Donna Grantis. Instagram
Donna Grantis. Instagram

Music News Digest, Jan. 21, 2019

The huge popularity of the Justin Bieber exhibit, Steps to Stardom at the Stratford Perth Museum in the singer's Ontario hometown, has led to a book. Written by general manager John Kastner, Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom explores the success story of the exhibit, one that has attracted Beliebers from around the globe. Bieber contributed a foreword to the book. Source: Stratford Beacon-Herald

–  The recent airing of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, one that detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the R&B star, has now reportedly led to Kelly parting ways with Sony, according to Billboard. Kelly signed to the Jive label in the early '90s, and that label later became part of Sony BMG. He has been under contract at RCA, a Sony subsidiary, since 2012.

–  Over the past week, public protests over his behaviour have been accompanied by harsh words from such peers as Lady Gaga, Chance The Rapper and Phoenix, all of whom apologized for collaborating with the singer. Kelly's catalogue will remain with RCA/Sony and his music is still available on digital retailers and streaming services. Two of Kelly's biggest songs, “Ignition” and “I Believe I Can Fly” -- returned to the R&B Digital Song Sales chart after the documentary was shown.

–  Ariana Grande has claimed a major Spotify record. Her new hit, "7 Rings," just tallied the most plays on the platform ever seen within 24 hours. The track officially accrued 14,966,544 global plays on Spotify on day one, after being released on Friday. The previous 24-hour record holder was "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey – which attracted 10,819,009 Spotify streams on December 24, 2018. Source: MBW

–  In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a bed-in at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montréal, where they penned and recorded the pacifist anthem “Give Peace a Chance.” To mark the event's 50th anniversary, attendees at the Folk Alliance International (FAI) conference in Montréal and others are invited to participate in a bed-in by live-streaming a performance of “Give Peace a Chance” from their beds on Feb. 16 at 9:30 am ET. Details here

– Via a FB post by Six Shooter head Shauna De Cartier, we have learned that Canadian bluegrass faves The Dead South have recruited famed producer/engineer Jimmy Nutt to helm their next album. Since 2006, he has worked out of the The NuttHouse Recording Studio in downtown Sheffield, Alabama. Nutt's formidable resume includes a Grammy and work with Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, Jimmy Buffett, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Drive-By Truckers, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Little Feat, Alabama Shakes, and many more. The Dead South's 2016 viral hit video "In Hell, I'll Be In Good Company" has tallied 99M YouTube views.

– APTN is conducting a National Indigenous Music Impact Study (NIMIS), the first of its kind in Canada. The study will look at the challenges and successes that the Indigenous music community faces, and will estimate the economic contributions and other impacts that this community has on Canada. Participants may be asked to take part in phone interviews, group discussions and an online survey. More info here

– The 6ix is a slang term for Toronto that has undeniably been popularized by homeboy Drake. He sought to trademark the term but has now lost out on the grounds he wasn't the first to it. Drake and his October's Very Own (OVO) company submitted the bid for the trademark back in the summer of 2015. Source: Narcity

– Keeping track of Toronto guitar hero/producer Ian Blurton's projects ain't easy. His prolific 35 year-plus career has included the mighty Change of Heart, Blurtonia, Tricky Woo, Nashville Pussy, and more. The bearded one has just unleashed his newest outfit, Ian Blurton’s Future Now, and a buzz is quickly growing. The all-star lineup includes Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo), Anna Ruddick, and Aaron Goldstein (City and Colour). Check out the gloriously heavy first single, “Space is Forever," via The Obelisk. The group plays Hamilton's This Ain’t Hollywood (with Not Of) on Feb. 2.

– APCM (Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique) has announced the nominees for the 10th edition of Trille Or, a bi-annual music celebration celebrating Francophone music. A total of 76 artists and industry professionals are nominated in a total of 29 categories. Trille Or runs April 29 to May 2, during the official Francophone Music Week in Ontario. More info here

– Long a popular figure on the Toronto scene, music scribe Lenny Stoute is dealing with serious health issues that are harming his ability to work. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help out. 

– Darkwave/post-punk music festival Verboden has announced that its fourth annual edition comes to Vancouver, April 11-14, at The Astoria and the Rickshaw Theater. Artists set so far include Boy Harsher, Light Asylum, Mr Kitty. The Foreign Resort, Kontravoid, The Gathering, SIGSALY, and Ivory Towers. Tix here 

– Monster Truck returns to the happy hunting ground of Europe in April for a 25 date headline tour. The Hamilton hard rockers have announced Edmonton band Royal Tusk as support on all dates.

– Torontonian Donna Grantis, turned heads as the co-lead guitarist in Prince’s celebrated funk-rock band, 3RDEYEGIRL, and a member of his legendary supergroup, New Power Generation. She releases debut solo album, Diamonds & Dynamite, March 22, via eOne. Grantis plays an album release show in Minneapolis on March 28.

–  Music BC presents a Workshop entitled ‘Fostering a Respectful Workplace’ on Feb. 8 at its offices. It is designed to give participants the tools to address issues of harassment and safety within their workplace. The seminar includes a presentation by Melanie Samuels (Partner, Singleton Reynolds); RSVP for the free event here


Reggie Young, famed US session guitarist, died on Jan. 17, age 82.

He served as the anchor of house bands at Memphis’ Hi Records and American Studios. His guitar work graced such classic hits as Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,”  the Box Tops' "Cry Like a Baby," Elvis Presley’s "Suspicious Minds" and "In the Ghetto,” and hundreds more. He was a key sideman to Elvis, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and more. 

Despite his prolific career as a sideman, Young waited until 2017 to release his first solo album, Forever Young, a collection of soulful original instrumental compositions, via UK label Ace Records. Later this month — which marks the 50th anniversary of Young and the American Boys' sessions with Elvis Presley — Ace is set to release Reggie Young: Session Guitar Star, a compilation highlighting Young's work in the studio.  Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

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