Damhnait Doyle

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“Liquor Store Flowers” is the first solo oeuvre from Newfoundlander Damhnait Doyle in 11 years; Doyle was working with The Heartbroken, doing film work, and participating on Boards of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Association of Canada, and SOCAN. At a music industry conference in Mexico City earlier this year, she spoke on gender equity in music.

Damhnait Doyle was born December 9, 1975, in Labrador City and grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. 17 years later, she found herself recording in Toronto, fresh out of high school and on her way to  multiple awards from SOCAN, the ECMAs as well as a couple of JUNO nominations. Having grown up singing and playing guitar and clarinet, Doyle released her first album in 1996, called “Shadows Wake Me”. The debut included “A List Of Things” which was nominated for a JUNO.

Her 2000 follow up, “Hyperdramatic” garnered a couple of East Coast Music Awards. In 2003 she released “Davnet” (the phonetic spelling of Doyle’s first name) and began releasing albums as part of the band Shaye, starting with “The Bride” that same year.   

As a shy young performer, Doyle found drinking helped ease performing jitters, and joined the legions of musicians who like a drink or three. Playing alcohol-selling venues like bars and clubs made it seem more natural to drink on the job, as it were. Liquor-free for eight months now, Doyle says many of her fellow musicians have quit drinking, and she wants to support their initiative by linking them with like-minded performers who still work mostly in bars.

Over the course of a few drinks and decades, Doyle has released eight albums, including with the award-winning Shaye, and, starting in 2009, The Heartbroken. Their single “A List of Things,” cracked the Canadian Top 10.

While touring the country she has shared stages with Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, and Serena Ryder, recruited for a guest spot on Doyle’s new release. “Liquor Store Flowers” has a couple of accompanying videos online, for the title track and for “That’s What You Get.”  Doyle will be opening for Serena Ryder this summer as well as playing other dates.

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.

Don’t forget to check out these Damhnait Doyle songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

Spotify Ep. 10 - S.A.C. Board, Past & Present.png

1. Liquor Store Flowers
Performed and written by: Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: John Dinsmore
Album: Liquor Store Flowers
Source: Sheri Jones Entertainment

2. A List Of Things
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Damhnait Doyle, Tim Welch
Produced by: Ken Myhr
Album: Shadows Wake Me
Source: EMI Music Canada

3. Never Too Late
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Creighton Doane, Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: Dave Hodge
Album: Hyperdramatic
Source: EMI Music Canada

4. That’s What You Get
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Damhnait Doyle, Emily Reid, Robyn Dell’Unto
Produced by: Damhnait Doyle, John Dinsmore
Album: Liquor Store Flowers
Source: Sheri Jones Entertainment

5. Tattooed
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Christopher Ward, Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: David Hodge
Album: Hyperdramatic
Source: EMI Music Canada

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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Shari Ulrich

Shari Ulrich 2019 w violin v2 Sm

Long before her induction to the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, Californian-Canadian Shari Ulrich entered the world in San Rafael, California on October 17, 1951.

At the age of 19 she “ran away” to British Columbia up the coast. It was 1969, and the coffeehouse singer-songwriter scene was still going strong. She was just re-acquainting herself with her grade school violin skills when she joined forces with Rick Scott and Joe Mock. The group they formed was Pied Pumkin, in 1973.

In the early days of the Canadian music business, the arrival of major labels’ regional offices had many a performer optimistic about their music possibly getting heard beyond their immediate stomping grounds in our vast country.

Of course, the major labels didn’t regard Canada as a major country, as Americans sold more records to the Japanese and British than they moved north of their border. When there was a multitude of Canadian record labels, some artists could carve out decent careers, but it was a hard slog.  

Others, feeling left out of the party they’d supposedly been invited to when they first signed a record contract, realized they could release their music independently. Perth County Conspiracy, who released two albums on Columbia, ended up self-releasing their music. Of course, those albums are hard to find now, but they weren’t the only Canadian band that figured keeping the money from a few sales wouldn’t be worse than receiving a pittance and feeling controlled by a huge record label.

Out west, there was the afore-mentioned Pied Pumkin. Forming their own “pumkin” related label, Squash Records; the band managed to sell some 30 thousand copies of their first two records. Their first album, ”The Pied Pumkin String Ensemble” came out in 1974. The album was recorded at Simon Fraser University from a truck outside. Ulrich played dulcimer, saxophone, flute, mandolin, and violin.

Pied Pumkin records were financed by charging fans 5 bucks each- before the record was made. Crowd funding before the Internet, or even touch tone telephones. The band played out west, mostly in B.C. and Alberta with some treks to Ontario.

Ulrich left Pied Pumkin to back fellow west coast singer Valdy in The Hometown Band in 1976. Valdy toured more expansively and Ulrich found herself on stages across the country. In Toronto over the years, she has played stages from living rooms to Massey Hall to Maple Leaf Gardens. Ulrich signed with 2 major labels before reverting to controlling her music independently. She appears on “The Pear of Pied Pumkin,” recorded by the “Pear” – the remaining two members of Pied Pumkin, courtesy of A&M Records. This is almost certainly the first Canadian record with a song questioning the wisdom of Canada hosting the Olympics.

The Hometown Band won a Juno in 1978 for Most Promising Group of the Year. Nonetheless, they folded soon after their second album was released, when A&M cancelled their the Ontario leg of their US tour hours before their Juno award win for Most Promising New Group in another up and down moment with a big record label.

Ulrich recorded two solo l.p’s of original songs for A&M, “Long Nights” and “One Step Ahead.” Unfortunately, a deal involving MCA in the U.S. and a purge at therein found her newly recorded third solo album, “Talk Around Town,” lost in the shuffle on the eve of it’s US release. While lacking any American distribution, Ulrich won the Most Promising Female Vocalist Juno Award in 1981.

Ulrich moved to Bowen Island in 1993 with her then-husband David Graff to raise their 3 year old daughter Julia. Ulrich and Graff are no longer married, but, always a lover of nature, she remains on Bowen Island. Reflecting on divorce, she comments in-concert, while introducing “You Know I Would,” that a divorce is indicative of a successful marriage that ran it’s course, rather than as a failed effort.

Always fond of collaboration, Shari joined forces with Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes (UHF) in 1989; with Barney Bentall & Tom Taylor (BTU) in 2008, and in 2010, Ulrich joined the bluegrass band The High Bar Gang with Bentall and Colin Nairne.

In the intervening years, Ulrich has continued to release music independently, and make songwriting her focus and now has some 25 solo and group records to her credit and  2014 CFMA for English Songwriter of the Year. Pied Pumkin has played sporadic reunions since 1999, and in 2016 The Hometown Band reunited and toured with Valdy.

Away from microphones and instruments, Ulrich has taught at Humber, UBC, the VSO School of Music and continues to host the Songwriters Association of Canada SongBird North Series in Vancouver as she has for 23 years. Ulrich is now releasing her ninth solo album, her second back with a record label – Borealis. Her daughter, now a busy sound engineer, producer and music editor in film & television has engineered  and co-produced her last 3 albums and tours with Shari regularly as a multi-instrumentalist. She will be releasing “Back to Shore” on June 18 at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver, but will be coming to Ontario and the Maritmes later in the summer.

  • July 20-21 Perth
  • August 6 Toronto
  • August 7 Halifax

http://www.shariulrich.com

 

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.

Don’t forget to check out these Shari Ulrich songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

Spotify Ep. 10 - S.A.C. Board, Past & Present.png

1. Everywhere I Go
Album: Everywhere I Go
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

2. One Sky
Album: Everywhere I Go
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

3. Find Our Way
Album: Find Our Way
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

4. Life Goes On
Album: Find Our Way
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
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.

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.

Spotify Ep. 8. West Coast

Spotify Ep. 8 (2)

Greetings, fellow Songwriters!

Here we have another cool playlist for this year – Ep. 8. West Coast. This playlists consists of submissions we had over the course of the last few months from our members from West Coast provinces. Be sure to give it a listen by clicking here and, as always, subscribe for updates!

The featured artists and songs are below:

 

Alexandria Maillot – Messed it Up

Release Year: 2018

Performed by: Alexandria Maillot

Written by: Alexandria Maillot

Produced by: Samuel Hewson Woywitka, Alexandria Maillot

Source: CDBaby

 

Edie Daponte – Sliver of Time

Album: Alegria

Release Year: 2019

Performed by: Edie Daponte

Written by: Edie Daponte

Source: CDBaby

 

Josh Bogert – Dad’s Car

Release Year: 2019

Performed by: Josh Bogert

Written by: Josh Bogert, Andy Delisi, John Mavrogiannis

Produced by: Sean Fischer

Source: CDBaby

 

Ria Jade – Wild Things

Release Year: 2019

Performed by: Ria Jade

Written by: Ria Jade

Source: CDBaby

 

Chamelion – I Love You for You

Release Year: 2019

Performed by: Chamelion

Written by: Chamelion

Produced by: Chamelion

Source: Chamelion

 

Kim Thompson – Game of Love

Release Year: 2019

Performed by: Kim Thompson

Written by: Kim Thompson

Produced by: MCC Studio

Source: Kim Thompson

 

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. International Women’s Day Focus: Salome Bey

Salome Bey_ International Women's Day March 8, 2019 (IG) (4)

She’s won awards for her stage work – singing, acting, and writing. She toured the U.S. with her brother and sister, billed as Andy and the Bey Sisters. The sibling act also toured Europe. Touring brought Salome Bey to her soon-to-be-adopted country, Canada, in 1961. She would settle here permanently some five years later.

Salome Bey was born in Newark, one of nine children, on October 10, 1933. Bey played music from an early age, but didn’t release her own records until 1970, when, perhaps making up for lost time, both CBC and Canadian Talent Library (with Quality Records) each put out eponymous Salome Bey albums. To add to that confusion, some, but not all the cuts appear on both records.

Starting with “Spring Thaw” in Toronto in 1969, Bey performed in stage musicals through much of the 1970’s, bouncing between New York City and Toronto. She recorded vocals on a couple of Horace Silver albums in the early 1970’s. Galt McDermot’s record label, released “Songs from Dude” in 1972. He wrote the songs which Bey sang in her lead role in the Broadway production.

Bey found success on and off Broadway, winning an OBIE (Off-Broadway theatre award) for “Love Me, Love My Children.” On Broadway, “Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God” resulted in a Grammy nomination for the original cast recording.

In 1978-79, Bey wrote and starred in “Indigo,” a musical production about the history of Black music. She also played a string of European jazz festivals, and some of this material was released by Radio Canada (French CBC) as “Jazz Canada Europe” in 1979. Bey’s voice can also be heard on some live recordings by The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Continuing to celebrate the history of Black music, Bey, wrote and directed shows featuring Black female blues singers, including Madame Gertrude, about Ma Rainy which starred Jackie Richardson. “Sweetmama” was a staged biography Ethel Waters.

Salome Bey wrote and directed shows that showcased black female blueswomen — a play called “Madame Gertrude” (about Ma Rainey, the mother of the blues, and starred Jackie Richardson), also a play called “Sweetmama” (about the life and times of Ethel Waters)

Dubbed “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues,” Salome Bey received the Order of Canada award in 2005.

Sadly, she began showing signs of dementia in her 60’s, and she will not be able to perform in public again.

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. 6

Playlist:

Song: Washed Away
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Untitled Love Song
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Young At Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Am I Blue
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: A Kiss To Build A Dream On
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Warrior
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Know My Name
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Hill Kourkoutis
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Mama Talk To Me
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: The Answer
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, W.Mccord
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Dirty Little Lie
Performed by: SATE
Written by: SATE, Hill Kourkoutis, Merna Bishouty, Ricky Tillo
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Dirty Little Lie
Release Year: 2019
Source: YouTube, 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: Dan Hill

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www.danhill.com
How does one describe the creative force driving Dan Hill? Nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Vocal, winner of a Grammy (as co-producer of “Seduces Me” on Celine Dion’s 30 plus million-selling “Falling Into You” album), winner of five Juno Awards and the Harold Moon Award (Canadian Lifetime Songwriting Achievement Award), Dan has recorded and released multiple gold and platinum albums.

Imagine this; you’re in your early twenties, you wrote and performed one of the biggest songs of the year. Not even Canada – big, but a monster seller in America, where artists would cover the song within a year and more cover versions would be released over the coming decades. To your father, you’ll never be Bruce Cockburn, and your success doesn’t mean much to the author and renowned Black Canadian civil rights activist. In about 30 years, you will come to terms with your relationship by releasing the record and the book “I Am My Father’s Son.” Bittersweet?

Dan Hill, best known for “Sometimes When We Touch,” grew up in one of Toronto’s inner suburbs, the son of American social activists and brother to two future authors. Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes) and his late sister Karen were both prominent Canadians, and Dan’s father Daniel G. Hill’s activism brought him to serve as the first full time Director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 1962. He married fellow civil rights campaigner Donna Bender in 1953, becoming one of Toronto’s first few mixed race couples. Needless to say, expectations were high when it came to the Hill children.

Born in 1954, Daniel Grafton Hill IV started playing guitar as a kid and was playing Yorkville coffeehouses while still a high school student. RCA Records signed him as a songwriter for a few years until Hill managed to leave RCA and release his first album on the Canadian GRT label in 1975. The eponymous debut yielded a Canadian hit, “You Make Me Want To Be.”

A couple of years later, Hill recorded a ballad he wrote at 17, when he felt insecure in a relationship with an older woman. “Sometimes When We Touch” was, of course, a massive success. It reached #3 in Billboard’s American charts, #1 in Canada and cover versions came quickly, from Tina Turner in 1978 and Cleo Laine in 1979, with many more versions to come.

Dan Hill went on to record more hits, including “It’s A Long Road” from Rambo’s debut, “First Blood” (recorded for the movie). “Can’t We Try?” was Billboard’s Adult Contemporary song of the year in 1987, and another big hit came the following year with “Never Thought (That I Could Love).”

Hill’s flair for composing epic songs led him to work with stars like Celine Dion (for which he won a Grammy). He has worked with many other modern hit-makers, such as Britney Spears, 98 Degrees, Michael Bolton and The Backstreet Boys.

Despite his five Junos, other awards and millions of records sold, Daniel Sr. seemed unimpressed with Dan’s achievements. After some success with country music, his father gave him grief for working in a racist genre. Rebelling against this, Hill described feeling indifferent about his own mixed race as a kid, and perhaps even postponing contemplation on this aspect of his identity, as a response to his always race-conscious father.

Oddly, Dan found himself in the throes of writer’s block in 2003 following the death of his father. He has described how sad times had previously inspired him to pick up a guitar and write, compounding the frustration of not composing.

In early 2009, Hill published I Am My Father’s Son; A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness. He has written for Macleans and elsewhere about other struggles in recent years; with his own son, the deaths of his father, mother, and sister, as well as prostate cancer, diagnosed shortly before a concert.

2010 saw the departure of lifelong friend and sometime musical collaborator Paul Quarrington. Hill also released his c.d. “Intimate” that year.

While he is best known for sweeping ballads, Hill’s folk / coffeehouse background led him to a variety of collaborations. He has worked with Nova Scotian Joe Sealy on “The Road” from the latter artist’s “Africville Suite” c.d.

Dan Hill keeps busy with performing (he was at Hugh’s Room in January) and he announced a deal with Ole (sic) Publishing in mid 2018. Hill also offers songwriting mentoring via Skype, if you contact him through his website, http://www.danhill.com.

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.5

Playlist:

Song: Sometimes When We Touch
Performed by: Dan Hill
Lyrics written by: Dan Hill
Music written by: Mann

Song: I Am My Father’s Son
Performed by: Dan Hill
Lyrics and music written by: Dan Hill

Song: You Make Me Want To Be
Performed by: Dan Hill
Lyrics and music written by: Dan Hill

Song: I Fall All Over Again
Performed by: Dan Hill
Lyrics and music written by: Dan Hill

 

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.