Alexina Louie
Alexina Louie

Music Biz Headlines, Jan. 4, 2021

A new book tells the story of Ruth Lowe, a pioneering Canadian songwriter

Toronto-based songwriter and big-band pianist Ruth Lowe’s composition I'll Never Smile Again rocketed both Lowe and Frank Sinatra to stardom in 1940. She is the subject of Until I Smile at You: How One Girl’s Heartbreak Electrified Frank Sinatra’s Fame!, a biography written by Peter Jennings with Tom Sandler, Lowe’s son. – Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail

The Weeknd: “My natural singing voice was inspired, shaped by Ethiopian music”

Ethio-Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known professionally as The Weeknd, shares that his “natural singing voice was inspired" and "shaped by Ethiopian Music”. In a recent interview with the music and culture magazine TMRW discussing his upcoming album, the artist added: "The older I got, I was exposed to more music, and my voice became a chameleon going into different characters." – Tadias.com

It's Kye Clayton's time 

The young rapper and beatmaker is sharing his story to connect with yours. – Morgan Mullin, The Coast

Alexina Louie’s ‘Take the Dog Sled’ blends orchestral music with Inuit throat singing

— and it’s now immortalized on the Centrediscs label. – William Littler, Toronto Star

A lot of listening happened to dig up these local gems

With so many fine local records to choose from it was hard to whittle them down to just a handful each, but here are our five favourite Edmonton releases in 2020. – Staff, Edmonton Journal

Jeffery Straker: The arts made us 'feel' in a year we needed to more than ever

The arts will emerge from this pandemic in a different shape and government help is needed to regain firm footing, writes singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker. – Regina Leader-Post

Best new Toronto music: Start 2021 on a high note with these six songs

Our favourite songs of December come courtesy of Roam, Alex Porat and Puffy L'z. Plus: a Drake Underground live series. – Richard Trapunski and Kelsey Adams, NOW

Brutal year, brilliant sounds

Free Press music writers pick their top Manitoba offerings and the best pop/rock, jazz and classical albums of 2020. – Winnipeg Free Press

Q&A with Canadian music promoter, publicist, Richard Flohil - for more than 55 years, he has been committed to the blues

"That the music industry is not full of fools and flakes and greedy bastards and crooks. Most people in the business are in the business because they can’t sing or play (and in my case, can’t even dance), but they are passionate about music. If you can’t make music, do what you can to make music happen." –  Michael Limnios, Blues Network

Would you like a musician with your fries? (No, seriously.)

Musicians taking a horrible hit with the pandemic are looking for any way to replace lost revenue. Some downtown bars in Windsor, Ontario, have come with an odd but perhaps effective idea. Meteor and Phog Lounge are offering a side of live music with the food they deliver. I quote from the Windsor Star: When customers buy one of three poutine and beer packages, a local musician will come to their house and play three songs. In a nod to the popular poutine, they call it The Gravy Train. – Alan Cross, A Journal of Musical Things 

God help the opening act

All you need to know about choosing, hiring, feeding and taking care of the artist/band who’ll open the show. – Richard Flohil, The Sound Cafe

International

Events horizon: the films, music, art and more to get excited about in 2021

From the return of live comedy to a cornucopia of video game releases, and new albums from major stars, it’s going to be a big year for ... pretty much everything. – Staff, The Guardian

The 'Ratatouille' musical that began as a TikTok trend earned over $1 million in ticket sales

"Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical" earned over $1 million in ticket sales from its virtual New Year's Day stream, according to The Hollywood Reporter. What started as a TikTok trend became a Broadway-scale online production featuring Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-nominated performers like Wayne Brady, Tituss Burgess, André De Shields, and Ashley Park. – Dan Whateley, Business Insider

Jimmy Iovine sells producer catalog royalties to Hipgnosis (so he can build a school)

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has struck another big-money deal to acquire a valuable asset from a major name in the music business. This story comes with a couple of twists, though, as it sees a deal with legendary music executive and producer Jimmy Iovine. Iovine won't be using the money to feather his own nest: he's going to invest the undisclosed fee into building a high school in South LA under the USC Iovine And Young Academy initiative.- MBW

Music: Kitty Empire's 10 best of 2020

Our critic picks her favourite albums, from euphoric retro pop to classic American songwriting. – Kitty Empire, The Guardian

Man legally changed his name to Céline Dion while drunk, says he doesn't 'remember doing it'

Never underestimate the power of boredom and alcohol.  While watching the illustrious Céline Dion at home with a bottle of champagne, one 30-year-old Dion stan in the United Kingdom legally changed his name to Céline Dion. – Complex

Predictions 2021: Lanie Gardner gets set for breakout year after millions see her covers of Stevie Nicks hits

As this is the time we are publishing predictions in a variety of areas, here’s one for the music world. I’m going to suggest that 2021 is the year when 21-year-old Nashville artist Lanie Gardner hits the big time. Her stunning cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams attracted more than nine million views on YouTube since being posted in early Oct. and more than 40 million views across a variety of social media platforms. – Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight

A look back at some of the biggest music stories of 2020

Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Mariah Carey were among the acts making waves.  – Belfast Telegraph

Tony Rice was my guitar hero

Tony Rice was my first guitar hero. He inspired me and so many others to strive for excellence on the acoustic flat-top, explore new genres and never be afraid to take risks. To discover Rice's playing and singing is to discover his deep love for music that oozes out of every note, and his passion for sharing that beautiful gift with the world. – Molly Tuttle, NPR

The Go-Go's Kathy Valentine talks risks, rewards and relationships in memoir

A member of the groundbreaking female rock combo, she opens up in an illuminating memoir. – Tom Murray, Calgary Herald

My 2020 musical moment

The year 2020 was daunting for the local entertainment industry. With the pandemic raging and restrictions on mass gatherings in full effect, the music industry in Jamaica was set to suffer. However, there were moments. We sought the views of local industry players and affiliates as to what that light in the dark was for the music industry during the year just ended.  – Jamaica Observer

Paul McCartney goes shirtless with a tiny ponytail in St. Barts

Macca soaks up the Caribbean sun over the holiday season. – Hannah Southwick, Page Six

‘This is going to be so damn hard’: Paula Abdul on Fox spinoff ‘Masked Dancer’

When performer, choreographer and veteran talent competition judge Paula Abdul received a call from Fox asking her to be part of “The Masked Dancer,” a spinoff to wacky competition show “The Masked Singer,” her first reaction was laughter.  “I’m like, ‘Oh, how brilliant is this,’” Abdul said. “And then I thought, wait a minute, this is going to be so damn hard.” –  Makeda Easter, LA Times

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