Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

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Feature Article: Truths & Rights

Truths & Rights was arguably the best reggae band ever to come out of Canada. Formed at the dawn of the 1980s in Toronto's Regent Park district, the band, made of of singer-guitarist Mojah, singer Ovid Reid, lead guitarist Vance Tynes, keyboardist Iauwata, bassist Xola, percussionist Ahmid, conga player Quammie Williams and trap drummer Abnadengel, brought reggae music to the downtown scene. Also part of the band was graphic artist Ato Seitu and sound engineer Jeffrey Holdip. "We got tired of playing uptown to just community groups and in community centres," recalls Mojah. "I, for one, always wanted to move out into the mainstream. So I set out on a path of coming down to Queen Street in...
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Obituary: Sam "the Record Man" Sniderman

Obituary: Sam "the Record Man" Sniderman
He said it, he did it. Sam “the Record Man” Sniderman loved catch phrases and used them frequently to promote himself and the family business that bore his name. But, unlike the claims of many entrepreneurial blowhards, Sam’s slogans were no empty boasts. He actually did create the “best chain of record stores in Canada, with great music at great prices,” like he boldly predicted he would, and built a reputation as the greatest promoter of domestic talent that Canadian music ever had. Long before CanCon regulations, which he helped to usher in, Sniderman made a habit of giving prominent display space in his stores to domestic artists. Gordon Lightfoot remembers how Sniderman faithfully stock...
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Feist wins Polaris Music Prize 2012

I had the honor of introducing Feist at the Polaris Music Prize gala on Sept. 24 at Toronto's historic Masonic Temple. She won the prize, after performing "Caught a Long Wind" and "The Bad in Each Other." I was pleased, as Metals is an extraordinary album and had been my number one pick all along. Here's what I said in my introduction: After the runaway success of The Reminder , Feist needed a clean slate. She found it in Big Sur, a place of stunning vistas and quiet reflection. Working there with longtime partners Mocky and Chilly Gonzales, she discovered a new range of expression and forged an album of rare depth and beauty. Feist found inspiration in the elements and cast them into alloys...
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Obituary: Billy Bryans

Obituary: Billy Bryans
Billy Bryans was best known as the drummer and founding member of the Parachute Club, the Juno Award-winning political rock group famous for its anthemic hit “Rise Up.” But his credits and contributions ran much deeper and he may ultimately be remembered as a cultural bridge builder who changed the sound of Canadian music. As a musician, Bryans performed and recorded with bands across the musical spectrum, from rock and blues to punk and African styles. At the height of the new wave era, playing in several groups at once, he was often seen pushing his drum kit on a trolley from club to club along Toronto’s Queen Street. His work as a record producer was equally eclectic, working with everyon...
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Obituary: Oscar Peterson

Few pianists swung as hard or played as fast and with as many grace notes as Canada’s Oscar Peterson. The classically trained musician could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie, bebop and beyond. He led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who called him “the man with four hands,” recorded more than 200 albums and wrote such memorable works as “Hymn to Freedom” and the “Canadiana Suite.” “A virtuoso without peer,” concluded his biographer, Gene Lees, in The Will to Swing . When Peterson died this week, music lovers around the world mourned the loss of a lyrical stylist and one o...
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Obituary: Richard Bell

Obituary: Richard Bell
Among blues-rock soloists and accompanists, he had few equals. An exceptional pianist, organist and accordion player, Richard Bell left his mark on more than 400 albums, some of which he also produced, arranged and composed and sang on. Renowned for his sense of humor as well as his dazzling keyboard chops, the Toronto-born Bell performed with such legendary figures as Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield and Bob Dylan and played a supporting role in some key events in rock ’n’ roll history. When he died last week at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, after a year-long battle with cancer, friends and associates around the world mourned the loss of a beloved and highly respected musician who, according...
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Obituary: Whitney Houston

In 1985, I was invited to a small reception in a Toronto hotel to meet a young woman who was already creating a major industry buzz. Besides being gospel great Cissy Houston’s daughter, Dionne Warwick’s cousin and Aretha Franklin’s goddaughter, Whitney had been signed by Clive Davis, a man with proven ears for talent. The moment Whitney walked into the room, I was struck by her natural beauty and youthful innocence. Just 22, she was fresh-faced and shy, yet already so poised. Sweet and soft-spoken, we chatted together about her new album and upcoming tour. There was an air of barely contained excitement about her, like a debutante at her coming-out ball. Less than a year later, Whitney had b...
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