Music News Digest, May 25, 2020

The 2020 Canadian Songwriter Challenge is underway, Melanie Peterson (pictured) has a regular live stream, and Universal Honey’s debut is reissued. Also in the news are A2IM Indie Week, CIMA, Music BC, Evangeline Gentle, The Gord Downie Fund, Sierra Noble, DeeDee7, SaskMusic, Bob Dylan, Alberta Music, and farewell Mory Kanté and Bobby Digital.

Music News Digest, May 25, 2020

By Kerry Doole

Presented by BellMedia in tandem with Music BC and Creative BC and now in its sixth year, The 2020 Canadian Songwriter Challenge is underway in a new online format for emerging BC artists and songwriters. The top 15 teams for the #CSC2020 #AloneTogether challenge have shared their songs with the public, who voted on the entries. Those votes are in the hands of the judges, and the top 5 songs will be announced on June 1, with each team receiving $1K to record, mix, and master their song at an eligible BC studio of their choice.


–  Saskatoon-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter and actress Melanie Peterson is remaining active in pandemic days. She is promoting a new single, the aptly-entitled We Got This, the title cut from an upcoming EP. Peterson will be live-streaming from her FB music page every Sunday in June at 7 pm.

– Magic Basement was the debut release from Universal Honey, the band formed by Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck after they exited The Pursuit Of Happiness. It has now been reissued and is out via all streaming platforms. Sinclair informs us that the single Just Before Mary Goes will be released in June by Ace Records UK on an all-female power pop compilation.

A2IM Indie Week, held annually in New York City, is going virtual this year, from June 15-18. CIMA has purchased a group of conference badges for its members. Those interested in receiving a conference badge should contact Trisha Carter at

– Fast-rising Scottish-Canadian singer/songwriter Evangeline Gentle has just released a pair of new singles, You and I and Black is the Colour, out on Sonic Unyon. She describes the latter as “a traditional folk song that I first heard during my childhood growing up on the northeast coast of Scotland. My love for Celtic music persists, despite having moved to Canada at age 11.”  Both tracks were recorded by Luke Schindler at Toronto’s Revolution Recording.


– Bandcamp is giving 100% of digital & physical sales to artists & indie labels on Friday June 5. this initiative has proved popular with artists and fans.

– The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research was set up by the late Tragically Hip frontman to assist Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital. The hospital recently named brain cancer care Radiation oncologist Dr. Jay Detsky as the second Gord Downie Fellow in Brain Oncology. Learn more about the Fund and the work at Sunnybrook here

Sierra Noble is trying to get her Facebook page back after a hacker deleted it recently. The Winnipeg musician used FB to interact with fans and release new music during covid-19, so this has created a major problem, given that she accumulated more than 30K followers in the past 15 years. On the plus side, it did bring her exposure on CBC.

– Set for May 30, Walk Like a Refugee is a 24hr online telethon to support a refugee couple in Uganda. Organizer Elizabeth Bromstein has corralled some notable names to perform, including Chris Murphy (Sloan), Don Kerr (Communism), Amanda Martinez, Stand-up Comic/ CBC Radio host, Ali Hassan, a puppeteer, bellydancer, playwright, chef, and much more. Donation link here


– DeeDee7, an Ottawa band fronted by big-voiced singer DeeDee Butters (The PepTides), has released a new single, Made of Sound, from a forthcoming EP. Gerry Young is stickhandling this one.

– SaskMusic has been hosting live-streamed concerts from the province's artists throughout April and May on its Facebook page. Featured this week are The Northwest Kid (May 26), Last Birds (May 28), and Eliza Doyle (May 31).

– On June 4 (3-4 pm), Alberta Music is presenting an online workshop entitled Fostering A More Digital Economy For Music. The session, hosted by Cherie Hu, founder of the Water & Music newsletter, will dive into the importance of emerging digital business models for music beyond streaming and why all of these models have accelerated in growth and adoption amidst the pandemic.


Bob Dylan turned 79 yesterday (May 24). Anticipation is running high for the release of Rough and Rowdy Ways, a collection of new material out on June 19 via Columbia. Zimmy has been grabbing kudos for three recently issued tracks, Murder Most Foul, I Contain Multitudes, and False Prophet.

– Music BC will no longer be processing new artist or business travel grant applications “due to the uncertain nature of global travel restrictions in the near future. This will remain in effect until we receive clarity from various levels of government and national health authorities on the easing of restrictions.”


Mory Kanté, an African music star, died in Guinea on May 22, aged 70

Kanté was of one West Africa's best-known musicians, and he helped bring African music to world audiences with hits like Yéké Yéké.

Born in a famous family of "griots" - West African musicians and storytellers - he had been nicknamed "the electronic griot", and was known as a distinguished player of kora - a West African harp. Kanté started music at the age of just seven when he was sent to Mali to learn to play the kora.

In the 1970s, he joined Mali's legendary group the Rail Band of Bamako and performed alongside Salif Keita and became the lead singer after Keita left. His international success came in 1988 when he released his album Akwaba Beach, which includes Yéké Yéké. Millions of copies of Yéké Yéké were sold and Akwaba Beach became the best-selling African album of that time.


Tributes were paid by fellow musicians on Friday, including Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour who said he felt a huge void on learning of Kanté's death and called the late singer "a baobab of African culture." 

As a goodwill ambassador for international organisations like Unicef, the FAO, UNHCR, he was involved in various humanitarian causes in Africa and Eastern Europe. Source: BBC News

Bobby Digital (Robert Dixon), a noted Jamaican dancehall/reggae music producer, died on May 21, from a kidney-related illness. He was 59.

Jamaican Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, sated that “ “Bobby Digital was one of the most respected record producers of his time. He paid attention to detail and brought out the best in the artistes he worked with. He had a great work ethic and the studio was his playground. So strong was his influence that many upcoming artistes felt their only path to stardom was to record for Bobby Digital.

“He was one of the producers who came from a special mould akin to the likes of Coxsone Dodd, King Jammys and Jack Scorpio who could direct others into making hit beats and chart-topping songs. I am sure that all the stakeholders in the music industry would agree that we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.”


Bobby Digital began his career as a studio engineer with King Jammys in 1985 in the community of Waterhouse, where he was born. He struck out on his own in 1988, opening the Heatwave studio and forming the Digital B label, and thereafter a successful distribution company. In the 1980s, Dixon helped stylize the computerized phase of Jamaican music, as an accomplished digital engineer.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s he was the producer for works by Shabba Ranks, Cocoa Tea, Super Cat and Garnett Silk. He explored styles such as dancehall, lovers rock and roots reggae. He also formed his own sound system Heatwave.

In the late '90s he worked with artists such as Morgan Heritage, Sizzla, Anthony B and Richie Spice, and also produced more albums for Chezidek, Ras Shiloh, Louie Culture, LMS, Mikey Spice, and Norris Man. Sources: Jamaican Observer, Wikipedia

The Black Keys
Jim Herrington

The Black Keys

Music News

The Black Keys Cancel North American Leg of International Players Tour

The rock duo's 31-date arena trek was scheduled to launch in September and included a date at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 11, 2024.

The Black Keys have abruptly canceled their upcoming North American tour.

The 31-date arena trek — which was scheduled to launch Sept. 17 in Tulsa, Okla., and wrap Nov. 12 in Detroit — quietly disappeared from Ticketmaster’s website without explanation on Friday (May 24).

keep readingShow less