Music News Digest, Jan. 17, 2018

Jann Arden and Bob Rock will co-host and perform at the Junos Songwriters Circle, and the very funny Jessi Cruickshank returns as host of the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards. Also in the news are Canadian acts heading to SXSW, a Juno sold for charity, Chris Blackwell, Bob Marley songs, ImprovLab, and farewells to Edwin Hawkins, Myles Hunter, and Dolores O'Riordan.

Music News Digest, Jan. 17, 2018

By Kerry Doole

– Jann Arden and Bob Rock have been announced as co-hosts and performers at the 2018 Juno Songwriters’ Circle presented by SOCAN. The always popular event takes place on March 25 at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre. Other performers will be named next month. The Circle benefits MusiCounts and tix go on sale Friday.

Canadian Music Week (CMW) has named Jessi Cruickshank as the returning host of the 2018 Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards. The annual is set for May 10 at Rebel in Toronto. The cheeky wit of comedian/TV host Cruickshank (eTalk, The Goods) has placed her in demand for such industry event roles, including the 2015 CCMAs and 2016 Juno Gala Dinner and Awards.


Previously announced honorees to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the awards are: The Legendary TooTall (CHOM FM), Patti-Anne Tarlton (Ticketmaster), Jeff Craib (The Feldman Agency), and David Farrell (FYI Music). Tix on sale now here

– Austin's South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) has announced a list of 500 artists set to showcase at the annual shindig, running March 12-18 this year. Perusing the lineup, we detect 34 Canadian acts. Prominent names involved include Beams, Casper Skulls, the Dead South, Dear Rouge, Elephant Stone, Frigs, Lisa LeBlanc, Mauno, Michael Rault, Ori Dagan, Ought, Pierre Kwenders, Quique Escamilla, Said The Whale, Tasha the Amazon, and U.S. Girls. Check the whole list here

– So just how much is a Juno Award worth? We're not talking about the value of exposure and increased public and industry recognition, but rather the moolah you might get from selling the actual trophy.

In one rare recent example, the figure stands at $875. That is the amount raised at an auction to help benefit Goodwill, with the Juno in question being the one Errol Starr (Francis) won for his 1989 song "Angel," winner in the best R&B/Soul Recording category. Also receiving one of the trophies was Vern Zoller, a principal investor on Francis’s Temple of Love album, and it was this one that found its way into a donation bin at a Niagara Falls Goodwill thrift store last October. The store then put it up for auction, with the winning bid going to an anonymous Niagara collector. Source: Niagara Falls Review


– Island Records founder Chris Blackwell recently signed a $50M (US) deal with New York-based Primary Wave Music Publishing. It gives Primary Wave 80 percent of Blackwell's stake in two song catalogues, Bob Marley's songs and Blue Mountain Music, a publisher Blackwell created in 1962. Rights to Bob Marley songs were reportedly the prime goal of the deal. The power of the Bob Marley name remains potent. A Forbes list of the top-earning dead celebrities of 2017 placed him at No. 5, with an estimated $23M (US) income, primarily from family-branded audio products, coffee and cannabis.

In 2016, Primary Wave signed a $22M deal with Smokey Robinson for copyrights to his songs. Source: New York Times

– Ajay Heble, founder of the Guelph Jazz Festival, is also director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation. That organisation has received a $2.03M grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation for a 300-seat performance facility and equip it with the latest technology. Named ImprovLab, it will be built at the University of Guelph to house the work of the Institute, including music workshops and performances. "The University of Guelph is a world leader in improv studies,” Heble told Guelph Today. “We have a unique vision to work with festivals and social service organizations on collaboration."


Heble retired as artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival in 2016, after 23 years at the helm.



Edwin Hawkins, the gospel star best known for the crossover hit “Oh Happy Day,” died on Jan. 15, from pancreatic cancer. He was 74.

The group he led, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, had an international hit in 1969 with "Oh Happy Day," featuring his gospel arrangement of an old hymn. They won a 1970 Grammy for best soul gospel performance for that song, which was later reprised in the popular Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act. In 1970, the group backed Melanie on her top 10 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)."

Source: AP

Myles Hunter, vocalist and guitarist in Refugee, Michael Fury and Avalon, passed away on Dec. 20. Age 60.

Hunter began his career in Ottawa-based band Avalon in the mid-'70s and then became the lead vocalist and guitarist in Michael Fury. The group signed to Passport Records and released one album, Affairs In Babylon, before changing its name to Refugee. That album was re-released, followed by a 1987 recording, Burning from the Inside Out, featuring the rock radio hit "Survival In The Western World."

Hunter released a solo album, Northern Union, in 1990, then teamed up with Red Rider guitarist Kenny Greer as Hunter-Greer for 1994's Stories From Stoney’s Club & Grill. In later years, he became an
Anglican minister in Niagara on the Lake, ON. In his memory, donations can be made to Alzheimer Society Toronto, Music Project. Sources:,,

Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, died suddenly in London on Jan. 15. Age 46. The cause of death has not been announced.

The Irish band's 1993 debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, was a massive international success. It included such hit singles as "Linger" and "Dream," and went platinum in Canada and 5x platinum in the US. The follow-up 1994 release, No Need to Argue, fared even better, selling 5x platinum in Canada, 7x platinum in the US. It included another charting single, "Zombie."


The Cranberries were on hiatus from 2003 to 2009, then released two more albums, including 2017's Something Else. The group sold in excess of 40 million records over their career.

O'Riordan released two solo albums, 2007's Are You Listening? and 2009's No Baggage. She was also a member of the trio D.A.R.K., who released a debut album, Science Agrees, in September 2016

The Cranberries' planned international tour in 2017 was cut short in May as a result of O'Riordan's health issues. The singer was reportedly in London this month for a recording session.

In 1994, O'Riordan married Canadian Dan Burton, former tour manager for Duran Duran. The couple lived in Buckthorn, ON, for a long period with their two children and a child from Burton's previous relationship. They separated in 2014.


Fixing The News Business Means Learning To Think Differently (Guest Column)

Change is coming quickly to the news industry, and innovation has to come just as quickly.

This is the second part of a series of guest columnsseeking answers to the financial issues that have plagued Canadian news organizations.

My prescription for change is very clear. Stop trying to solve today's problems through yesterday's lens.

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