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.

Patrick Ballantyne

Patrick Ballantyne
Photo by: Ian Albert

Patrick Ballantyne is a busy man. The singer-songwriter’s other occupations include C.E.O. of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario, as well as Board Chair at the Songwriters Association of Canada.

Raised in Windsor on a steady sonic diet of legendary AM station CKLW, Patrick the kid picked up a guitar and started teaching himself in his teens before joining forces with his friend Gordie Johnson to write songs together. Ballantyne cites prog sounds in general and The Beatles in particular as lifelong influences.

Ballantyne and Johnson went their separate ways before Big Sugar happened, with Johnson pursuing music as a career  and Ballantyne becoming a lawyer. The pair still continued to write songs together over the years. Patrick’s connection to music and background in law brings both the tenacity and a heartfelt interest in seeing songwriters get their due.

When  Ballantyne’s family life and career allowed, he wrote with Wide Mouth Mason, ECMA Award winner Tim Chaisson (“Beat This Heart”), The Trews, and other Canadian songwriters.

In 2008, Ballantyne’s self titled debut album was released. “Days of Rain” came a few years later in 2014. Ballantyne regularly tinkers in his home studio, developing new songs. 2014 also saw him win Now Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Songwriter of the Year. “I’m not sure how NOT to make music!” is how he explained it to the S.A.C.

Ballantyne’s process, he explained, is basically riffing on his acoustic guitar until a melody comes to him, and then, once the music is laid out, he’ll “scramble for words that fit.”

When asked about writing for specific genres of popular music, Ballantyne, ever the home studio guy, maintains “I write what I feel… the rest is production.”

In 2016, Ballantyne accelerated this method to compose and record a song a month. This yielded the album “Calendar,” the following year.

His new album, “Sky’” mixes both older and newer songs, and the instrumentation branches out across different styles. Still, the songs work together to create an album, rather than a collection of new-to-one’s-audience songs. “The album was very much conceived as a single unit, to be digested in a single listening,” he explains.

Advocating for songwriters’ royalties and rights, Ballantyne believes the music industry, as a whole, should, “whenever possible, speak with a unified voice.”

With respect to the Songwriters Association of Canada, Ballantyne is ready to “fight to ensure we are fairly compensated for the obvious and significant value of our songs.”

“Sky,” Ballantyne’s fourth release, launches tonight at The Moonshine Café in Oakville, Ontario.

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 Patrick Ballantyne songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

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

1. My Favourite Way to Turn You On
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

2. The Look of You Gone
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

3. Someone You Should Know
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

4. What’s a Girl to Do
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

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. Pro Member, Lennie Gallant, Inducted Into The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

Lennie Gallant Graphic.png

A song taking on its own life is surely among the most gratifying of events in the life of a songwriter. As “Peter’s Dream” turns 25 years old and its author and singer Lennie Gallant prepared to commemorate the song at a special ceremony in Charlottetown during the East Coast Music Awards, the hard topic of the song must seem an ironic sentiment to celebrate. The song appeared on Gallant’s album “The Open Window” in 1994 and has been recorded on a number of live projects since then. The ceremony itself is to induct the song into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gallant says he is deeply honoured to have his song chosen and be part of a national collection of songs by his songwriting heroes.

The enduring popularity of a song about the collapse of the east coast fishery that left tens of thousands unemployed in a long unstable regional economy, a song that remains sadly topical 25 years later, must come with some pangs of frustration with Maritime living standards.

Lennie Gallant was born in Rustico, Prince Edward Island, the eldest of six. The family lived in a small apartment above their grandfather’s grocery store in Rustico. Despite having three Francophone grandparents in Acadian-populated Prince Edward Island, there was no French school in Rustico by the time Lennie was a student. The village was surrounded by English communities and the French language had eventually almost completely disappeared. Consequently, he spoke no French as a child but Gallant would, later, pursue the language of his Acadian heritage and eventually even write and record two of his 12 albums in the language of Molière.

In the meantime, young Gallant received a guitar for his thirteenth year Christmas and taught himself to play. His mother played piano by ear, and along with his father, often participated in musical comedy shows in small community halls to raise money for local families in need due to sick kids, accidents, or fires etc. As soon as Lennie learned a few chords on the guitar he was enlisted to join and so began his musical career.

In 1988 he released his first album, “Breakwater.” “Believing in Better” followed in 1992, but his breakthrough came two years after that, with his album “The Open Window” which was released by Sony and contained the soon-to-be Maritime classic “Peter’s Dream.” A number of award winning albums followed and then Gallant was approached by DKD productions in Montreal to record his first French album in 2002. It was a struggle, as he was still wrestling with the language, but the singer was determined to produce a collection of original French songs that wouldn’t be merely competent, or even good (for an Anglo) but rather, a collection of songs French music fans could properly appreciate and enjoy. “Le Vent Boheme” was the result and won him Acadian album of the year at Les Prix Éloizes and a Francophone East Coast Music Award. Years later, in 2009 he’d win another for his second Francophone album “La Coeur Hanté.” He considers himself primarily an Anglophone writer however, and has won 19 East Coast Music Awards for his English efforts along with three Juno nominations. He even found himself being honoured for his work in both languages as a member of the Order of Canada.

Over the years Gallant released several live albums, the latest of which, 2016’s “Searching for Abegweit” was a double CD and contained all the songs from his much celebrated multimedia theatrical hit, “Searching For Abegweit”. Abegweit is the Mi’Kmaq name for Prince Edward Island, “the place cradled by the waves.” The show was supposed to run for one summer but is so popular it has now been extended to five seasons and has been performed over 160 times.

In 2018, Gallant released “Time Travel” which muses on the subject of time, humanity’s place on Earth and the universe in general. He performed one of its most popular songs, “Sequoia,” at the 2019 East Coast Music Awards accompanied by The Atlantic String Machine orchestra to tremendous reception. Gallant’s music has actually previously experienced real space travel, when Canadian astronaut and current Governor-General Julie Payette brought his album, “When We Get There”, to the International Space Station for the crew to enjoy. The Governor General recently presented Gallant with a mounted photo of that crew and his much travelled album embedded in the piece at a reception in Charlottetown. Gallant’s music has been featured in movies and television, and his songs covered by Maritimers as diverse as The Rankins, Matt Minglewood, and Measha Brueggergosman. Jimmy Buffet has recorded Gallant as well, extolled his praises as a songwriter, and even performed with him on stage. After many summers spent crossing the continent, Lennie Gallant will be spending this next summer in PEI where he will again perform his Island love letter, “Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant”. Fans will be able to catch him on his home turf, where on a clear night, you can sing Peter’s Dream around a campfire and watch the space station pass by overhead.

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 Lennie Gallant songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2ZWk8an

1. Time Travel
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

2. What Are You Waiting For
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

3. Sequoia
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

4. Ghosts in This Town
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
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.

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.

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 – Jay Semko

Jay Semko - SM

Jay Semko is known internationally as singer/bassist with multiple JUNO Award nominees and Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame members The Northern Pikes, and as an award winning music composer for numerous film and TV productions, including the syndicated series, “Due South”. He is considered one of Canada’s premiere singer songwriters, with 10 solo albums released, and has co-written and recorded with many of the best songwriters and musicians in music.

Jay has recently released a new solo album, entitled “Never Sent” – a collection of 10 new songs, and in June 2018 he and the other members of the Northern Pikes were presented with the SOCAN Classic Award for their single “She Ain’t Pretty” receiving over 100,000 plays on Canadian radio. Jay continues to tour across Canada with the Northern Pikes and as a solo acoustic artist, sharing his songs, stories and adventures from his life in music.

  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?

I really don’t have a set “formula” or “schedule” when songwriting, but there are a few things I’ve learned through experience. When I’m writing alone, I tend to do it in pieces, and generally just over the course of a day or so, getting the raw material down and then finding the spots in the lyrics or music that I want to change/improve/edit, that process can continue right up until a final recording of a song – I’ve become quite adept at self-editing (believe me, it didn’t happen overnight!!!) – I trust my instinct, and if there’s something that doesn’t feel right I know I need to revisit it. I find I start with lyrical ideas more often than musical ideas, but there is a fluidity about that and I never want to limit where the good things come from. The nice thing about co-writing with other songwriters, and that includes working with my pals in the Northern Pikes, is that there are others to assist in the editing/quality control process – it just reduces the amount of time/stress/thought expended in that regard (two or more heads are better than one, usually). There are so many options available with the current technology that exists – I’ve written with people in other countries live via the internet, exchanged musical ideas back and forth through snippets on MP3s, thrown lyrical ideas back and forth over the phone and through emails. However, there’s something that can’t be beat about actually sitting together in a room with another human playing acoustic guitars or plonking on the piano. When you’re physically co-writing, a title or theme to start with can really help to “steer the ship” and be a unifier to keep us on the same road. If I’m co-writing I often use my laptop, but I still really like pen and paper – that little bit of extra time to write things down can be good for adding one more level of reality to what’s happening in the creative process, and I like to record things in real time – that first time can sometimes hold magic.

  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?

For me, music is like breathing – it’s just something that’s always there as a part of me, and I always seem to have a melody or phrase lurking around in my head. The biggest challenge is taking the time to physically connect and remember whatever is brewing in there. For me, thoughts and ideas fly around pretty fast, and I need a big musical butterfly net to snag them, which means write it down and or hum it/dictate it it into my phone or other recording device. Music, words, inspiration are all around us at all times and if I keep my mind open to whatever the world/universe/my soul can observe and soak in then the songs are there waiting to be written. Now, having said that, I have been in positions where deadlines must be met for film or television productions or for other reasons, and that is not necessarily a bad thing – being forced to execute and commit when writing can really help me to focus and hone in – as the saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention”, and I must admit that I sometimes utilize adrenalin and time stress to my advantage. Inspiration is everywhere and omnipresent; life, love and relationships have always been, and always will be, an endless well of ideas for songs. They’re just there, waiting to be visited and embraced.

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

I haven’t really had any “formal” education in regards to songwriting – I really just learned through trial and error. I played in various “cover bands” as a teenager, and I believe I learned quite a bit about songs and song forms by osmosis – you subconsciously pick up information about structure, hooks, things that work for audiences and listeners, and things you know you like but can’t really say why. The first “serious band I was in was The Idols, which was when I was 18 – we were a “new wave” band with a do-it-yourself work ethic from that era of punk/new wave bands – we played a lot of relatively obscure covers, and began to write our own songs. I wrote a number of songs that really didn’t have anything special happening, and I just kept at it until there was a change in my writing, both musically and lyrically – the songs got better when I began letting my old preconceptions about what songs should be fly out the window – I started writing lyrics about things that were really happening in my world, and about relationships I had (or wished I had) that were real, with real names, places, events, crushes, loves, heartaches – my confidence grew the more I did it – certainly not an immediate thing – the old axiom “practice makes perfect” (or at least “better”) definitely applies. I worked hard at my writing, and I improved, just as simple as that. Now, as time went on I became exposed to experienced writers with excellent ideas at workshops and on panels at industry events – people like Ralph Murphy and Bill Henderson – I was like many young people in music – I needed to stubbornly find my own way, develop humility, and then improve through osmosis, experience, and snippets of education. Songwriting is such an amazing and all-encompassing art form – I still have so much to learn about it, and I’ll never stop learning about it, it is truly a life’s work.

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