Music News Digest, Sept. 9, 2019

Anya Wilson (pictured) enters the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, Lindsay Ell assists the Band Aid program, and Phil X and Prakash John are honoured. Also in the news are Alan Doyle, Barbara Hannigan, Matt Lang, Hawksley Workman, Lesley Mitchell-Clarke, and farewells to Jimmy Johnson and Martin Foster.

Music News Digest, Sept. 9, 2019

By Kerry Doole

On Saturday night, at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, veteran publicist/radio promoter Anya Wilson and country star Charlie Major were inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame 2019. Read an FYI profile of Wilson here.  Paul Brandt was honoured with the 2019 Slaight Music Humanitarian Award, for his work in ending child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in Canada with his #NotInMyCity movement.

– Calgary-born country star Lindsay Ell visited Father Scollen School in her hometown on Thursday to present a $15K grant for musical instruments via the MusiCounts Band Aid program. The grant event came at the start of Canadian Country Music Week in Calgary.


– Quebec singer Matt Lang has won the second SiriusXM Top of the Country contest, which comes with $25K and an international SOCAN songwriting camp. Lang and two other finalists, Kelsi Mayne, and Tim & The Glory Boys, performed at a show at the Palace Theatre in Calgary on Sept. 5, where a judging panel of music industry professionals crowned the winner. High Valley headlined the Country Music Week show, which included surprise appearances by Calgary singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell, Dallas Smith and Dean Brody. Paul Brandt was on hand to announce the winner.

– Mississauga Music Walk of Fame has chosen local musicians Phil (Xenidis) X and Prakash John to be its 2019 Inductees. The Induction Ceremony took place on Sept. 8 at The Jim Tovey Memorial Stage at Memorial Park in Port Credit. Musician and songwriter ‘X’ replaced Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora in 2011 and was the featured guitarist for the band on their single, and album, This House Is Not for Sale. He is also credited as a session guitarist on albums by Tommy Lee, Methods of Mayhem, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Rob Zombie, Chris Daughtry, and Alice Cooper.


John is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bass player and former Mississauga resident who was born in Mumbai, India, and moved to Toronto at age 13. He has toured and recorded with Bush, Parliament‎ Funkadelic, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, and his own band, The Lincolns. In addition to the Lincolns, he has worked with Prince, James Brown, Paul Shaffer, Trailer Park Boys, Pinetop Perkins, Dr. John, Junior Wells, and Mike Bloomfield and appeared in the film Blues Brothers 2000. He is currently working with his son, Verve recording artist, Jordan John.

–  Alan Doyle has signed a solo deal with Warner Music, bringing him back to the company where he signed his first major deal. It was 25 years ago this month when Doyle and his Newfoundland-based group Great Big Sea signed with the label. Doyle is currently working on a new album. Source: VOCM

– Globally-renowned Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan is the subject of A Conversation with Barbara Hannigan, presented by the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists. The event is on Sept. 16 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Avenue in Toronto, Free admission, but registration required here


– Hawksley Workman begins a nine-date European tour tomorrow (Sept. 10) at Lille Ole Bull, Bergen, Norway. Canadian winter tour dates begin with a Nov. 2 show at the Hamilton Central Library, closing out on Dec. 31 on Fogo Island, NL. The shows are in support of current album Median Age Wasteland.

– Toronto music publicist and promoter Lesley Mitchell-Clarke is presenting a top-notch triple bill at Le Dome, Oakville on Sept. 27. Entitled Pizza and Salsa, it celebrates Latin Jazz with performances by Amanda Martinez, Laura Fernandez, and Charles DiRaimondo, with Bruce Cassidy as bandleader. More info here



Jimmy Ray Johnson, a legendary session guitarist and member of the vaunted Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, died on Sept. 5 from kidney failure, at the age of 76. 

As a member of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Johnson played on countless hits by the likes of Aretha Franklin (including Respect), Etta James, Jimmy Cliff, Traffic, Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett and more. With David Hood, Roger Hawkins and Barry Beckett, Johnson played in the house band at Rick Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama - a quartet that came to be known as the "Swampers."

Later on in the 1960s, Johnson also began to work occasionally as a recording engineer, notably serving as an engineer on The Rolling Stones' 1971 masterpiece, Sticky Fingers

Though never one to seek the spotlight himself, Johnson's playing has inarguably had a significant effect on the fabric of American music. Upon learning of his passing, singer/songwriter Jason Isbell commented "The mighty Jimmy Johnson has passed. A lot of my favourite music wouldn’t exist without him."  Source: Guitar Player

Martin Foster, Canadian classical musician, concertmaster, and educator, died on Aug. 26, of cancer, in Stratford, Ontario. 

Born in England, Foster graduated from the Montreal Conservatoire de musique in violin and received a post-graduate degree from the Julliard School in New York. In 1973 he played his debut at Carnegie Hall. In 1974 he co-founded the American String Quartet, which won the prestigious Coleman and Naumburg competitions in the same year.

In 1980 he returned to Canada as a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and gave many concerts as soloist with orchestra and recitalist. He has been concertmaster of the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, the Chamber Players of Toronto, and the McGill Chamber Orchestra.

Foster taught at the Julliard School, Mannes College of Music, and the Montreal Conservatoire de musique. From 1982-2008, he was professor of violin in the Department of Music at the Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as music director and conductor of the UQAM Orchestra and the Atelier d’opéra.


Foster also composed music for television and film. He was the composer, conductor and violin soloist for the successful Quebec children’s film, La mystérieuse mademoiselle C.

Memorial donations to London Health Sciences Center or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees through the W.G. Young Funeral Home, Stratford. 519-271-7411. Source: Toronto Star

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