Lorraine Klaasen: A Precious and Rare South African Musical Artist in Canada

Lorraine Klaasen

 

S.A.C. Celebrates Canadian Music Week Spotlight On South Africa: Musical Performance By Special Guest, Lorraine Klaasen 7PM May 8

40 square miles of misery. With a few cold water taps shared by thousands of people, Soweto, with its tiny shanties on scrublands, had some of the worst living conditions in South Africa, the richest country on the continent in 1976.

In 1963, the series of townships in Johannesburg’s south west were finally, officially named Soweto. Originally meant to warehouse black migrant workers for Johannesburg’s white population, plans for the South Western Township had been afoot since the dawn of apartheid in the early twentieth century. Before the system was codified in the 1940’s, South African officials visited Canada to study our Indian Act and the reserve system. Indigenous Canadians needed a white government agent to allow them a pass to leave their reserve. Segregation may have been an American term, but it certainly occurred here, and white South Africans were eager to legitimize their institutional racism, Canadian style.

In mid June, 1976, student demonstrations against teaching only in Afrikaans, the language of the hated Boers, quickly turned deadly, beginning a protracted struggle between Soweto’s inhabitants and the South African regime. It wasn’t until 1983 that Soweto would gain a measure of autonomy within the apartheid system. This is the chaotic, hate filled atmosphere Lorraine Klaasen left to pursue a musical career. The journey brought her to Canada, and later to international success as a singer. Staying in Soweto would result in multiple Klaasen family members’ deaths.

Lorraine Klaasen was born and raised in Soweto, the daughter of one of South Africa’s favourite singers, Thandie Klaasen. The senior Klaasen has been described as the Ella Fitzgerald of South Africa, and a favourite singer of Nelson Mandela. Her house filled with visiting musicians, young Lorraine sang locally as well, until landing a gig touring Israel when she was 19. There, she learned Hebrew and later in Greece, Klaasen would learn enough of that language to sing it. Klaasen has also recorded in Tsonga, Sotho, isiZulu and Xhosa (the clicking one), as well as our two official Canadian languages.

By the time Klaasen got here in 1979, she was just in time for a Canadian winter, with “no family. No friends. My husband was working.” Still, the determined singer landed a gig at Le Bijoux in Old Montreal in 1980, where she played a mostly jazz repertoire until 1986.

That year, Klaasen produced her show “African Broadway” and incorporated more sounds of South Africa into her music. She was also invited to the African Mama festival in Holland, with lifelong friend Miriam Makeba and other African luminaries like Manu Dibango. She would record her first album. “Soweto Groove,” and the album’s title would become the name of her band.

From making a big splash at the giant Montreal Jazz Festival, Klaasen has since hit most Canadian jazz festival coast to coast. She has also performed in the Caribbean, U.S. and in Europe, along with the motherland, in Africa. In between, she released more music on CBC and on local labels such as Justin Time in Montreal.

She has described occasional visits to Soweto as having her “batteries recharged.” In 2013, her c.d. “A Tribute to Miriam Makeba,” won her a Juno award for World Music album of the year. She had grown up calling Makeba “Auntie” and played her songs regularly from a young age so recording a tribute to the legendary singer and activist came naturally.

In addition to regular performances and recording albums, Klaasen has been visiting grade schools, mentoring and educating youth with spoken word presentations and workshops.

Klaasen released a c.d. in 2016 on Montreal’s Justin Time label, called “Nouvelle Journee” featuring songs in several languages, from Greek to several indigenous South African languages (not Afrikaans!). More recently, she recorded a c.d. in South Africa using local talent to help out. “African Connexion” intersperses covers like “Pata Pata” (which Klaasen also recorded for her debut l.p. in 1989) with mostly self-penned songs. Klaasen has performed at Afrofest, Canada’s largest live African music festival held in Toronto early in the summer. In recent years, she re-located from Montreal to London, Ontario.

In 2014 Klaasen performed with her mother in Montreal, one last time after a few false alarms. The last show together saw Lorraine’s daughters Jessica and Lydia Lomumba join the two senior Klaasen ladies.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep. 9 - CMW

Don’t forget to check out these Lorraine Klaasen songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2ZWk8an

1. Africa Calling
Album: Africa Calling
Performed by: Lorraine Klaasen
Written by: Lorraine Klaasen, Mongezi Chris Ntaka, Yves Jeans
Source: Justin Time / Fontana North

2. Mina Nawe
Album: Africa Calling
Performed by: Lorraine Klaasen
Written by: Lorraine Klaasen, Mongezi Chris Ntaka
Source: Justin Time / Fontana North

3. Where To Now
Album: Nouvelle Journee
Performed by: Lorraine Klaasen
Written by: Lorraine Klaasen
Source: Justin Time / Fontana North

4. Imbizo
Album: Africa Calling
Performed by: Lorraine Klaasen
Written by: Lorraine Klaasen, Mongezi Chris Ntaka
Source: Justin Time / Fontana North

OFFICIAL BIO

Lorraine Klaasen, the daughter of the late legendary South African Jazz singer Thandie Klaasen, is one of the few South African artists who have preserved the classic sound of ‘Township Music’, which continues to be the most distinctive sound to come out of South Africa. Born and raised in Soweto and now based in London, Ontario, Lorraine has electrified audiences worldwide with her dynamic stage presence and showmanship

In 2008, Lorraine released the highly charged album ‘Africa Calling’.  Through working with South African record producer Mongezi Chris Ntaka, and featuring bassist Bakhiti Khumalo (who also memorably performed on Paul Simon’s landmark album, Graceland), Lorraine accomplished her childhood dreams of taking Township music to the rest of the globe and making a truly African record that touches every heart & soul that beats the world over.

Her CD ‘A Tribute To Miriam Makeba’ won Lorraine the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year and was nominated for an APCMA Award in the Best International Indigenous Artist category.  It is a tribute to the legendary songstress, who remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa.

Lorraine’s latest and most ambitious CD the 2017 Juno Award nominated ‘Nouvelle Journée’ showcases some of the musical styles that Lorraine has not yet recorded in her long musical career.  On this album she sings in the Tsonga, Sotho, isiZulu and Xhosa languages of South Africa as well as English and French.   The repertoire is thought provoking – the importance of family, empathy, love and hope make up ‘Nouvelle Journée.’ It’s an optimistic, danceable record but also a lucid, sincere and engaging work.  Recent performance highlights include the prestigious Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Festival International  Nuits D’Afrique,  Music of the Rainbow Nation and Hommage à Miriam Makeba in Toronto – as well as a very successful month long US tour.  Lorraine’s life on the road continues – with performances in South Africa, the United States, Barbados and at festivals in Ontario and Quebec.

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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The Artz of Schwartz – Eddie Schwartz inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

Eddie Schwartz induction

The keyboards were turned up. New synthesizers kept hitting the market. The guitars were getting pushed back, the horns started to sound more like keyboards, and keyboards began to emulate horns. The raw drums and precise click tracks on so many of the ubiquitous disco records at the end of the 1970s gave way to a different, slick but pounding drum sound. The sound of popular music was changing rapidly. The 1980s had begun.

Eddie Schwartz was doing well for himself as a singer and composer at the start of that decade, when he went from recognition in his native Canada to becoming a multimillion- selling songwriter. One of the demos he’d been shopping around was brought to the attention of budding superstar Pat Benatar in 1981. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” sold some 10 million copies on release, earning a 7x Platinum award in the States, and continues to be a well-loved and frequently played anthem.

His songs, and later his production style, made and maintained many of the world’s biggest voices of the 1980s, from Donna Summer to Joe Cocker.

Edward Sydney Schwartz was born in Toronto on December 22, 1949. After studying English and music at York University, he joined Kitchener singer Charity Brown’s touring band. He also landed a songwriting gig with ATV Music and a recording deal with Infinity Records. The ironically named label folded before Schwartz’s record came out, and his eponymous debut album was released on A&M in 1980. His followup, No Refuge, yielded an American charting hit, “All Our Tomorrows.” Schwartz enjoyed success in Canada with releases like “Strike,” “Over the Line,” “Heart on Fire,” “Special Girl”, and others. In 1984, Public Life was released, and then Private Life (Best Shots) in 1994, with the latter featuring Schwartz’s own versions of hits he penned for others, including “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” a more straight ahead rocker than one might have imagined from listening to his records. His final release, in 1995, was Tour de Schwartz, which yielded the single “Bourbon Street.”

From the late 1980s, Schwartz’s writing and production skills were in great demand, and he concentrated on the behind-the-scenes of music-making. He wrote fellow songwriter Paul Carrack’s biggest solo hit, “Don’t Shed A Tear,” along with a couple of hundred songs for an array or artists.

A few performers who recorded music by, or with, Schwartz include The Doobie Brothers, Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, Robert Palmer, along with divas like Amii Stewart and Donna Summer, and Canadians Gowan, Helix, Honeymoon Suite and April Wine.

Over the years, Schwartz has won many awards, including the high honour of being invested into the Order of Canada in 2012. In 2017, he became the first North American president of the Paris-based International Council of Music Creators. He also serves as co-chair of Music Creators North America and is president emeritus of the Songwriters Association of Canada.

In 1997, he moved to Nashville where he graduated from a music leadership program in 2000. Eddie Schwartz has spent much of this millennium in various capacities advocating for songwriters’ rights and revenues in Canada and beyond.

Eddie Schwartz is being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on May 9, 2019 during Canadian Music Week at Rebel Nightclub in Toronto, ON during the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards.

Many congratulations to Eddie on this highly deserved honour.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep. 9 - CMW

Check out our new Spotify playlist we created to celebrate this incredible achievement – https://spoti.fi/2ZWk8an

1. Special Girl
Album: Public Life
Performed by: Eddie Schwartz
Written by: Eddie Schwartz and David Tyson
Source: Warner Music Canada

2. Bourbon
Album: Blid Lyd!
Performed by: Direksjonsmusikken
Written by: Eddie Schwartz
Source: Direksjonsmusikken

3. Feed The Fire
Album: Public Life
Performed by: Eddie Schwartz
Written by: Eddie Schwartz and David Tyson
Source: Warner Music Canada

4. Don’t Come To Me
Album: Public Life
Performed by: Eddie Schwartz
Written by: Eddie Schwartz and David Tyson
Source: Warner Music Canada

5. Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Album: Crimes of Passion
Performed by: Pat Benatar
Written by: Eddie Schwartz
Produced by: Keith Olsen and Neil Giraldo
Source: Chrystalis/EMI Records (USA)

 

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.

Pro Member Interview – Karen Kosowski

Karen Kosowki - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/KarenKosowski

Producer and songwriter Karen Kosowski has one foot in the pop world and the other foot in the country world. She has produced a US Pop Radio Top 40 (Tryon’s “Somebody To Love Me”), a Billboard AC Radio #4 (Emma-Lee’s “It Won’t Be Christmas”) and a Canadian Country Radio Top 10 (Madeline Merlo’s “Motel Flamingo”) – for which she received a nomination for Producer Of The Year at the 2018 CMAO Awards. As an active songwriter, she has contributed to numerous pop and country hits for Canadian and American artists including most recently Brett Kissel’s Top 10 single “Anthem”. Recent releases include producing/co- writing both albums “Fantasies: Volume I” and “Fantasies: Volume II” from Emma-Lee, and co-writing“What A Song Should Do” and “The Worst Kind feat. Lindsay Ell” from Tim Hicks’s latest record “New Tattoo”.

Having written and produced the music for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games medal ceremonies, Karen has also landed numerous tv/film placements both on television networks such as HBO Canada, CBS, FX Network, Lifetime Network, TLC, YTV, MuchMusic, NickTeen, Space, and the CW, and in feature films including the award-winning thriller “The Scarehouse” and Wangofilms’ action movie “88” (starring Christopher Lloyd), which garnered her a 2016 Canadian Screen Awards nomination in the category of Achievement in Music – Best Original Song. She also received Producer of the Year nominations at both the 2018 CMAO Awards and in the 2015 NOW Magazine ‘Best of Toronto’ poll.

Karen is currently based out of her own private studio in the exclusive music mecca neighborhood of Berry Hill in Nashville, working with new talent from Liz Rose Music Publishing, Big Deal Music Publishing, BMG Publishing and more.

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For more information please visit karenkosowski.com

Contact: karen@karenkosowski.com

 

  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry 

    I’ve been a professional songwriter and record producer for over a decade, but prior to that I actually spent many years as a solo artist. When I first started out writing songs as a teenager, there was a big emphasis in the music industry on singer-songwriter artists who performed their own material (this was the mid-nineties), so I started going out and performing my own songs, and renting gear and producing my own albums, very DIY. But 12 years and several albums later, I realized my true passion was the actual writing and producing, and not the other aspects of being an artist like touring, etc.  I’m grateful for everything I learned from the many years I spent as a solo artist, but I’m much happier helping other artists realize their vision!

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

    I grew up playing acoustic instruments but then got pretty heavily into programming, so I love experimenting with a hybrid of electronic and organic elements, which lands pretty naturally in the pop-country genre… but i sometimes swing full-on pop, or the opposite, to more rootsy country.  It depends on who I’m writing with and what they’re feeling in the mood to do!

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

    I had the opportunity to write a song for the WangoFilms feature film “88” (with my co-writer Peter Katz) starring Christopher Lloyd.  It was a fascinating and emotional way to write, because we were seeing the picture on the screen as we worked out the music.  Technically it was really different too, because the scene required a really fluid piece, with dramatic pauses… we were writing to highlight the emotion of the scene at every moment.  I got to try out some new things in Logic, and made a lot of use of tempo mapping!

In Memory of Justin Haynes, 1973-2019

JustinHaynes3
Photo of Justin Haynes from http://www.ottawacitizen.com

Justin Grant Alan Haynes was born February 24, 1973. As a boy growing up in Dunrobin, now on the outskirts of the amalgamated city of Ottawa, he attended school in Kanata where he was remembered fondly by a former music teacher. At the age of 12, Haynes discovered the music of revered jazz guitarist Joe Pass. He was playing out before the end of high school and making a name for himself in Ottawa’s music scene.

By the mid-90’s, Haynes lived in Ottawa’s Centretown and while he apparently liked it there, Toronto held more opportunities to play one’s own music. He joined the migration of some of his Ottawa musician friends and left for Toronto. He quickly found himself busy with all sorts of projects, including some with well known artists like Tanya Tagaq and Mary Margaret O’Hara. He also taught where he could, including music therapy related work with people on the autism spectrum.

A residency at the National Music Centre in Alberta 2012 seems to have only postponed the problem of making ends meet in Toronto. Haynes was quite candid about his struggles both online and in print.

Justin Haynes’ story is a sad one to tell. The 46-year-old composer and multi-instrumentalist was found dead in his basement apartment on March 13. A sad, premature death in the local arts community, but more frustratingly, Haynes had a lengthy, well respected career. If he couldn’t survive the life of a working musician in Toronto, one wonders if this is an indictment against the cost of living (renting) in Toronto.

Haynes worked with new players, seasoned veterans, on stage, in studios, composing and performing a wide range of styles. He played for audiences of all sizes; from The Rex downtown, to appearances at prestigious festivals across Canada, like the Victoriaville music festival and seminal American festivals including SXSW. He even performed at Canadian embassies.

Despite casting a large net in the musical pond of Toronto, regular gigs as a teacher, composer and player weren’t enough to pay all the bills.

Haynes found himself homeless briefly, and he wrote about life at Seaton House for Now magazine. CBC picked up the story, the city of Toronto officially responded, and it became one of those fleeting moments when homelessness makes the news.

Back off the streets, on ODSP, and living in a 500 square foot basement, Haynes was struggling with personal issues. The single father was trying to qualify for overnight stays with his son in the tiny apartment.

Despite recognition for Haynes musical pedigree among musicians, he spent years living hand to mouth. He wrote jazz, folk, solo and group music. The musician was well ensconced in soundscape creation, a growing field, but not necessarily a revenue stream.

A GoFundMe page was opened for his 12-year-old son, George Freeland-Haynes where the community came together and donated over $40,000.

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S.A.C. Spotify Episode 7: Remembering Justin Haynes. Click here to listen.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

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: Lillian Allen

LillianAllen

Writer; Poet; Performer; dub poetry embodies these three characteristics, distinguishing it from singers or poets. As a pioneer in the dub poetry world, Lillian Allen has written, recorded and performed for decades. The Juno award winner has published books, advised community advocacy groups and the government alike on various social issues and now teaches at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University).

“Black History Month reminds me of the soulfulness of my ancestors whose vestiges of heritage and culture we carry with us as a people everywhere we go; what an amazing connection this gives us. We are like our own worldwide web. Black History Month calls on not just Black people but our entire country to reflect on and celebrate the resistance, hopes, sacrifices and achievements of Black people & our culture and our vital contribution to human enterprise, both tangible and intangible. It should also be a reminder that unequal societal conditions, marginalization, lack of opportunities especially among a section of our youth, was not always so and can and must be countered with culture, economic upliftment and participation in society’s processes.”

Lillian Allen grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica and emigrated to Kitchener/Waterloo Canada in 1969 and later moved to New York City to pursue her studies and back to Canada where she settled in Toronto in the mid 1970’s.

Reading and performing her brand of poetry at community events to much accolades, her first of many books, Rhythm an’ Hard Times was published in 1982. Her first recording came out the following year. Active in Toronto’s arts & culture scenes, she collaborated with many musicians and artists.

Allen’s interest in writing and performing dub poetry received a jolt when she encountered the original dub poet Oku Onuora at a 1978 writers’ conference in Cuba. Onuora recorded the first dub poetry album, “Reflections in Red,” in 1979. Music is a fundamental component of dub poetry; the beat, usually reggae, is meant to add momentum to the uttered verses.

Lillian Allen was part of the first wave of dub poets including Mutabaraka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, credited with coining the term in a 1976 article. Johnson later explained he was referring to the rise of “toasting” among Jamaican deejays which developed into chattering or even singing along with extant songs and instrumentals. Dub Poetry is not toasting or “singjaying” though; there is a gravitas to the words which is not a requirement in reggae singing or toasting.

She explains in De Dub Poets her desire “to work within a form whose aim was to increase the dynamism of poetry, to increase it’s impact and immediacy, a poetic form that could incorporate many aspects of other art forms: performance, drama, fiction, theatre” and other elements. Her records “Revolutionary Tea Party” (1986) and “Conditions Critical” (1988) won Juno awards.

Allen co-founded the Dub Poetry Collective in between publishing books and performing live before assuming a new role, as a professor, at OCAD University.

Allen is currently developing a new BFA program in creative writing. The program will include performing, digital art forms and other elements integral to creative expression in 2019.

 

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

 

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Click here to listen to Lillian Allen’s new single on S.A.C.’s Spotify playlist Ep. 5 Black History Songwriters Series

 

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Playlist:

Song: Revolutionary Tea Party

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Rub A Dub Style Inna Regent Park

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Conditions Critical

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: I Dream a Redwood

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: AllMusic

 

Song: Woken & Unbroken

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Spotify

 

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.

A Conversation With Miranda Mulholland

Bill King was a recent guest on Blair Packham and Bob Reid’s In the Studio radio hour at Newstalk 1010, where Blair introduced him to Miranda Mulholland, a Canadian fiddle player and singer. In this interview Miranda talks about her festival, the Sawdust City Music Festival, and tells us what is upcoming for her this summer.

Read the full FYI Music News interview here!

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BlueBird North is now SongBird North

Intro SongBird North Slide

This name change announcement from Bluebird North to SongBird North concerns the showcase concert series presented by the Songwriters Association of Canada and sponsorship partners across Canada. We asked the Vancouver series’ host, Shari Ulrich, to write a statement outlining the idea behind the change.

“I performed at the very first Bluebird North presented by Amy Sky and Marc Jordon in Toronto almost 25 years ago. Other than Folk Festival workshops, I’d never experienced a song circle and fell in love with the format. In 1995, fellow board member Ron Irving launched the event in Vancouver, and for 21 years now I have produced and eventually hosted the series. When the word came that we would have to change the name, after some passionate whining, I quickly realized, it isn’t the name that makes the event so special, it is the remarkable songwriters from across the country, who say yes to sharing a stage with other great writers and their songs with the most appreciative audiences a songwriter could ever hope to have. Every evening is unique, magical, enlightening and highly entertaining. Songbird North will certainly be soaring long into the future thanks to the vision of the SAC.”

– SongBird North YVR Vancouver, Host – Shari Ulrich.

Checkout the SongBird Vancouver Facebook Page

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@SongwritersofCa

Checkout the website for more details.