Terri Clark
Terri Clark

Music News Digest, June 8, 2018

The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) has announced 19-time CCMA Award and three-time Juno Award winner Terri Clark as the 2018 artist inductee to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. She will be honoured as a part of the CCMA Awards nationwide broadcast on CBC, from FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton on Sept. 9. Clark has sold more than five million albums worldwide since releasing her self-titled debut album in 1995.

 Situated at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, the 1,135 seat Koerner Hall is now well-established as one of the city's premier concert venues. It recently announced its 10th anniversary season, one covering many different musical genres. The sixth annual 21C Festival of new music will be held next January, with the presence of famed US composer Terry Riley a highlight. Opening concerts include Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, conducted by Yannick Nézét-Séguin.

– Feldman Agency (TFA) has announced that Steven Himmelfarb has joined the company as an agent, effective immediately. He has worked for The Billions Corporation for the past ten years representing a roster of more than thirty-five artists throughout Canada, the United States, South America and Asia. That list includes Charlotte Day Wilson, Pup, Lord Huron, Beirut, Wolf Parade, Wintersleep, and New Pornographers.

– Off The Rail Brewing Company has created the “Spirit Lifter” pilsner to raise awareness and funds for Spirit of The West singer John Mann's on-going treatments. In 2014, the then 51-year-old Mann received a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's and a year later the band performed their farewell concert during a three-night run at Vancouver's  Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. The beer will be available at BC liquor stores and licensed retail locations June 15 to Sept. 1. Of note: Off The Rail is owned by Steve Forsyth, whose sister Janet managed SOTW for many years. The Forsyth family previously owned the Railway Club.

– The Toronto Mendelssohn Choir has announced the appointment of David Fallis as interim conductor and artistic advisor, effective to the end of the 2019-20 season. Fallis was previously artistic director of the Toronto Consort. The TMC's previous conductor and artistic director Noel Edison left the post after being accused of multiple instances of inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment.

– Drake and Sam Roberts figure prominently on the list of albums and singles earning certifications from Music Canada over the past month. Drizzy earned 6x platinum for "God's Plan" and 5x platinum for "Nice For What," while Roberts was awarded 2x platinum for his We Were Born In A Flame album and platinum for Chemical City. Eric Lapointe went gold for his album Delivrance, Loud Luxury earned 2x platinum for the "Body" single, with Shawn Mendes certified 5x platinum for "There's Nothing Holding Me Back."

– Roncy Rocks is a popular annual free fest in Toronto's Roncesvalles Ave 'hood. Organiser Luke Jackson has assembled another strong lineup for the June 9 event, one featuring Trevor Cape & The Field, Lindy Vopnfjörd, Melanie Brulée, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Conor Gains, Dana Sipos, Ghost Caravan, Kyp Harness, and more.

– The Aurora Illumination Concert Series is a nation-wide series of free concerts. Saskatoon's concert is set for June 29 at O'Brians Event Centre and is headlined by DJ and producer Rezz, the recent recipient of the Juno Award for the best Electronic Album of the year. Registration for free tickets is now open.

– Pianist/composer Jeremy Ledbetter's trio has a debut album, Got A Light, ready to roll via Alma Records. Featuring eight original compositions plus a version of “Gift Shop” by The Tragically Hip, it will be launched at Lula Lounge in Toronto on June 13, two days before the official release date. The rhythm section comprises Rich Brown (rinsethealgorithm) and Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy). Ledbetter has worked extensively with CaneFire, David Rudder, and Eliana Cuevas.

– Quebecois hip-hop artist Obia Le Chef will perform at Montréal's Francofolies Festival on June 9 (Desjardins Stage • corner of Ste. Catherine and Jeanne Mance Streets). He recently put out a video for the track “Scuse,” from the just-released album Soufflette.

Mandolinist/composer Andrew Collins (Foggy Hogtown Boys, Creaking Tree String Quartet) has won seven Canadian Folk Music awards and been nominated for five Junos. His Trio recently released two albums, Tongue and Groove (one vocal, one instrumental), and plays a CD release party at Lula Lounge in Toronto on Sunday, closing out the LulaWorld festival. Highly recommended.


Brian Browne, veteran Canadian jazz pianist, died on June 5, age 81. According to Browne's family, lung and tracheal cancer caused his death. His music career spanned half a century. Considered one of the hottest jazz pianists in Canada in the 1960s, Browne performed regularly on CBC Radio's Adventures in Rhythm and CBC TV's Jazz Piano.

Born in Montreal, Browne moved to Ottawa with his family when he was 16, and by the age of 18 he was playing professionally despite never having learned to read music. Up until 2016, he continued performing in numerous restaurants and clubs in Ottawa before winding down his professional career over the past two years.

A memorial service will take place June 15 at 2 p.m. at MacKay United Church in Ottawa's New Edinburgh neighbourhood. Sources: CBC.ca, Ottawa Citizen

Clarence Fountain, founding member and longtime leader of the gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama, died June 3 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the age of 88.

Born in Tyler, Alabama, Fountain was enrolled at the age of eight into the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind. His first group was the Happy Land Jubilee Singers. That group toured throughout the Forties and recorded the 1948 hit "I Can See Everybody's Mother But Mine" before changing their name to the Blind Boys of Alabama at the turn of the decade. The Blind Boys of Alabama would later perform at benefits for Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Despite being one of the more famed black gospel groups during the Fifties, the Blind Boys of Alabama's popularity waned in the late Sixties and Seventies as secular soul music emerged.

In 1983, the Fountain-led group staged an Off-Broadway production of Gospel at Colonus. The production won two Obie Awards and received nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Awards. Since 2002, The Blind Boys of Alabama have won five Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Gospel Album, most recently for 2009's Down in New Orleans. The group was also given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

Fountain's declining health, brought on by complications of diabetes, prevented touring with the Blind Boys of Alabama from 2007, but he continued to record with the group, including their 2017 album Almost Home. Source: Rolling Stone

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