Music News Digest, May 27, 2021
Justin Bieber (pictured) will play the Junos, The Weeknd and Drake score at the Billboard Music Awards, and an anti-racism pledge for the Canadian music industry. Also making news are Chi Pig, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, CIMA, Music Publishers Canada, Joe Coughlin, Elliott BROOD, Discogs, Reid Zoé, and farewell Kathryn Moses, Frank Wright, James Harman, and Roger Hawkins.
By Kerry Doole
The fast-approaching 50th Annual Juno Awards Broadcast just announced a shot of serious star power via word from CARAS that global pop superstar Justin Bieber will perform on the show. The seven-time Juno winner is among this year’s top nominees with five nods, including Juno Fan Choice Presented by Freedom Mobile. This marks Bieber's first appearance at the Junos since 2010. The superstar has been nominated for 27 Juno Awards throughout his career. His latest album, Justice, has surpassed 5 billion global streams since its release in March. The 2021 Juno Awards will be broadcast nationwide June 6 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBC TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music, CBC Listen, globally on cbcmusic.ca/junos and live-streamed on CBC Music’s TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages.
– Two Canadian superstars, The Weeknd and Drake, triumphed at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards last Sunday night. The Weeknd scored the most wins of the night, with 10, from a total of 16 nominations. The honours included Top Artist, Top Male Artist, Top Hot 100 song for Blinding Lights, and Top R&B album for After Hours. “I wanna take this opportunity to thank you, my parents,” he said at the event, held outside the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. “I am the man I am today because of you. And thank you to my fans, of course. I do not take this for granted.” He also performed on the show.
Not to be outdone, Drake was named Artist of the Decade at the ceremony, extending his record as the most decorated winner in the history of the awards show to 29 wins. He accepted the honour alongside his 3-year-old son, Adonis, stating “I wanna dedicate this award to my friends, to my long-time collaborators … to my beautiful family, and to you,” looking to Adonis and picking him up to kiss him. Justin Bieber had four nominations, but was shut out. See a full list of winners here. Sources: AP, Billboard
– The East Coast Music Association has just announced the online show schedule for the 2021 ECMA Festival and Conference. This encompasses the 2021 East Coast Music Awards Show presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada (June 10), the subsequent Music & Industry Awards presented by TD (June 13), and a number of showcases and events from June 9-13. All events will be presented free and online, via the ECMA's Facebook and Youtube channels. More information is available here.
– On June 2, the 1-year anniversary of Blackout Tuesday, the viral global action to protest anti-Black racism, BDRB (Breaking Down Racial Barriers) joins with CIMA (Canadian Independent Music Association) and ADVANCE (Canada's Black Music Business Collective) to present a virtual declaration signing event for music industry leaders to make public their commitment to anti-Black racism.
The event will include speakers Andrew Cash (CIMA), Keziah Myers (ADVANCE), Ian Andre Espinet and David "Click" Cox (Co-founders of, BDRB), Shauna de Cartier(Six Shooter Records), Steve Kane (Warner Music), and Erin Benjamin (Canadian Live Music Association). Performing will be Jully Black and Shantel May. Register here.
– Music Publishers Canada has announced the 10 participants of its Women in the Studio National Accelerator 2021, which advances the career development of talented producer-songwriters from across Canada. Participants will gain valuable insights from mentors and industry experts for the duration of the program starting with virtual sessions in June through to Jan. 2022. The program participants are: Ava Kay, DJ Killa-Jewel (Julie Fainer), Elisa Pangsaeng, Lana Winterhalt, Mour (Cassandra Zingone), OBUXUM (Muxubo Mohamed), Sadé Awele (Folasade Akinbami), Sarah MacDougall, Sierra Noble, and Steph Copeland. Biographies for all 2021 participants are available here. The program is supported by the RBC Emerging Artist Project, FACTOR/Government of Canada, and Ontario Creates.
– Edmonton punk rock hero Chi Pig (SNFU) is to be celebrated with a giant mural on his hometown's Whyte Avenue, one meant to be finished in time for the first anniversary of his death, July 16. Crowd- and Edmonton Arts Council-supported muralists Lacey Jane and Layla Folkmann will set acrylic paint to brick in a piece they’re calling Larger Than Life, filling the entire east side of The Buckingham. Source: Edmonton Journal
– CIMA, in partnership with Music Publishers Canada, is hosting a one-on-one speed meeting session with invited music supervisors on May 27. Within this partnership, CIMA will be providing 20 free registrations to members. Speed meetings will take place on the B2B2GO platform, 10 am-5 pm EST. Spaces are very limited and members are encouraged to register ASAP.. Any questions, contact email@example.com.
– Alberta-raised Carolyn Dawn Johnson is one of the Nashville-based hit country songwriters participating in a live-streamed event to benefit several charities, including two in Alberta. 97 South Song Sessions’ Hope Springs comprises an hour of storytelling and performances on June 4, streaming from South X Sea Studios in Nashville at 8 pm MT. Other writers featured include Tim Nichols, Jeff Trott, and Wynn Varble. The two Alberta-based charity recipients are Zero Hungry Kids and the Gord Bamford Foundation. Tickets and donation info here. Source: Calgary Herald
– Acclaimed jazz vocalist Joe Coughlin has released a digitally re-mastered reissue of his album Debut, 40 years after its original appearance. Elite players on the record include Bernie Senensky, Don Thompson, Ed Bickert, and Terry Clarke, with arrangements by Rick Wilkins. The remastering was done at Abbey Road. Of note: The original album was produced by Eleanor Sniderman on her Aquitaine label. More info here.
– Hamilton-based roots rockers Elliott BROOD have just served up a fresh cover of Del Shannon's 1960's hit Runaway. Stream it here. The band has also put a 60's style spin on the latest edition of Six Shooter Records' The Horizon Line playlist. Perfect for summer patio listening.
– MacKenzie Porter's international hit single These Days continues to make waves around the world. It has just reached #1 on the Australian country radio charts, making Porter the first Canadian artist in 16 years to hit #1 on Australia's Country Hot 50 chart following in the footsteps of Shania Twain. First released in 2019, the track has gone platinum, while a remixed version also grabbed success (combined, the two have amassed over 121M global artist streams to date). Porter is also nominated for a Juno this year.
– Discogs, described as the world’s leading music Database, Marketplace and Community, reached a significant milestone when users surpassed the 500M music releases added to their collections earlier this month. The contributing Community also surpassed 14M releases recorded in the database. Discogs recently surveyed over 10,000 members of the Community to understand what their music collections say about them. Read the results in Anatomy of a Record Collector here.
– In a rescheduled date, Toronto roots rockers The ARC Sound will play two sets (7.15 and 8.45 pm) at The Horseshoe Tavern on Aug. 6. Limited social distance seating is available, and all prudent health and safety rules apply. Tix here.
– The line up for the May 31 Music Mondays presented by The City of Hamilton comprises Los Chukos, The Barettas, and Boxcar Ben. More info here.
– Toronto singer-songwriter Reid Zoé's debut EP Shed My Skin comes out on June 4. Earlier this month she released the second single off the EP, entitled When I Go (below). She is also one-third of folk group Sleeping Bees.
Kathryn Moses, an acclaimed Toronto-based jazz musician, vocalist, bandleader and composer, passed away in mid-May, after a short illness, age 77. The news was shared on social media by her friend and colleague Rosemary Galloway, and tributes from prominent Toronto musicians soon poured in.
Moses was born and raised in Oklahoma. She was already a promising classical flutist when she began to play with the Oklahoma Symphony Orchestra at just 20 years old, but, four years later, moved to Canada to be with her husband and fellow musician, trumpeter Ted Moses (he passed away in 2020).
Her musical career quickly took off in Toronto as she became immersed in the city’s vibrant jazz and folk scene, notably recording and playing with the likes of Bruce Cockburn and Murray McLauchlan. She originally played in the Ted Moses Quintet led by her husband, but in 1975, launched her own successful Quartet and Quintet.
In 1976, Moses won the first-ever Canada Council Award for Best Jazz Recording of the Year for her self-titled CBC recording.
Moses performed with both The National Ballet and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestras, recorded widely on albums by dozens of other artists, and composed and played on hundreds of film scores.
In 1992, her composition for the Genie Award-winning documentary Forbidden Love, her first film score, won her international acclaim as a film composer. Other film score credits included Night Canvas, Skin Deep, and Motherland: Tales of Wonder.
Another Toronto peer, jazz pianist and composer Fern Lindzon, posted an eloquent tribute on her blog. She wrote that "Kathryn is one of the reasons I play jazz. While on my way to spending the rest of my life in a library as a musicologist, I accidentally stepped into a jazz club and my life changed instantaneously. Kathryn Moses, Ted Moses, Lorne Lofsky… These were the musicians that made me think, 'if this is what jazz is, this is what I want to be doing.' Kathryn started as an inspiration and later became a colleague and friend. Women like Kathryn, Rosemary Galloway, Jane Fair, Nancy Walker, Lisa Kaplan, and Jo Sergeant made it possible for me to imagine that I too, could play jazz. These powerful women paved the way in the male-dominated world of jazz and they were my role models."
Rosemary Galloway posted that "those of you who knew her will remember a fine musician and a happy personality, full of fun. I will miss speaking to her, laughing with her and her music."
Sources: Canadian Jazz Archive, Rosemary Galloway, Fern Lindzon
Frank Wright, a vibraphonist and well-loved mainstay of Toronto’s jazz scene, died on May 16, age 92, due to complications related to Covid-19, according to Toronto jazz advocate and publicist Fay Olson.
Beginning his career as a regular performer on the city's after-hours club circuit in the ’50s, Wright appeared regularly with clarinetist Henry Cuesta at Toronto’s Bourbon Street and toured with him to California jazz festivals. He was also a frequent performer with Florida’s Garden Avenue Seven on tour across the U.S.
Wright went on to become one of Canada’s most highly respected jazz musicians. He worked with several of the country’s most celebrated jazz artists, performing at major festivals and stages as renowned as Carnegie Hall.
“This is a big loss for the jazz community in Toronto,” said JAZZ.FM91 host Heather Bambrick. “We’ve lost a fantastic musician, and even more importantly, one the kindest, most gentle and sweetest of men.”
In the mid-’80s, Wright formed a quartet with drummer Archie Alleyne, and they were often featured at the famous George’s Spaghetti House. Throughout his career, he worked with celebrated names including Joe Williams, Norm Amadio, Jim Galloway, Rob McConnell and Peter Appleyard.
Wright was a featured soloist in the Bob DeAngelis Champagne Symphony during their internationally renowned Benny Goodman Tribute concerts, including a triumphant performance at Carnegie Hall in 2008. Wright’s trios and quartets frequently appeared at major Canadian jazz festivals. He even played for Prince Philip in a private performance during one of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s visits to Toronto.
Later in his career, Wright was the leader of the hard-swinging Canadian Jazz Quartet, the ever-evolving group of elite musicians formed by Gary Benson in 1987. Playing with guitarist Ted Quinlan, bassist Pat Collins and drummer Don Vickery, Wright upheld “the standard of excellence in jazz in Canada.”
James Gary Harman, an American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter, died on May 23, age 74.
In 1962, the Alabama-born Harman relocated to Panama City, Florida, where he played in many rhythm and blues bands, of which the Icehouse Blues Band was the last. Earl Caldwell, the manager of the Swinging Medallions, signed Harman to a recording contract. In 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia, Harman recorded the first of nine early singles, which were variously released on five different record labels.
Harman performed as a blues harmonica player and singer in Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere before moving to southern California in the 1970s. There, his Icehouse Blues Band played alongside many blues greats.
In 1977 he formed the James Harman Band. Over the years the band's lineup has included Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman, who left in 1978 to form the Blasters, Canadian Gene Taylor (The Blasters, Fabulous Thunderbirds), Kid Ramos, and Hollywood Fats. On Facebook, Phil and Dave Alvin remembered Harman as "a brilliant blues harmonica virtuoso who could also be a hilariously entertaining yarn spinner, a fast talking old school hustler, a tough yet supportive band leader/musical teacher and a generous friend."
Harman became known as a skilled, reliable musician, whether for a backing band or leading his own ensemble. His band recorded several albums during the 1980s, before settling in 1990 at Black Top Records.
Numerous songs by Harman have been used in films and on television, including Kiss of Fire (from the album Those Dangerous Gentlemen), used for the soundtrack of The Accused. Harman has received several W. C. Handy Blues Award nominations, for songs on his own releases and on other artists' albums. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and received an award for Best Blues Album of the Year from Real Blues magazine.
In 2003 Harman contributed to the ZZ Top album Mescalero, on the song Que Lastima and, in 2012, on La Futura, on the song Heartache In Blue. Bonetime, his first studio album in over 12 years, was released in 2015, and Fineprint followed in 2018. Both those albums were released on Canadian independent blues label Electro-Fi. Sources: Wikipedia, Raoul Bhaneja
– Roger Hawkins, a drummer, co-founder of Muscle Shoals Sound studio. and member of famed sessioneers The Swampers, died on May 20, age 75. He had been in ill-health with COPD and other ailments.
Hawkins was the often-uncredited rhythmic driving force behind dozens of R&B and rock hits of the 1960s and 1970s, including Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman, Aretha Franklin’s Respect and Chain of Fools, the Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There, Wilson Pickett's Land of 1000 Dances and Mustang Sally, and Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock & Roll.
As told in the 2013 Muscle Shoals documentary film, Hawkins and fellow Swampers David Hood, Barry Beckett, and Jimmy Johnson parted ways with FAME’s legendary owner/producer Rick Hall in 1969, and founded their own studio, Muscle Shoals Sound, just minutes away in Sheffield, Alabama. Muscle Shoals Sound produced some of the most enduring music recordings ever. The Rolling Stones recorded Wild Horses there, it’s where Staple Singers cut I’ll Take You There, and, more recently, The Black Keys cut their breakthrough album Brothers there.
Hawkins worked extensively with English rock band Traffic and singer Jim Capaldi in the early '70s. Sources: Washington Post, AL.com