Yannick Nezet-Seguin  Facebook photo
Yannick Nezet-Seguin Facebook photo

Music News Digest, Feb. 9, 2023

Sunday night's Grammy Awards weren't as heavy on Canadian content as in some recent years, but they still featured some notable success stories. Global pop superstars Michael Bublé and Drake added to their impressive trophy collections by taking home one each. Bublé won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Higher (fellow Canadian Greg Wells also receives a Grammy statue for producing over half the album), while Drake picked up Best Melodic Rap Performance for his guest appearance on Future’s Wait for U. A lesser-known Canadian name, Tobias Jesso Jr., trumped them by winning two, including one of the most prestigious Grammys, the inaugural Songwriter of the Year - Non-Classical award, for his work with such stars as Adele and Harry Styles. His other victory came as part of the team behind Harry Styles' album of the year winner, Harry’s House (Jesso Jr. co-wrote the track Boyfriends).

Acclaimed Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin also earned two Grammys. The Best Opera Recording award went to Terence Blanchard'Fire Shut Up In My Bones, featuring The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus, conducted by Nézet-Séguin. The winner in the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album category went to Voice of Nature - The Anthropocene, credited to Renée Fleming (soloist) and Nézet-Séguin (accompanist)

Winnipeg sibling songwriters Joey and Dave Landreth (The Bros. Landreth) wrote Bonnie Raitt's winning song, Made Up Mind (Best Americana Performance). During her acceptance speech, Raitt gave this shout-out to the pair: "I wanna thank the Bros. Landreth for writing this kick-ass song."  For more on the evolution of this song, check out a CBC.ca story here.

Canadians also contributed to two of the winning jazz albums. US musicians Steven Feifke, Bijon Watson and the Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra, out on Vancouver-based independent jazz label Cellar Live. The Best Jazz Instrumental Album Grammy went to New Standards Vol. 1, featuring Canadian musicians Kris Davis and Matthew Stevens alongside Terri Lyne Carrington, Linda May, Han Oh, and Nicholas Payton. Acclaimed jazz combo Snarky Puppy won for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Empire Central, and the group's lineup includes ace Toronto drummer Larnell Lewis. Toronto flautist and world music composer Ron Korb played on two Grammy-winning albums, Masa Kikumi's Sakura (Best Global Music Album), and Divine Tides, the Stewart Copeland & Ricky Kej release that won in the Best Immersive Audio Album category. Read a full list of Grammy winners here

– The 18th Edition of the Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMAs) takes place March 31 – April 2, 2023 in Vancouver, and will see 20 awards handed out over the two nights of concerts. The Official Awards Concerts will be held April 1 and 2 (6:00-8:30 pm PT) at the Mel Lehan Hall at St James Community Square, each featuring live performances from 5 CFMA nominees and the presentation of 10 awards nightly. Hosted by Chelsey June (Twin Flames) and Benoit Bourque, the CFMAs are bilingual. The festivities also include three Nominee Showcase Concerts, a Traditional Music Showcase, Songwriters Showcase and Children and Family Music Showcase. Ticket sales to all CFMA events are now open here

– The CMAOntario Awards, presented by Slaight Music, are now accepting submissions for your favourite Ontario artists, songs, radio stations and industry personnel for 15 categories at the 2023 CMAOntario Awards. The deadline to submit here is Feb. 17.

Festivals news

– The Vancouver Folk Music Festival board has rescinded to motion to dissolve the Vancouver Folk Festival Society and is launching a fundraising campaign and volunteer drive to salvage the emperilled event. "We need your help to build a sustainable and enduring festival" says a statement from president Mark Zuberbuhler, after an outpouring of support from the community. The board says about 300 people attended a virtual town hall last week to learn about the situation and make suggestions. Learn more in a CP story here.

Industry news

– A documentary featuring the rise of Canadian music video channel MuchMusic is set to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, CP reports. The news came from writer, actor and TV host Erica Ehm, a video jockey at the channel who says she has been “quietly” working as a consulting producer on the film. 

– It has been a momentous few days for Canadian hit songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr., winner of two Grammys on Sunday night (see above). A couple of days later, it was announced that Hipgnosis Song Management has acquired a song catalogue from Jesso. Hipgnosis has acquired 100% of Jesso’s interest in publishing copyrights (including the writer’s share of performance) for “around” 40 songs released between 2015 and 2020.  Further terms of the deal were not disclosed. Jesso is known for his work with Adele (We Were Young), Harry Styles (Boyfriends), Niall Horan, Pink, Sia, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Pugh, Meghan Trainor, Florence + The Machine, and others. Learn more about the deal in this Variety report.

– As mentioned above, Vancouver-based independent jazz label Cellar Live scored big at the Grammys as the home label for The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra album, winner in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category. The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra is a US ensemble, but a victory for a Canadian jazz label is momentous. Cellar Live spokesperson Scott Morin informs FYI that "We are completely honoured to have received a Grammy Award for a very special project from the Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra. This marks the first time in the Grammys' 65-year history that a Canadian jazz label has taken home a Grammy, and we could not be more excited and proud of the accomplishment and how it reflects on Canada’s growing imprint in the jazz business." Founded in 2001 by tenor saxophonist and impresario Cory Weeds, the label has released close to 300 recordings.

– African Women Acting is celebrating Black History Month by screening the documentary film TRACE (Tracing Rare African Canadian Extraordinaire) on Feb. 18 (4-10 pm) at Ada Slaight Hall, 585 Dundas St E, Toronto. TRACE is a celebratory project aiming to recognize the work and efforts of seven Black Canadians in diverse sectors, including business, entrepreneur, academic, arts and culture, history and philanthropy, as well as front-line workers and more, who have impacted the community with their great accomplishments. The doc is accompanied by a single, TRACE, by the film's producer and director Sonia Aimy. Free admission tickets here.

– For the first year since 2015, Nova Scotia Music Week (NSMW) returns to Yarmouth/ Kespukwitk from Nov. 2-5. Presented by Music Nova Scotia, the event is now in its 26th year. Fest wristbands and delegate passes are now on sale here.

Artists news

– Young Quebec composer and pianist Simon Boisseau has signed with Bravo musique and released his first single, Fuir. A debut album, Le déjeuner, will come out on March 24. Stream the single here

– Shamus is a project headed by Sheepdogs and BROS member Shamus Currie. He'll release its debut album, a rock opera entitled The Shepherd and the Wolf, on Feb. 24, and last Sunday, at the peak of the full snow moon, he released a second advance single, Song Of A Wolf. Listen to him howl at the moon here.

– Musical renaissance man, author, photographer, and frequent FYI contributor Bill King has just released a new solo instrumental composition, The River's Edge. Performed on grand piano and organ, it's a beautifully lyrical piece worthy of your attention.

– Last weekend, Anglo guitar hero Chris Spedding (Roxy Music, Robert Gordon), still spry at 78, played a sold-out show at The Corktown in Hamilton. He delivered a crowd-pleasing set of his favourite originals and a few well-chosen covers, with special local guest Greg Briscoe on keyboards for two tunes. No surprise to see such musicians as Joel Wasson (The Discarded), Scott McCullough (Rusty), Bryce Clifford, Pete Lambert, and Mickey deSadist (Forgotten Rebels) in the crowd. The opening act, local bluesy rockers Lowdown Dirty Mojos, impressed with strong originals and spirited covers of The Spencer Davis Group (I'm A Man) and Velvet Underground songs, showed their diverse influences. Comprising scene veterans, The Lowdown Dirty Mojos won the New Artist/Group of the Year category at the 2022 Maple Blues Awards. Kudos to promoter Lou Molinaro for adding them to the bill. The newly reopened space upstairs at The Corktown boasts excellent sound and sightlines, and we're pleased to hear it will host shows regularly.

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