Alessia Cara, Bayla and Triumph were the three musical acts to receive notable distinctions at Canada’s Walk of Fame 21st annual gala staged at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre Saturday night.
Getting recognition at this year’s event meant the world to Cara.
"I feel like getting acknowledged by your own country in this way is huge," the 23-year-old performer said on the red carpet before she received the special 2019 Allan Slaight Music Impact honour on Saturday night.
"It's one of those things where I'm going to have to see it to actually believe it."
The Walk of Fame was first conceived in 1996 when co-founder Peter Soumalias suggested a Walk of Fame for famous Torontonians to the board of the Toronto Entertainment District Association. They rejected his idea, but he went on to establish a Walk of Fame for Canadians in partnership with Bill Ballard, Dusty Cohl and Gary Slaight.
The Allan Slaight Music Impact honour was introduced in 2010 and Cara is the 10th recipient of the trophy that “recognizes the achievements of young Canadians who can turn their talent into inspiration.”
A spokesperson for her generation, she was recognized as the Breakthrough Artist of the Year in the 2016 Juno Awards and honoured as Best New Artist at the 2018 Grammys, a first for a Canadian artist in the category.
Montreal indie artist Bayla, born Brittany Kwasnik, is the Grand Prize winner in Canada’s Walk of Fame 7th annual RBC Emerging Musicians program.
The win comes with a cash prize of $20,000, recording time at Metalworks Studios, album art cover design, networking opportunities with music industry pros, plus an appearance at the Toronto gala on Nov. 23.
Her debut single, Turn It Around, reached Top 40 on Canadian radio charts and peaked at #24 on Billboard (in 2015). She has since opened for many artists, including Simple Plan, Lights, and Bif Naked. With an emphasis on self-acceptance and living life to the fullest, she states: “My music and journey as a singer-songwriter can hopefully remind listeners that they can do anything, especially if they've been told they can't.”
Triumph’s Gil Moore, Mike Levine and Rik Emmett were given entrance to accept their honourary award by longstanding friend and fellow journeyman Tom Cochrane who was both serious in his praise of the trio’s accomplishments and in his demeanour.
Formed in 1975 and signed to Attic Records a year later, Triumph's hook-laden power rock caught the ear of San Antonio concert promoter and Dj Joe Anthony who put several of their songs into power rotation and booked them for five shows across Texas.
It was the band’s breakout moment and they just kept going, selling several million albums along the way and becoming giants on the stadium rock circuit in North America and Europe.
Among their notable headlining shows was an appearance at California’s US festival in 1983. The brainchild of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and staged in conjunction with concert promoter Bill Graham, the festival reportedly attracted 670,000 fans over three days, and lost US$12M. Triumph’s Sunday show was set between Judas Priest and the Scorpions, in front of an audience pegged at about 225,000 people.
Following Surveillance in 1986, the band members went their separate ways, with Emmett forging a successful solo career, Moore founding the Metalworks studio complex and music academy, and Levine actively merchandising the band’s brand and songs. They sold their copyrights for a high figure to an American IP firm several years ago, and more recently have reunited for a documentary. Entitled Triumph: Lay It On the Line. The 2020 release is a co-production between Banger Films, in association with Revolver Films and Bell Media’s streaming service Crave. Gary Slaight is a co-investor in the project.
The doc is likely to be released in conjunction with a ‘tribute’ album featuring notables in the genre performing the band’s string of hit songs and there is talk of some reunion shows featuring Emmett, Moore and Levine.
Following Triumph's moment on stage, Gowan took to the spotlight to perform a medley of the band's best-known songs with a nine-piece Rock Army. It was an electric performance as the frontman from Styx commanded the stage in perfect pitch and played his electronic keyboard as if he were part Billy Joel, part Elton John. The show ended with a waterfall of white lightning from flash pods and sundry other pyrotechnic gear.
Seven other influential names were added to Canada's Walk of Fame during the event, including architect Frank Gehry, hockey player Mark Messier, investor Jim Treliving, speed skater Cindy Klassen, actor Will Arnett, basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith, and Mr. Dressup's Ernie Coombs (in-depth profiles on Canada's Walk of Fame website).
Walk of Fame CEO Jeffrey Latimer earns high praise for the evening’s spectacular staging and overall execution.
Almost sticking to its schedule, the high-profile Canadians elicited a range of emotions in the convention hall that had the appearance of being anything but.
The awards broadcast is slated for December 2019 on CTV.