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.

Obituary: Soul singer Jackie Shane

Photo courtesy of Gerry Miskolczi
Jackie Shane broke all the rules. An American-born, black, transgender woman, Ms. Shane first came to Canada in the conservative early 1960s and won over audiences with her glamorous image and soulful singing. For the next decade, she packed clubs in Ontario and Quebec and landed one memorable song, the slinky, sassy “Any Other Way,” near the top of the charts. But then Ms. Shane disappeared and erroneous rumours circulated of a possible murder or suicide. For the next 40 years, the mystery grew until word came that the retired performer was living back in her native Nashville. Ms. Shane’s rediscovery resulted in a massive comeback that the former singer never planned – nor actively particip...
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Blog Post: Toronto's Music Mural

Yesterday, a 22-storey high mural depicting the music history of Toronto’s Yonge Street was announced at a media event on the site of the mural. Two of the legends featured in the wall painting, Ronnie Hawkins and Gordon Lightfoot, were in attendance. Commissioned by the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Association, the work by artist Adrian Hayles also includes images of Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould, Jackie Shane, Shirley Matthews, Dianne Brooks and bluesmen B.B. King and Muddy Waters. The mural covers the side of a building on Yonge just south of College. I was a consultant on the project, which will be completed in December 2016, and spoke at the event: As a music journalist and histori...
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Music Feature: Beatlemania Toronto Style

The Beatles changed the world in countless ways, but they also dramatically changed Toronto over three consecutive years of performances (1964 to 1966) at Maple Leaf Gardens. Almost overnight, the city was hit with a cultural shift of seismic proportions: Boys grew Beatle-bangs, girls pinned photos of John, Paul, George and Ringo on their walls and parents worried about the sanity of their teenaged children. Canada’s folk darlings, Ian & Sylvia, had ruled up to that point, but as the male half of that duo, Ian Tyson, remembers, “the minute the Beatles arrived, it was over – well and truly over.” The folk boom slowed, as every kid on the block rushed to form rock bands. Toronto’s music sc...
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Music Review: Drake - Views

The Toronto rapper and singer has never been shy about his feelings his hometown or the women in his life. Both subjects dominate Drake’s eclectic fourth studio album, originally to be called Views from the Six in reference to his beloved Toronto. The cover shows him sitting atop the CN Tower. Then there’s “Weston Road Flows” and “9,” where he claims to have flipped Toronto on its head. While he’s unequivocal about his hometown, his relationships with women are less certain. On the island-flavored “Too Good,” his “he-said-she-said” collaboration with Rihanna, he complains, “You take my love for granted, I just don’t understand it.” On “Pop Style,” he worries that he simply “can’t trust nobod...
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Oscar Peterson’s pioneering Toronto jazz school

Oscar Peterson is remembered as a gifted pianist who could play it all, from Chopin and Liszt to blues, stride, boogie and beyond. Peterson led his own jazz trios, performed with such legendary figures as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, who dubbed him “the man with four hands,” won eight Grammy Awards and Canada’s prestigious Glenn Gould Prize. Called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, he released over 200 recordings before his death in 2007, including his 1956 Stratford Festival recording, 1958’s On the Town, recorded at Toronto’s Town Tavern, and 1962’s Night Train, which featured a number of Ellington pieces a...
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