and it became an international viral hit, leading her to be invited to perform for Barack Obama recently. Chiasson will receive $10K cash, a significant contribution to his school’s music program, a crystal statuette based on the Juno Award design, and is to be honoured at the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards on March 14.


Kim Mitchell’s induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame will be accompanied by a similar induction acknowledgement to Mitchell and Max Webster’s longstanding lyricist Pye Dubois (born Paul Woods). The Toronto resident, who also shares a few credits with Rush, has forever been more comfortable out of the limelight and presumably enjoying the benefits that come with being well-heeled and anonymous. He is one of a few writers who have enjoyed this duality, the most obvious being Elton John’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin. There is also Pino Tome, a non de plume for a lyricist who was played an integral part in writing some of Klaatu’s best-known songs. And, of course, Keith Reid, the songwriter who wrote the lyrics for every Procol Harum song and has rarely ever had his picture snapped, or taken an interview.

– Tegan and Sara Quin guest on W5, Saturday at 7 pm. ET. The duo tells Avery Haines that it wasn’t easy growing up gay in Calgary and that it was doubly so identical twins.

– A 10-episodic TV adaptation of the cult classic High Fidelity is now available to stream on the Starz channel.

– Nobody is Kidding about this big news: pop star Ariana Grande is guest-starring on Jim Carrey's Showtime comedy Kidding, which airs back-to-back new episodes on Sunday, starting at 10 p.m.


– Singer/songwriter Marie-Mai has been named this year's Canadian ambassador for Record Store Day

. After picking Nova Scotia rock band The Trews as ambassadors in 2019 (US ambassadors have included Pearl Jam and Metallica), the organizers of RSD asked Marie-Mai to become the first female and first Quebec artist to assume this role. The 13th edition of RSD is on April 18. For the occasion, Mai is releasing a numbered vinyl reprint of her latest album Elle et Moi on orange vinyl.

–Via Instagram, The Weeknd has just given March 20 as the release date for his next album, After Hours. Expect at least 13 tracks.

– On Feb. 7, blue-eyed soul singer Luke McMaster released Songs of Smokey, a tribute to Smokey Robinson's most beloved Motown hits. The timing is fitting, as Robinson turned 80 on Feb. 19. Here’s a taste of the album.

– Fallsview Casino Resort has announced the spring line-up for the new 5,000 seat entertainment centre in Niagara Falls. Brad Paisley is listed as the first performer to take the stage, on April 2, while other big names on the sked include Alison Krauss, Of Monsters and Men, REO Speedwagon, Dierks Bentley, ZZ Top with Cheap Trick, Kesha, and Paul Anka.


– Outside Looking In, a national organization that helps Indigenous youth through the art of dance, has announced actress Tamara Podemski as host of the 13th Annual Outside Looking In Gala on May 6 at Toronto’s Meridian Hall. Former member of A Tribe Called Red, DJ Shub (Dan General) will perform.

– Live Nation has announced the lineup for the 2020 Burnaby Roots + Blues Festival, set for Aug 7 and 8 at Deer Lake Park. Notables named include Brandi Carlile, Steve Earle & the Dukes, St Paul and the Broken Bones, Colter Wall, Black Pumas, Son Little, Amigo the Devil, and Jeremie Albino. Tickets are now on sale here 


– Ottawa-based non-profit Make Music Matter has announced the expansion of its Healing in Harmony program to the conflict-ridden Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a joint project with World Vision Canada. A funding agreement of C$1 million was signed this week by the two orgs as part of the Equality for Girls’ Access to Learning (EGAL) project for which World Vision has received a total of C$7 million from Global Affairs Canada. The aim is to remove barriers to quality education for girls and young women who are disproportionately denied access to learning opportunities.

– Scots-born, Ontario-based singer/songwriter Evangeline Gentle has made a splash after recently signing with Sonic Unyon. A recent UK debut went well, and Gentle's debut album gets released internationally on April 24. A Toronto Dakota Tavern show is set for Feb. 22. Recommended.

– By most accounts, the clear highlight of the Brit Awards in London earlier this week was Billie Eilish’s performance of the new James Bond theme, No Time To Die. Here it is.

– The owner of popular TO music venue The Orbit Room, Tim Notter presents a celebration of local singer Wade O Brown's 50th birthday in the form of a concert at Revival on March 1 (an early show). Performers will include KC Roberts. Tix here / WADO50

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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