Music News Digest, Oct. 1 2020

The 2020 Latin Grammy nominations feature Alex Cuba (pictured) and Lido Pimienta, Juno Award submissions are now open, and Louis O’Reilly reboots On Ramp. Others in the news include Cory Marks, Kiwi Jr., The Chesterfield, Bandzoogle, TSO, The Corral, CIMA, Eamon McGrath, Michael Kaeshammer, Purity Ring, MMF Canada, Hugh Syme, Plants and Animals, and farewell to Helen Reddy, Mac Davis, and Max Merritt.

Music News Digest, Oct. 1 2020

By Kerry Doole

The 2020 Latin Grammy award nominations have been announced, and much-decorated Cuban-Canadian singer/songwriter Alex Cuba has earned two nods for his 2019 album Sublime. It is up for Singer/Songwriter Album of the Year and Best Engineered Album, with fellow Canadians John 'Beetle' Bailey (a recent Juno winner) and Harry Hess named for the latter nom.

In 2010, Cuba won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. He has also earned three nominations for Best Latin Pop Album at the main Grammys: in 2010 for Alex Cuba, in 2015 for Healer, and in 2017 for Lo Único Constante. He has won two Juno Awards for World Music Album of the Year: in 2006 for Humo de Tabaco, and in 2008 for Agua del Pozo. In 2010 he won the Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. Another Canadian nominee is Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta, cited for Best Alternative Album, for Miss Colombia. See the complete 2020 Latin Grammys nominees list here.


– The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) has announced that the 2021 Juno Awards Submissions powered by TD are open from today (Oct. 1) to Nov. 6 at To be considered for nomination for the 2021 Junos, national music release dates must fall between the eligibility period of Sept. 1, 2019, and Nov. 6, 2020. Oct. 16 is the deadline for discounted early-bird submission. More info here.

– Award-winning manager Louis O’Reilly has reformed On Ramp Entertainment, his own artist management company, with longtime clients Brett Kissel and Cory Marks as his core artists. O’Reilly signed Kissel and Marks to management deals and launched their careers before partnering with Jim Cressman and Invictus Entertainment for the past six years. Cressman and O’Reilly formed a dynamic duo, winning CCMA Management Company of the Year the past six years. Moving forward Kissel and Marks will be managed under On Ramp Entertainment with Cressman providing agency and co-management support. O'Reilly can be reached at


Kissel has just won four more CCMA Awards and this week announced he has signed with Nashville-based label Verge Records. Cory Marks has a hit with his first single Outlaws and Outsiders (featuring Travis Tritt, Ivan Moody, and Mick Mars). It immediately climbed to #1 in Canada on the iTunes Country Songs chart, top 5 in the UK and Australia, and #8 in the USA. The song is closing in on 20M streams and the music video has surpassed 20M views.

– Toronto rock band Kiwi Jr. has signed to noted US indie label Sub Pop Records for the international release of a sophomore album in 2021. It will come out domestically on the group’s own imprint, Kiwi Club. A timely new track and video, Undecided Voters, has just come out.

– The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has announced a new video interview series called The Chesterfield, hosted by songwriter and performance artist iskwē and former Toronto Star music scribe Ben Rayner. It premieres Oct. 6, on YouTube, and runs weekly for 12 episodes. In each 15-minute episode, guests will discuss their favourite book, film, record, painting or other Canadian creation and discuss the importance of appreciating our own Canadian culture. Guests in the debut season include Jann Arden, Michael de Adder, Ali Hassan, Max Kerman of Arkells, Jeff Lemire, Catherine MacLellan, Chris Murphy of Sloan, Alanis Obomsawin, Fred Penner, and Strombo.


– Musician website and e-commerce platform Bandzoogle has launched new integrated options for videos and live streams to help independent musicians maximize control and revenue. Artists can now embed live and pre-recorded videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitch, and Crowdcast directly to their artist websites. They can also integrate video into the Tip Jar donations feature, offering a pre-recorded message or a live stream video. Fans can then send tips during a live stream performance. Artists using the fan subscription model through Bandzoogle can reward certain levels of subscribers with access to live and pre-recorded video. More info here 


– On Oct. 4 at 7 pm ET, Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and Principal Cellist Joseph Johnson will perform a program of violin and cello duets including selections from Reinhold Gliere, Alice Hong, Zoltan Kodaly and Handel-Halvorsen. The live-stream on the Canzona Chamber Players'Youtube channel is in support of the St. Michael's Hospital Foundation's Covid19 Courage Fund. 

– Oshawa bar and country music venue The Corral has closed. A Facebook post from the owners explained that "after an amazing 37-year run, the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as exorbitant insurance costs, have forced us to make this difficult decision." Canadian country stars performing there have included Terri Clark, Johnny Reid, Emerson Drive, James Barker Band, Jason McCoy & the Road Hammers, Crystal Shawanda, The Wilkinsons and many more.

– Canadian hard rock veterans Coney Hatch play their first-ever pay-per-view web concert on Oct 3. The band (lead vocalist and guitarist Carl Dixon, vocalist and bassist Andy Curran, guitarist Sean Kelly, and drummer Dave Ketchum) returns to the legendary El Mocambo in Toronto for the first time since 1983. The show will be recorded for a future release on vinyl and CD which also marks the first-ever Coney Hatch live record release. Tix here

– Today (Oct. 1, 2 pm– 3:10 pm EST) CIMA presents a free Zoom webinar entitled Production in a Pandemic Webinar, one that explores what engineers/producers are doing to adapt in the pandemic and get high-level results. Hosted by the dynamic production team of Peter Cardinali and John ‘Beetle Bailey, the session features panellists Eric Ratz, George Seara, Annelise Noronha, and Jeff Dalziel. Register here.


– Super Early Bird tickets for this year's Indie Week are on sale now here, until Oct. 5. Taking place virtually for the first time ever, the Indie Week festival and conference focuses on cross-continental connections, music industry education, as well as one-on-one B2B opportunities. 

– The Kay Meek Arts Centre helping to bring back live music in Metro Vancouver, with live audience concerts by BC musicians Veda Hille and Michael Kaeshammer. Jazz vocalist/pianist Michael Kaeshammer plays Oct 14 and 15, with Hille will perform songs and stories from her 30-year career on Oct. 22. Tix and info here

– Toronto punk-folk troubadour Eamon McGrath has been kept off the road, but he has not been idle. This week ECW Press has published his second book, Here Goes Nothing, described in a blurb as "a smart, gritty examination of the lives of touring musicians." More info here. McGrath’s first book,  2017’s widely acclaimed Berlin-Warszawa Express, tackled similar terrain.

– Following the April release of a third album, Womb, Toronto electro-pop duo Purity Ring has just released a cover of Alice DJ’s 1999 Eurodance hit Better Off Alone via 4AD / Crystal Math. Purity Ring has rescheduled its UK and European tour, now set for summer 2021 and including a headline show at the Camden Roundhouse on June 21 and two Canadian shows, in Toronto (The Phoenix, April 29) and Vancouver (Vogue, May 12). Itinerary here


– Calgary-born bluegrass artist Bella White is now based in Boston. The 20-year-old’s debut album, Just Like Leaving, came out last week and is attracting positive attention Stateside. Rolling Stone praised its“sublime Appalachian heartbreak.”

–  MMF Canada selected its 2020/2021 Board of Directors at its recent AGM. Elected are Gourmet Délice, Jermayne Clayton, Katrina Lopes, Leela Gilday, Matt Maw, Mira Silvers, Nastonshia George, and Sarah Osgoode Welcomed back to returning as directors are Delice and Clayton. Continuing in the second year of their terms are Helen Britton, Liam Killeen,  Michael Gorman, and Savannah Wellman.

The Creationists, Steve Waxman’s well-received podcast about people who create, closes out Season Two with a profile of noted album cover designer Hugh Syme. Over the course of a career that has now spanned 45 years, Syme has been nominated for 19 Junos (winning 4), and has designed covers for Rush, The Band, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Earth, Wind and Fire and Celine Dion, and many more. Listen here

– Acclaimed Montreal band Plants and Animals has released a new single and video for Love That Boy. The fifth album, The Jungle, is set to be released Oct. 23 via Secret City Records.


Helen Reddy, the Australian singer/songwriter, activist and powerful voice of the 1972 feminist anthem I Am Woman, died on Sept. 29, at age 78. 

Reddy charted 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in her lifetime, including three No. 1s: the Grammy Award-winning I Am Woman (which she co-wrote with Ray Burton), Delta Dawn, and Angie Baby. She also logged 24 entries on the Adult Contemporary airplay chart, with eight of those topping the list. In 2011, Billboard ranked Reddy as one of the top 50 biggest artists of all time on the Adult Contemporary chart. Her other top 10 hits in the US included Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), You and Me Against the World,  and Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady. She last topped the American chart with 1976’s I Can’t Hear You No More.

At the 1973 Grammys, accepting her pop female vocalist award, Reddy further cemented her status as a symbol of the women’s liberation movement when she thanked “God because She makes everything possible.”

I Am Woman became the unofficial anthem of the Women's Liberation Movement, and Reddy said in a 2013 interview that she was just trying to represent the women in her life with the empowering song. "There were a lot of songs on the radio about being weak and being dainty and all those sorts of things," she told the Chicago Tribune. "All the women in my family, they were strong women. They worked. They lived through the Depression and a world war, and they were just strong women. I certainly didn't see myself as being dainty."

In 1973, she hosted a network variety show, The Helen Reddy Show, for eight episodes, before proceeding to an acting career that included roles in Pete’s Dragon and Airport ’75.

In 1974, Reddy became a naturalized United States citizen and became an activist supporting Democratic politicians. She was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the California Department of Parks and Recreation and served for three years.

In 2002, Reddy left the entertainment world to get a degree in clinical hypnotherapy. For the next decade, she lived under the radar in Sydney before returning to show business in 2012.

In 2006, Reddy published a memoir, The Woman I Am.

It was reported in 2015 that Reddy was suffering from dementia and was being cared for at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s Samuel Goldwyn Center for Behavioral Health in Woodland Hills.

A biopic about Reddy titled after her signature hit debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall.

 Amongst those paying tribute to Reddy was actor Jamie Lee Curtis, who took to Twitter to remember introducing Reddy at the Women's March back in January 2017, calling the moment "the honor of my life." Sources: Billboard, Variety

(Morris) Mac Davis, a hit country and pop songwriter and actor, died on Sept. 29, following heart surgery. He was 78.

Some of his major hits as an artist include Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me, Naughty Girl, Texas In My Rear View Mirror, and Hooked On Music.

As a songwriter, Davis penned hits for artists such as Nancy Sinatra, Elvis Presley, B.J. Thomas, Bobby Goldsboro, Vicki Carr, Perry Como, and many more. 

After his first attempts as a songwriter and an artist in the early '60s failed, Davis worked as a promotion executive for Vee Jay and Liberty labels. After relocating to Los Angeles for Liberty, he became a staff writer for Nancy Sinatra's publishing company.

He began to get cuts for a number of artists, including Watching Scotty Grow for Bobby Goldsboro and Something's Burning for Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, as well as a spate of Presley records, including A Little Less Conversation,  Memories, Don't Cry Daddy, and In The Ghetto, which Presley took to No. 3 on the Hot 100 chart. The song has been recorded by more than 170 artists, including Parton, whose version reached No. 50 on Hot Country Songs.

Davis scored 30 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart as an artist, including six top 10s. He landed four albums in the top 10 on Top Country Albums charts. Additionally, the crossover artist landed 15 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and 17 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Davis's musical and TV success catapulted him to movies, including 1979's North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte, 1981's Cheaper to Keep Her and The Sting II with Jackie Gleason in 1983.

He also starred on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies, and guested on numerous TV shows, including Murder She Wrote, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Muppets, Webster, King of the Hill, Freaks & Geeks and Fargo. His last acting appearance was as a preacher on an episode of Parton's 2019 Heartstrings series on Netflix.

Fellow artists who have paid tribute to Davis include The Oak Ridge Boys, B.J. Thomas, Lee Greenwood, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, and Sam Moore.

Davis was a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Source: Billboard

Max Merritt, a New Zealand rock/soul singer who found fame in Australia, died in Los Angeles on Sept. 2 at the age of 79, of Good Pasture Syndrome, a rare auto-immune disorder.

After relocating to Sydney from NZ in 1964, he formed Max Merritt and the Meteors. Their first Australian television appearance was for Johnny O’Keefe’s Song Sing Sing performing the 1946 Disney song Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. In February 1966, Max Merritt and the Meteors were the support act for The Rolling Stones.

Merritt had the hit in Australia with Try A Little Tenderness, not Otis Redding, and another hit was a cover of Western Union Man.

However, it was his original, Slipping Away,' that became his biggest hit. The song reached no. 2 in Australia and no. 5 in New Zealand.

In the early '70s, the Meteors moved base to England, opening for Slade and the Moody Blues, and eventually generating such a groundswell that they became the first signing to the British arm of Arista Records, personally recruited by Clive Davis.

Slippin’ Away, from the 1975 album A Little Easier, broke big in Australia and led to subsequent Oz hits and a sell-out tour there.  In 1977, Merritt relocated to Nashville and recorded albums for the Polydor imprint, of lesser success.

Then he moved to Los Angeles where he continued recording and also worked in carpentry, his other trade. He built a studio for Men At Work’s Colin Hay. Always in demand for tours in Australia, he undertook jaunts with Doug Parkinson and Brian Cadd and by himself. In 1979 he was one of the stars of the vast Concert of The Decade on the steps of Sydney Opera House. 

In 2007, he suffered kidney failure and was diagnosed with Good Pasture Syndrome, a rare auto-immune disorder.

In 2008 he was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Noise11

Vancouver producer and musician Cat Hiltz, one of the participants in the 2024 Women in the Studio National Accelerator .
Courtesy Photo

Vancouver producer and musician Cat Hiltz, one of the participants in the 2024 Women in the Studio National Accelerator.


Music Publishers Canada Names 2024 Women in the Studio National Accelerator Class

The initiative aims to boost the careers of producer-songwriters and address a glaring gender imbalance behind the scenes of the music industry.

There's a gender imbalance behind-the-scenes of Canadian music, and Music Publishers Canada (MPC)'s Women in the Studio National Accelerator aims to address it.

Recently released statistics have confirmed the major gender gap in multiple facets of the Canadian music industry, and this is especially glaring in the field of music production.

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