S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Gary Beals

There are some curves in life, some longer or sharper than others. Over the last 17 years, Gary Beals has taken them and put aspects of life’s winding road into his new music. Born October 25 1982, the Toronto-based Scotian-originated singer has been struggling, like other artists, with getting one’s music out there when there are no shows, no clubs and a whole lot of streaming.

Hailing from a church singing background in Cherrybrook Nova Scotia, Beals liked mellow soul like Al Green. His 2004 self titled debut was a slick, polished affair. That was recorded on the heels of Season One of Canadian Idol, when Beals was the 17-year-old runner up. Beals’ debut had solid dance ready cuts like “They Don’t Know.”

In 2009 he released a second disc, “The Rebirth Of Gary Beals,” which featured more polished r&b and dabbled in other styles like the dancehall flavour of “Jump Off.”

Beals has described the conflicts of his sexuality during interviews, and he has enjoyed the liberation of living out for some years, now. He writes and works with other writers on his songs, and has worked with produced instrumental tracks to sing on. Beals plays with multiple bands on stage when there are stages to play, and while there are no shows, he’s been promoting his new music on social media and with interviews. “Bleed My Teeth” was released last October 23, with videos trickling out. “Me For Me” has a couple of videos, one a live band performance shot last year. The “Blood Red Roses” remix has more processed sounding vocals than the original. That song was inspired by a trip to South Africa but the video was of random people dancing was shot in Toronto. 

About his adopted city, Beals told BringBackSoulMusic’s Youtube show that while “it’s happening… it could do a whole lot better here,”  citing a general lack of resources for Toronto R&B performers.

Through his career, Gary Beals has been nominated for a Juno (Best R&B / Soul) and won an East Coast Music Award among others. He will perform with Maestro Fresh Wes, Tika and Nefe, on February 25, 2021 at the S.A.C. Celebration Series Black History Month concert event hosted by Rudy Blair, Rudy Blair Entertainment: Tickets and S.A.C. Press Kit.

Concert goes live at 7PM (EST) tonight – streaming to multiple platforms!

Logging on to the Livestream tonight:
All you will need to do is enter your name and email address and create a password to access the event here. The latest versions of Chrome or Firefox guarantee the best experience. 

On YouTube:
Tune in live on S.A.C.’s YouTube Channel. 

On Twitch: 
Tune in live on S.A.C.’s Twitch Channel. 

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight @VerInfusion, proprietor of Basil’s Books & Vinyl and Freelance Writer specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show on CIUT.fm (89.5FM Toronto) arranged thematically and with commentary.

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.

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Maestro Fresh Wes

When “Let Your Backbone Slide” was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in late 2019, the 30 year old song was the first hip hop jam to receive the honour.

Maestro Fresh Wes has released a pile of cd’s, and lp’s, earlier on, and cassettes before that, like just about every aspiring rapper from the time before cdr’s.

Street music – buskers of every style, punk bands with no expectation of a record deal or money to press their own records, and of course, rappers back in the day, anyone making music without enough support to release a record, released music on good old affordable cassettes. Some early Bronx hip hop jams were “released” (not necessarily with everyone’s permission) on tape and others were apparently traded in New York City high schools. Indeed, a mix tape of DJ Red Alert brought from New York City to Halifax in the early ’80s is credited with being many Haligonians’ first exposure to hip hop and provided the germination of that city’s scene.

Toronto’s Maestro Fresh Wes, born Wes Williams to Afro-Guyenese parents on the last day of March in 1968, got his rapping start recording tape demos in the mid 1980’s. CKLN radio’s Ron Nelson was an early supporter, playing Wes’ music released under the moniker “Melody M.C.” That was in 1983 before the teen ager finished high school, attended Carleton University for a year, and came back to Toronto to push his music harder. After teaming up with Farley Flex in 1988 and appearing on MuchMusic’s Electric Circus TV show, Wes was signed to New York City’s LMR label. Now he had a manager (Flex) and a deal. Still, Wes needed a paycheque and worked as a security guard at Scarborough’s Parkway Mall. He worked overnights so he could keep developing his music. The Parkway Mall had a Tuxedo Royale store where Wes got the name “Maestro.” He also wrote “Let Your Backbone Slide” after searching for the best party phrase he could think of. The song borrowed heavily from a British instrumental, “The Champ,” by The Mohawks. As a debut single, few Canadian artists have done better.

“Let Your Backbone Slide” famously put Toronto on the hip hop map, just in time for the 1990’s. The song sold 25 000 copies in the U.S. on it’s release, and cracked the American Top 40, a first for a Canadian rap song. It sold over 50 000 copies, and went Gold in Canada, leading the way for other early ’90s Canadian rap. MuchMusic played more of it, and popular singles and albums came out from the likes of Dream Warriors, Michie Mee, later the Rascalz, Choclair, and others. This song was the biggest selling Canadian rap song until Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous.”

Touring Canada brought out large audiences, and Wes’ first album “Symphony In Effect” sold well too. The following year, a new decade, saw continued success. The follow up single from the album, “Drop The Needle” starts off on a thick P-Funk tip, and the accompanying video won a Juno. 

In 1991 Maestro Fresh Wes joined in on “Can’t Repress The Cause” which brought together rappers and singers from many backgrounds and genres including Lorraine Segato and Leroy Sibbles. The project’s aim was to push for more inclusion of hip hop into the mainstream Canadian music scene; the clubs, the press, and such.

Wes’ follow-up album, Black Tie Affair from 1991 perhaps kept the tuxedo related inspiration in effect and also sold well here, but he had his eye on New York City. Wes relocated to New York for much of the 1990’s but his music never gained the traction in America that it received here and he returned to Toronto in 1997.

His next big hit, “Stick To Your Vision” in 1999 borrowed from “These Eyes” and sounded like an affirmation of Wes as a Canadian artist. “Stick To Your Vision” would also provide the title for Maestro Fresh Wes’ self help book.

Wes worked as “Maestro” for a few years, but when working as an actor he uses his birth name. Despite finding success as an actor, Wes wasn’t done with music, either. “416 – 905 (Party Anthem)” from his “Built to Last” 1999 album received a Juno nomination.

Wes welcomed the new millennium with another album, his sixth, called “Ever Since” which featured a collaboration with Kardinal Offishall, “Bustin Loose,” which owes less to the Chuck Brown classic than most rap variations of this enduring D.C. jam.

Wes has since worked with Offishall again on multiple songs, along with Meesha Brueggergosman, Sam Roberts and others on his 2013 “Orchestrated Noise” album and even worked with Lawrence Gowan for a 2005 rap reworking of Gowan’s hit “A Criminal Mind.”

While Wes has never been considered gangsta rap, some of his songs shout out hoods and activities like “Dearly Departed” while his better known songs celebrate partying and sports. In 2015 he released “Underestimated” for the Pan-Am Games, and in 2017 he recorded “Jurassic Park” which included local rapper and producer Rich Kidd. Naturally, “Jurassic Park” was made into a video in 2019 after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship.

While touring isn’t an option for anybody these days, Maestro Fresh Wes performed briefly at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto for the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in 2019. When discussing his Songwriters Hall of Fame induction that year, he told CBC “I’m 51 years old, but my backbone is still slidin’ man.”

Maestro Fresh Wes will perform with Gary Beals, TiKA, and Nefe, on February 25, 2021 at 7pm EST at the S.A.C. Celebration Series Black History Month concert event hosted by Rudy Blair, Rudy Blair Entertainment: Tickets and S.A.C. Press Kit.

Concert goes live at 7PM (EST) tonight – streaming to multiple platforms!

Logging on to the Livestream tonight:
All you will need to do is enter your name and email address and create a password to access the event here. The latest versions of Chrome or Firefox guarantee the best experience. 

On YouTube:
Tune in live on S.A.C.’s YouTube Channel. 

On Twitch: 
Tune in live on S.A.C.’s Twitch Channel. 

Discography (from Wiki)

  • 1989 symphony in effect
  • 1991 black tie affair
  • 1992 Maestro Zone
  • 1994 Naah Dis Kid Can’t Be From Canada
  • 1998 Built to Last
  • 2000 Ever Since
  • 2013 Orchestrated Noise
  • 2017 Coach Fresh
  • 2019 Champagne Campaign
  • Eps
  • 2012 Black Tuxedo
  • 2015 Compositions Volume 1
416-905 (Party Anthem)
Stick to your Vision (These Eyes)

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight @VerInfusion, proprietor of Basil’s Books & Vinyl and Freelance Writer specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show on CIUT.fm (89.5FM Toronto) arranged thematically and with commentary.

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.

Isabelle Banos

Isabelle Banos

Isabelle Banos is a Montreal-based producer, songwriter and a founding member of thealternative pop band Caveboy, in which she plays bass and synthesizers. She has performed across Canada, showcased throughout the U.S., and participated in major music conferences all over the world.

  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?

I mostly work on music that falls somewhere under the “Pop” umbrella. I love creating songs that as many people as possible can connect with, and hopefully find some joy in. I really love bending and blending within the pop genre as much as I can. My sessions often involve some kind of sonic visit to past decades, creating wacky samples, superimposing beats, and just generally pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

  • How did you learn your craft – was it “formal” or “informal” music education?

I don’t have any formal music education and for a long time I used that as an excuse to hide out, I never really put myself out there. I always lacked the confidence to join the “boys club” that was the local music scene at the time. I would spend countless hours alone taking in free resources from the web; tutorial videos, blogs, podcasts, and everything in between. From there I started applying for every possible mentorship program that was available to me. I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented and generous people who not only supported my technical development, but who also helped foster the self-confidence I needed to finally realize “Hey I’m good at this and I have something special to offer!”

  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s it like?

I do! I’ve written and produced music for tons of really cool and inspiring projects. I really enjoy getting a creative brief that outlines exactly what the director is looking for. It’s such a fun challenge trying to figure out how to create something completely new and unique based off of a very specific song reference. Then to actually hear your music in the film or show is such a cool feeling!

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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.

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Glenn Copeland

Photo taken by: Maria Jose Govea

In these socially desolate times with no live concerts or much else allowed, one can draw inspiration from Glenn Copeland.

An African American transgender man who moved to Canada as a woman in 1961 to study classical music, Copeland’s life has seen a great deal of change, both internal and societal.

Born Beverly Glenn-Copeland in Philadelphia to a musical household where his father sent him to learn piano with his own childhood instructor. This yielded poor results; intimidated by his father’s prowess, the younger Copeland avoided the instrument for years after.

In 1961, Copeland was among the first Black students admitted to McGill University, and felt isolated in the heterosexual atmosphere where transgender wasn’t yet a recognized term. Copeland lived as an out lesbian while at McGill, which nearly got him kicked out.

Accounts of these early years in Montreal describe Copeland alternately as a folk singer, a jazz artist and a blues singer.

Copeland decamped for Toronto in 1967 at the age of 23, seeking a break from academia.

In 1970, his first two albums were released, by CBC and GRT. Some CBC radio albums are identical to contemporary commercial releases by the same artist, but often we get completely different albums, within a year of each other, which is the case with Copeland’s first two self titled records. Working with Canadian heavyweights, including Doug Riley and Lenny Breau, the album is often considered a jazz record, but Copeland insists the music is not itself jazz; the jazzy chords appear in classical music and there is no improvisation or jazzy structure to the songs. The CBC record was recorded live, each song in one take, according to Copeland.

Unfortunately, nobody bought the GRT release, and the CBC one quickly slipped into obscurity. In a recent interview with Johnny Hockin for Redbull Music Academy, Copeland explained “… they didn’t even have a category to put it in. In those days, categories were absolutely critical. If you weren’t in a category, you just existed out in space somewhere.”

The music is moody, and the vocals often brooding. While the album went nowhere at the time, collectors hell-bent on owning the CBC original (250 copies pressed) can now pay about 1500$ for the privilege. It is now well regarded as an album compatible with the likes of contemporary Terry Callier or Maxine Weldon. The vocals are positively operatic at some points, soars in a controlled environment. Copeland’s next album was 13 years away, but he was still active in the Montreal music scene and recording in Toronto, with Bruce Cockburn and Ken Friesen from True North Records, as well as ex- Kensington Market and Edward Bear alumnus Gene Martynec. 

Copeland provided music for the local underground movie “Montreal Main” which yielded no commercial release, but a re-worked version of the title song was released on his 1983’s “At Last.” In the original movie version, he plays an organ and gives a sparse vocal delivery. The remake sounds like its early ‘80s vintage, with pounding drum tracks and newer keyboards.

Through the 1970’s and ‘80s, Copeland’s bread and butter gig was on the Mr. Dressup Show playing himself as Beverly. Mr. Dressup afforded Copeland plenty of studio tinkering time. He still lived a public life as ‘Beverley from Mr. Dressup,’ and “you couldn’t be transgender and writing for children,” so he remained Beverly despite having felt like a male since early childhood. 

This time to explore music creation resulted in an unsung cassette release that led to Copeland’s late life popularity among a younger crowd.

“Keyboard Fantasies” was released in 1986, recorded in relative isolation in rural Hunstville, Ontario. Copeland employed a then-new Atari computer platform with a basic drum machine and a built-in palette of sounds which simulate orchestra instruments. “If you squint your ears,” Copeland told Fiona Alison Duncan in Sense.com recently, “you can almost pretend it’s a violin. It also gave me access to sounds traditional instruments couldn’t make.” A Yamaha DX7 and Roland TR 707 were used in this remote environment to create a variety of soundscapes and songs.

Three decades passed. Then prominent Japanese record collector Ryota Masuko got in touch, bought the remaining cassettes from Copeland, and re-sold them to an appreciative clientele. A reissue followed, and at the age of 74, Copeland found himself preparing for a world tour. The material on “Keyboard Fantasies” was largely forgotten by this time, as Copeland told Devan Diaz at Papermag.com; “I don’t listen to my own music. When it’s done. That’s it. I might listen to it a bit after it’s finished, but usually I try to move on to the next thing.” Nonetheless, Copeland lent the master recordings he had to a reissue project. The 1970 CBC album has joined the other album from that year in an afterlife as a reissue. “Primal Prayer,” a 2004 album recorded under the name Phynix was reissued last year.

Perhaps it’s his 40-plus years practicing Buddhism, but Copeland can wait to finish a song. “Caspian’s Dream” took about 30 years and an hour or so. He explained to Fiona Alison Duncan, “in 1970, this 8-bar phrase came to me on guitar, and it was so haunting. I tried to come up with something for it, and I couldn’t. I revisited it three more times, and nothing. Then, about 8 years ago, the whole thing came through. Within an hour, a song was written and it’s a very deep thing.” 

From rural New Brunswick where he settled with his wife Elizabeth, touring took Copeland to Japan where he met Masuko, the d.j. who fired up Copeland’s stage career. Copeland tours with a 5-piece band and concentrates on songwriting instead of keyboards. He told Johnny Hockin, “people began asking me to play, and I thought why (now)- then I realized it was a younger generation that was interested in this stuff I had been writing all these years.”

Unfortunately, Covid spread far and fast, and Copeland like about everyone else, was caught up in the virus’ ongoing consequences. With a new reissue and world tour planned, the Copelands sold their New Brunswick home and started looking for a place in the Quebec Laurentians. The New Brunswick place sold, the music economy stopped, and the elderly couple found themselves in a jam. A crowdfunding endeavor and some other generous fans have kept the pair housed while their lives are on hold.

Glenn Copeland self-identified publicly as transgender in 2002 and has since adopted Glenn as his first name. His website is still https://beverlyglenncopeland.com/about where one can find most of Copeland’s music.

Last fall, Transmissions was released. It is a collection going back to 1970, including his first new song in 15 years. Copeland will be a part of Wavelength’s only festival on February 27th in partnership with Harbourfront’s Kuumba Festival online. Keyboard Fantasies will be reissued again this April, by the Transgressive label, on vinyl, cassette, and for the first time, on c.d. 

In a recent statement addressed to fans, Copeland shared “… I have listened to your recent musings about the hope the music inspires and the calm it brings, finally understanding that the transmissions sent through me from what I call the Universal Broadcasting System are helpful to accomplish the UBS’s purpose; namely, that of bringing us together as a single human family at last.”

Describing his modern success from an old cassette, Copeland explained his prior sense of resignation over his music releases to Papermag’s Devan Diaz; “I never thought this would happen… after so long, I just assumed I didn’t fit. I never knew there would be a time when not fitting in would fit. Now there is, thanks to your generation!” Sometimes obscurity and isolation of the day can yield music that tomorrow’s fans might enjoy. Something to consider in this unprecedented mass isolation we are going through in this cursed Covid-19 time.

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight @VerInfusion, proprietor of Basil’s Books & Vinyl and Freelance Writer specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show on CIUT.fm (89.5FM Toronto) arranged thematically and with commentary.

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.

Jessie T

Whether performing live or virtually, Jessie T leaves it all on the stage. With the mind of a songwriter and the heart of a performer, her music takes you through love, heartache and everything in between. Jessie T’s voice blends country sweetness with a “pop-infused edge” raves Coral Andrews of the Waterloo Regional Record.

  • How did you learn your craft – was it “formal” or “informal” music education?

My introduction & love for music started from an early age in a super organic way – even though neither were career musicians, my Dad played guitar & my Mom loved to sing. Our house was always filled with music, from neighbour guitar nights to Charley Prides’ greatest hits playing through our house on vinyl.  

When I was 8, my parents put me in piano lessons. I always leaned towards playing popular music (Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ was a personal favourite) but through pursuing conservatory grading, I lost the initial spark. I was moved into vocal lessons at the same music school & picked up playing the guitar on the side. My Dad taught me my first 4 chords – after that I was hooked. I started writing wrongs, met my producer in Kitchener & then moved to playing gigs locally in downtown Kingston. 

After high school, I also attended college for one year for a Music & Digital media course. It focused on skills that can assist with building a career in music – photoshop, photography, music history, ear training, etc.  

My relationship with music has very much been built through formal & informal ways. I think embracing both has helped shape my musicianship & love for the craft.

  • Do you have a process to songwriting or when creating music? How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?

Songwriting has always been something I’ve been highly fascinated by, even as a creator. Quite often I’ll look back at songs I’ve written and think “how cool is that!” that certain lyrical ideas or melodies just found their way into that moment.

I have always been a pen to paper kind of girl, until the convenience of Google Docs came to be for co-writes. The songs I write usually come from topics I hear in conversations – talking to a friend or ones overhead in everyday life. Another common place I draw inspiration from are conversations or situations I play through in my head- reliving moments to find little details or rehaving conversations to say things left unsaid. I find it super therapeutic to write about those things.

I started seriously creating after meeting my producer Rick Hutt at 15. My Dad & I started writing and the first one we finished was called Shadows. It was about one of his friends who lost his son to cancer- “A shadow over my shoulder but no one at my side”.

The rest of my career as a creator/artist/performer has embracing opportunities and people that have come in to my path. Never be afraid to have a conversation or ask questions.

  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

As stated above, my biggest piece of advice would be to network. The longer I’m in this industry, the more I recognize how small ‘the circle’ is & how connected everyone is to one another. There are so many creators out there for you to work with, try new things!

Collaborate with people who inspire you: Create a list of dream collaborations & send people messages – social media is a great thing for that! Make sure you have a solid/clean product to send & reach out.

Invest in your craft: If you’re not willing to invest in it, why would anyone else? Put the time in to learning your instrument or researching different writing techniques. The same as any business, you need to put in the work.

Embrace opportunities: Never take advantage of people or situations that come in to your path, but be ready to embrace opportunities when they come your way. People like to work with people who work hard, create good product & have a vision. Take time to learn what makes you authentically you & follow that.

Most of all, have fun: Follow paths that make you excited- excitement will generate better product! Everyone in any career is allowed to have tough days but make sure you’re enjoying your journey.

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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.

In Memoriam: Salome Bey, Canada’s First Lady of the Blues, 1933-2020

In Memoriam

Canadian Legend and First Lady of the Blues, Salome Bey passed away on August 8. She was 86 years old. Born in 1933, she performed with her siblings as Andy and the Bey Sisters, touring Europe and North America.

On her first visit to Toronto in 1961, Bey met her future husband Howard Matthews at his establishment, The First Floor Club, a jazz music after-hours spot on Asquith Avenue at the edge of Yorkville. Matthews later opened The Underground Railroad restaurant with partners including local drummer Archie Alleyne.

Following Bey’s retirement, the couple moved to the Lakeside Long Term Care home in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood. Matthews passed away in 2016.

Bey passed away on August 8, 2020 at Lakeside. She is survived by her son Marcus Matthews and her two daughters. Jacintha Tuku and SATE sometimes backed their mother on stage as The Relatives. Salome Bey’s family has asked well-wishers to consider donating to The Freedom School Toronto, whose trustee may be reached here; Karen@childrenspeacetheatre.org.

S.A.C. published a feature on Salome Bey for International Women’s Day in March 2019.

S.A.C. Celebrates International Women’s Day: Bonnie Dobson

International Women's series - Bonnie Dobson
Photo by: Laurie Lewis

It took a chunk of her lifetime, but Bonnie Dobson is pleased to finally receive recognition for the brilliant song “Morning Dew” which she wrote, but failed to protect at the time. In 2017, she found her way to the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, The following year, she returned to Mariposa – the festival where she debuted the song in its inaugural run in 1961. By then, Dobson was a seasoned performer but still “new” to the world of publishing. She’d played multiple stints at Ash Grove, the legendary L.A. folk and blues spot. During one stay in L.A. she saw the film “On The Beach” which inspired here to write about life after a nuclear holocaust. “I had never written anything in my life,” she said in Jason Schneider’s book Whispering Pines.

Playing traditional folks songs was more exciting than returning to the University of Toronto, and Dobson slowly found her way to New York City. There, she recorded two albums of folk songs, a children’s record, and her third effort, a 1962 live album featuring her show stopper “Morning Dew,” recorded at Folk City in Manhattan. Dobson knew it was a great song, but had yet to publish the track.

Born November 13, 1940 in a union activist household, and an older sister immersed in the nascent Canadian folk revival inspired Bonnie to try her hand at performing.

Dobson recorded a self-titled album for Nimbus 9 in Toronto in 1969, featuring a re-recording of “Morning Dew,” before leaving for England, marriage and a career in post graduate academia.

After a few more records, including another self-titled effort, she walked away from music until 2013, when she returned to the stage.

“Morning Dew”’s merits were obvious to a few people who covered the song in a folk style, but Fred Neil’s version was the first to rock harder. Tim Rose covered the Fred Neil arrangement and connived his way into a co-writer’s credit for the song which was virtually in the public domain when he decided to record it.

“The worst part was when I came to England in 1969 and I gave my debut concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Everybody had thought that Tim Rose had written “Morning Dew,” because he had never mentioned me at any time, having anything to do with that song. I still get my royalty cheque, but I still consider it quite a grievous injury.” After a half century, Bonnie has been more widely appreciated for not only “Morning Dew” but her singing career overall. Her 2018 Mariposa return re-affirmed her spot in 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.

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.

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.

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Bullen Family

Bullen family - BLACK HISTORY SERIES (IG) 2020
Photo: www.eddiebullen.com

Eddie Bullen’s birthplace of Grenada is better known for The Mighty Sparrow and calypso grooves than jazz music. Arriving in Canada in 1980, Bullen has since worked to add jazz to the canon of music people associate with this island in particular and the Caribbean in general.

A 1985 single he worked on garnered him a Juno Award when Liberty Silver won for her R&B single “Somewhere Inside Your Love.”

Since then, Bullen has led several musical lives; in the 1990’s he was half the production duo The Ed-Ian Cartel, with Ian Wiltshire. They released a string of 12” singles straddling Caribbean and Canadian dance styles like soca, house, electronic, R&B and reggae.

Beyond production duties, Bullen has also written and played on records from soca artists and the occasional reggae star like Ninjaman.

He’s backed Byron Lee, Melba Moore, Deborah Cox and many other performers on stage. When he isn’t working on other artists’ songs, Bullen creates television music in Canada and abroad.

Bullen’s first solo disc, “Nocturnal Affair” came out in 1996 and in 1999, he released “Caribbean Dream,” an atmospheric c.d. with Dan Gibson. The meditative soundscape environment on here is unlike Bullen’s other releases.

Taking inspiration from popular jazz instrumentals of the 1980’s, the Toronto musician enjoyed radio success with “416,” a track from his 2004 “Make It Real” c.d. He has since released two more discs, “Spice Island” and “Kaleidoscope.”

Bullen has played with Toronto 70’s funk band Crack of Dawn at their reunion shows including the Beaches Jazz Festival over the last couple of summers. He has also worked with Crack of Dawn singer Glen Ricketts, along with his son Quincy.

While running Thunderdome Sounds, his record label, and QDB Music, his publishing company, Bullen continues to seek out young talent, to work with, and to mentor; he started a high school co-op program, back in 1986.

With a laid back groove to the smooth, Bullen performs with several of his own groups; The Eddie Bullen Band, The Caribbean Jazz Collective, and Father and Son; Dueling Pianos.

The latter features his two sons Tre Michael on percussion and elder son Quincy facing his dad, each armed with a grand piano. These performances have featured a mix of classic jazz instrumentals, classical, and jazz takes of popular songs. So Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” fits right in with Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” hit.

“We can spar with each other” at these shows, according to Quincy, a popular keyboard player in his own right. He plays all over the musical map, from classical tones to EDM tracks. He also performs with the funk band Kush.

Quincy’s debut release was with a teen jazz band called the Quintessential Boys. He’s since released several solo c.d.’s, starting with “On Q” in 2010. The follow up, Quantumplations, veered into R&B and dance music. More recently, he’s released “Poise Debris.”

“Poise Debris” heads into harder rock with cuts like “Work With That” and classic funk, a la Prince, with tight jams like “Groove On Adelaide.” Quincy has explained the piano was ground into him as a kid, but he had his dad’s blessing to try other instruments later. Quincy plays a bunch of instruments, but the keyboards keep calling him home. He described his intense practicing schedule growing up in his father’s musical house; “one hour before (school), one hour after. That was my life for years.” This got him into the Royal Conservatory, which took over Quincy’s musical education. The senior Bullen jokes that’s why he has Quincy play some classical sounds at their concerts together.

Somewhere on the way to his Toronto Jazz Festival debut at 18, he found time to act on DeGrassi- The Next Generation t.v. show. Tre Michael has also acted. The family jokes that the younger son got off easy, with a less stringent musical education. The three occasionally perform together, but keep busy with their respective projects.

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 Bullen Family songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/31Qr3U2

Spotify Ep.5

1. Sunset Marquee
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

2. Kaleidoscope
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

3. Morpheus
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

4. All Day Blues
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

5. Groove on Adelaide
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

6. Tomorrow
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

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.

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Bucky Adams

Bucky Adams - BHM

Born April 25, 1937 to a large family in Depression era Halifax, Charles “Bucky” Richmond Adams was fortunate to find himself in a musical household. Bucky Adams started teaching himself how to play instruments at a young age. By age 11, he entertained the Queen during a Royal visit to Halifax.

Adams played trumpet early on, until he literally blew his instrument to pieces mid-show. He replaced it with a saxophone he borrowed from his dad, after rushing home during the break.

Adams formed a band with several of his professors at Saint Francis Xavier University before playing in a series of Maritime bands. These included The Rockin Rebels, an early-integrated band in the 1960’s.

He played with Toronto émigré Joe Sealy and they gravitated to performing more jazz. Playing jazz found him sharing stages with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and other stalwarts of the genre. Singer Linda Carvery toured the Maritimes with Adams and Sealy before working with The Nova Scotia Mass Choir, some years later.

From The Lobster Trap with Louis Armstrong in the 1960’s, to The Middle Deck with B.B. King in 1974, Adams established himself in the Maritime music scene. In 1974, CBC released a 7” (45 rpm) record credited to Bucky Adams and The Musical Friends. The e.p. featured four covers, including one by fellow Maritimer Gene MacLellan.

The following he year he formed Basin Street, with whom he recorded his first full length album in 1976. The title “Bucky Adams and Basin Street at Privateers’ Warehouse” suggests a live recording, but was in fact recorded in a studio. Copies were presumably sold during their residency at the Halifax venue.

This time, covers including a funky instrumental of the hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” were mixed with originals, all of which, including “Bucky’s Blues,” were credited to the band collectively.

In addition to numerous television appearances, Adams was featured on Canada Express, a weekly music television program which won him a Gabriel Award from the United Nations, for excellence in broadcasting.

Generations was a 1980’s band Adams worked with, but his recorded output picked up in the c.d. age. In 1996 he released “In A Lovin’ Way” featuring songs inspired by his childhood such as “Africville Shuffle” and “Maynard Street.” “Live at the Thirsty Duck” followed, recorded with Adams’ son Corey in Halifax.

Adams joined forces with the Hungarian-Canadian Botos Brothers for his third release, and “Freedom” is Adams’ final disc.

Later in his six-decade career, Bucky Adams volunteered at the seniors’ home where he would eventually live. For over twenty years, the Northwood Centre in Halifax enjoyed weekly performances by Adams. He called it his “Wednesday night music therapy.” Corey described watching one such performance; people entered the room using canes and holding each other’s shoulders. Later, when they heard a song they recognized, they’d find the strength to get up, dance, and move to the music. CBC did a profile on Adams’ for his 70th birthday.

Charles “Bucky” Richmond Adams passed away at age 75 on July 13, 2012. He is survived by his partner Glenda, his wife Clara, five children and many grand children and great grand children. Several years later, the East Coast Music Awards announced the African Canadian Recording of the Year Award would be replaced by the Bucky Adams Memorial Award. It debuted at the 2016 ECMAs.

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 videos about Bucky Adams:

1.Charles “Bucky” Adams: A Celebration of Life Tribute in Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK89IoN0Id4

2.Bucky Adams – Basin Street – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMsNLu_bjlI

Performed by: Bucky Adams
Written by: Edwin H. Morris, Spencer Williams
Produced by: Russ Brannon
Album: Bucky Adams And Basin Street At Privateers’ Warehouse
Source: Discogs

3.Bucky Adams & Basin Street – Afro Minor (Canada 1976) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQk2YEPpa6E

Performed by: Bucky Adams
Written by: Basin Street
Produced by: Russ Brannon
Album: Bucky Adams And Basin Street At Privateers’ Warehouse
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.