S.A.C. Celebrates International Women’s Day: Lorraine Segato

International Women's Day - Lorraine Segato
Photo by: Marko Shark

Lorraine Segato was born in Hamilton, on June 17, 1956, but made her home in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Home to some of the city’s longest standing live music venues (including The Rex, Horseshoe, and Cameron House) and long lost legends (the 360 and the Bamboo, for instance), the neighbourhood was developing a vigorous live music scene by the 1980’s.

Segato played with the all women self-proclaimed feminist rock & roll band Mama Quilla II along with Lauri Conger who would soon join her in The Parachute Club. In 1982, drummer Billy Bryans (who also did a stint as only male in the all female 7 piece group Mama Quilla II later formed the dub funk reggae group ‘V’ along with Segato as they’d been developing their musical interest in Caribbean and Latin musical flavours.

Working with the Rastafarian Mojah, already a denizen on the local scene with Truth and Rights, they built their original repertoire along with Rough Trade’s bassist Terry Wilkens.  ‘V’ were offered a gig opening the inaugural Festival of Festivals (later known now as TIFF) in 1982, and things snowballed from there when ‘V’ could not do the gig then Bryans and Segato formed a group for the show which later became known as The Parachute Club
Opting to record with Daniel Lanois, who had engineered the Mama Quilla II EP that Bryans had produced, the new band, featured Segato, Conger and Bryans, along with Margo Davidson, Julie Masi, Steve Webster and David Gray.

The Parachute Club’s popularity exploded with their first album and it’s anthemic hit “Rise Up.” In 1984, the song won the band’s first Juno Award, and their first of three top 40 hits.

The follow-up LP and it’s title track, “At The Feet of the Moon” from 1984, made the Top 10, but changes were coming. Steve Webster left to join Billy Idol’s touring band, and his replacement, Russ Boswell, stayed until he was hired to play with Corey Hart. Nonetheless, The Parachute Club won another Juno, for Group of the Year, in 1985. The band also scooped several CASBY awards, and a collection of remixed songs came out.

“Small Victories” was the third and final Parachute Club album of new material. It had the hit “Love Is Fire,” a duet with John Oates who also produced the record. The track garnered the band another Juno, this time for Video of the Year.

Percussionist Julie Masi left the group and was replaced by Rebecca Jenkins. Aaron Davis stepped in for departing keyboardist Lauri Conger after that.

By 1988, Parachute Club had six Junos, two Platinum and one Gold Record award. They released one more single, “Big Big World” and decided to suspend the band.

On their separate roads, Lorraine Segato pursued a solo career, releasing three albums, starting with “Phoenix” in 1990. “Luminous City” was released a few years later 1998, and in 2015 Segato issued “Invincible Decency.”

From 2005 to 2018 the band, with four original members, played the occasional shows. They were inducted into the Canadian Indies Hall of Fame in 2006.

A couple of members have sadly left us. In 2008, Margo Davidson, who left music to become a social housing activist, passed away at age 50. Billy Bryans, 63, died in 2012.

Segato was later married to Ilana Landsberg-Lewis and produced several large fundraising concerts for the Stephen Lewis Foundation featuring activists Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox & Angelique Kidjo. She has worked on music related documentaries in recent years. “Lowdown Tracks,” profiling the lives of homeless street performers on TVO. Previously, she wrote and directed “Queen Street West: The Rebel Zone.” Most recently, Segato has written an autobiographical stage show called Get Off My Dress that will be mounted in 2021.

In November, 2019, Segato performed with a host of others at a Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame show at the Phoenix Theatre in Toronto. “Rise Up” was among the songs celebrated. After a quick speech about the coalescing of this progressive minded music scene on Queen West 40 years ago, Segato performed the song as well as a cover of “Magic Carpet Ride.”

She told interviewer Pamela Roz in late 2019 she would be touring her Wild Women (Don’t Get the Blues)

Show featuring established and emerging women artists showcasing songs written by Canadian Women Songwriters.

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary.

Don’t forget to check out these Lorraine Segato songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2Ip8f5r

Copy of Spotify Ep. 6

1. Rise Up
Performed by: Parachute Club
Written by: Parachute Club
Produced by: BMG Music/Columbia House
Album: Wild Zone – The Essential Parachute Club (1992)
Source: Discogs

2. Love is Fire
Performed by: Parachute Club
Written by: Parachute Club
Produced by: BMG Music/Columbia House
Album: Wild Zone – The Essential Parachute Club (1994)
Source: Discogs

3. Hole in the Wall
Performed by: Lorraine Segato
Written by: Lorraine Segato
Produced by: Get Off My Dress Productions
Album: Invincible Decency (2013)
Source: Discogs

4. Only Human
Performed by: Lorraine Segato
Written by: Lorraine Segato
Produced by: Get Off My Dress Productions
Album: Invincible Decency (2013)
Source: Discogs

5. We Gave the Night Away
Performed by: Lorraine Segato
Written by: Lorraine Segato
Produced by: Get Off My Dress Productions
Album: Invincible Decency (2013)
Source: Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

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