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.

Eleanor Collins - Trailblazing jazz singer overcame racism with quiet dignity

From her birth as a daughter of Black settlers in the early 20th century to recognition as Vancouver’s first lady of jazz, Eleanor Collins was a trailblazer in music and African-Canadian history. Her role in breaking new ground for women and Black performers earned her membership in the Order of Canada in 2014. Then, in 2022, Canada Post featured Ms. Collins on a stamp, honouring her as the first Black Canadian entertainer – and first female Canadian singer – to star in her own nationally broadcast TV series, The Eleanor Show. Acknowledging the honour, Ms. Collins said she had no sense of her pioneering role back then. “We each did what we felt we were called to do – live in the present...
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Gordon Lightfoot's music education

Gordon Lightfoot, who passed away May 1, would have turned 85 today. His legacy includes songs that will live on for decades to come. Success didn’t come easy for him. In the beginning, Lightfoot worked hard at learning everything there was to know about music. Long before his first hit records, Lightfoot tried choir singing, barbershopping, pop crooning, jazz drumming and square dancing. While in a folk duo called the Two Tones, he even jumped on the Belafonte craze and belted out a calypso. When he was 19 and studying jazz composition and orchestration at the Westlake College of Music in Hollywood, Lightfoot and three fellow students moonlighted as the Four Winds, recor...
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The joyous flute of Kathryn Moses

The sunny personality of Kathryn Moses always shone through in her music. Joyous and free-spirited, she expressed those qualities on flute, saxophone and vocals – she was gifted at all three –throughout a career in jazz, pop and classical music that lasted over half a century. Although she started out playing in orchestras, the American-born Ms. Moses eventually immigrated to Canada and shifted into the male-dominated world of jazz in Toronto while juggling work with chamber music, commercial jingles and numerous recording sessions. She contributed to a diverse range of albums by such artists as Bruce Cockburn, Chuck Mangione, Murray McLauchlan, Tom Paxton, Leroy Sibbles, Tom Rush, Raffi, Na...
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Jelly Roll Morton in Crystal Beach

There was a time in the 1950s when Torontonians regularly shuffled off to Buffalo for excitement. That was in the days when puritanical laws in Toronto the Good kept entertainment under tight wraps and alcohol and rock 'n' roll flowed more freely on the American side. But during the Roaring '20s, many Buffalonians were frequently travelling to Crystal Beach, Ontario by ferry boat to visit its giant amusement park and world famous dance hall, featuring the biggest bands of the Swing Era. Opened in 1925, the Crystal Beach Ballroom held the largest dance floor in North America, with room for 3000 dancers on its gleaming wooden dance floor. Among the biggest names to perform there were Coun...
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Obituary: Jazz giant 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 of...
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