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Music News Digest: Your Voice Is Power Teaches STEM With Indigenous Music

Other Canadian music news this week includes PEI Music Week, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's new season, Wavelength Winter Festival, a Paper Bag Records "preboarding" showcase & more.


Aysanabee, a guest judge for Your Voice Is Power program

Lindsay Duncan

Awards news

Music PEI’s flagship event, Music Week 2024, culminates in the Music PEI Awards Gala, at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, on March 10. The Awards Gala will include a red carpet, sponsored by the East Coast Music Association, starting at 6 p.m, alongside performances by top nominees Tara MacLean, Inn Echo, Jenn Grant, Sirène et Matelot and Noah Malcolm. A 9- piece house band will be led by PEI impresario, Craig Fair. Tickets here.

- TheNiagara Music Awards are set for Sept. 27 at the Battlefield Centre on Lundy’s Lane, in Niagara Falls. Now in a 9th year, the awards have previously celebrated the likes of Honeymoon Suite and Tim Hicks.


Festival news

- The Rifflandia music and arts festival, a popular summer event on Vancouver Island since 2008, has announced a move to a new location at Matullia Lands at Rock Bay. This year’s fest will run September 13 to 15 as an all-ages event. Lineup details are forthcoming.

- The 24th edition of the annual Wavelength Winter Festival plays three venues in downtown Toronto, Feb. 29-March 2. Performers include Georgia Harmer, DijahSB, Beams, Kali Horse, Charles Spearin, ANIMATIST, BiG SiSSY, Cots, Just Prince, Janette King, Love Language and Caijo. Tix and info here.

The Planetary Group is hosting a daytime showcase at The New Colossus Festival on March 8 at Pianos Showroom in New York City from 12:30-6 p.m. The impressive lineup includes Canadian content in the form of sunnsetter and FRANKIIE. Also on the international bill are Crystal Canyon, La Securité, Hause Plants, Shelf Lives and Stuck in The Sound.

- Wasaga Beach, Ontario, helped launch its new Wasaga Stars Arena by hosting a festival entitled Breaking the Ice: A Celebration of Legends, Icons and 50 Years of Sunshine. It ran Feb. 10-19, and events included shows by Canadian music legends Burton Cummings and Blue Rodeo.


Industry news

- Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon Music and TakingITGlobal have launched the 2024 edition of Your Voice is Power. This is an educational program and remix competition that teaches computer science and coding skills to middle and high school students using music from Indigenous artists. After reaching more than 15,000 students in 2023, Your Voice is Power has raised the target to more than 20,000 in 2024.

While teaching the basics of coding, the program also engages students in discussions on the First Nations, Inuit and Métis experience in Canada, including topics like Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

Indigenous artists whose work students will remix include Jayli Wolf, Dakota Bear, Samian, Twin Flames and rising star Aysanabee, who will also join the student competition judging panel. Students will use EarSketch, a free online code editor available in English, French, Ojibwe, and Inuktitut. Their remixes will be entered into a competition in which two winners – one Indigenous, one identifying as an ally – will receive $5,000 scholarships. The deadline for entry submissions here is May 31, and the winners will be selected in June.


- Toronto Symphony Orchestra has announced its2024-25 season, one featuring a wide range of masterworks and pop concerts, from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Beethoven's Triple Concerto, to Also Sprach Zarathrustra to Star Wars. "Over the last five years, I’ve come to develop a close connection with our orchestra members, and I am consistently amazed by their artistry, refinement and enthusiastic versatility," TSO music director Gustavo Gimeno says. "2024-25 will ultimately be our orchestra’s well-deserved moment in the sun."

- Applications for showcasing at Global Toronto 2024 (GT24) are now open. The event is attended by music programmers and industry professionals from across Canada and around the world. The deadline to submit here is March 20.


- City Opera Vancouver will present the Canadian premiere of Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt, Feb. 29, March 2 & 3 at the York Theatre. The modern opera was written by acclaimed Brooklyn composer Missy Mazzoli, in collaboration with Canadian librettist Royce Vavrek, and premiered in New York in 2012. It has since toured the U.S. and now makes its Canadian premiere in Vancouver. The role of Isabelle Eberhardt will be performed by Canadian mezzo-soprano Marion Newman. More info on the opera here.

- Acclaimed Toronto indie label Paper Bag Records is hosting a Preboarding Artist Showcase at The El Mocambo on March 1, featuring the A-list lineup of Zoon, POSTDATA, Pony Girl and Sunnsetter. The goal is to give them all a show together in Toronto before they head off to SXSW, New Colossus and other festivals and events in the U.S. Tickets here.

Artists News

- After a decade together, Nova Scotian indie pop band Hillsburn is calling it a day, but plan to go out in grand style. The group's final show, set for April 26 at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax, is a collaboration with Symphony Nova Scotia. Hillsburn released four well-received albums, and in 2022 earned three East Coast Music Awards in 2022 for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Pop Recording of the Year. Tickets here.

- Bruce Cockburn is set to appear on the popular National Public Radio performance show, Mountain Stage, beginning March 29. Recorded on Feb. 1 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, CA, Cockburn was joined on stage that night by Colin Hay (Men At Work), Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Chuck Prophet & the Make Out Quartet and The Lucky Valentines. Mountain Stage with host Kathy Mattea airs on over 260 NPR Stations nationwide.


- In our recent Billboard Canadaobituary of Helix drummer Greg 'Fritz' Hinz, we referenced his previous band, Starchild. Now comes the news that the Ontario rock band's 1978 Axe Records release, Children Of The Stars, is now available on the major streaming platforms. The band toured with fellow Canadian rockers Triumph, Goddo, and Moxy throughout Canada.

- Neil Young continues to explore his vast back catalogue, releasing this material in various forms. On Feb. 23, he delivered Dume, a collection of 16 tracks from the Zuma-recording period on a limited-edition vinyl pressing. Look for never-heard-before versions of well-known songs, along with the originals. Order here.

- Acclaimed Toronto guitarist, Champagne James Robertson, recently moved to Hamilton, making it far easier for him to play his once-a-month gig at music-friendly east-end Hammer bar/resto The Capitol. Sunday's show there was a real treat, as the ever-tasteful Robertson, with the help of a top-notch bassist and drummer, delivered two sets of eclectic guitar-based instrumentals. No between-song banter at all, just fluent playing. The much in-demand CJR plays with the likes of Junkhouse, Dwayne Gretzky, MOONRIIVR and C&C Surf Factory, and he shines in this setting. Peers Tom Wilson and Dave Rave (Teenage Head) and ace journalist/author Stephen Brunt were in the audience.


- To celebrate her career as she turns 50, highly-regarded folk artist Cara Luft (The Small Glories, The Wailin' Jennys) is launching “50 for 50” — fifty curated shows that will see her travel across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, joined by special guests. This begins with an April 5 concert presented by Rogue Folk Club at St. James Community Square in Vancouver, with Luft being joined by Shari Ulrich, brothers Neil & David Osborne (54-40) & Suzie Ungerleider. Live & streamed, the show has an 8 p.m. start. Tix here

Luminate Data Market Watch Facts & Figures: Week Ending Apr. 4, 2024

Luminate Data Market Watch Facts & Figures: Week Ending Apr. 4, 2024

Here is this week's Luminate Data Market Watch report which features Canadian music stats for the current week and year-to-date comparisons to last year.

Here is this week's Luminate Data Market Watch report which features Canadian music stats for the current week and YTD with comparisons to last year. This chart is published every Tuesday. The abbreviation "TEA" is a term used to describe the sale of music downloads or singles. A track equivalent album is equal to 10 tracks, or 10 songs.