Global Courant 2023-05-19 15:51:31
The 2023 Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place Thursday at Studio Bell in Calgary, with the event highlighting four starkly different musical acts with storied Canadian careers.
CBC Music host and mezzo-soprano Julia Nesrallah was the ceremony’s MC, the second of its kind. She introduced the evening’s attendees: jazz pianist Oliver Jones, Quebec singer Diane Dufresne, country star Terri Clark and rock band Trooper.
After a traditional performance by Blackfoot elder and knowledge keeper Eldon Weasel Child, Jones was the first to be honored.
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His longtime collaborator, Montreal-based American jazz singer Renee Lee, paid tribute — noting his humanitarianism, dedication to family, and willingness to mentor young musicians — as she ushered him into the venue.
“Anyone who has had the privilege of performing with Oliver needs to get the most out of themselves,” she said.
Jones recalls his storied career
Born in the Little Burgundy neighborhood of Montreal, Jones had his first performance at the nearby Union United Church. Although he devoted much of his early life to jazz – at the age of nine he was performing in the city – it was not until the age of 49 that Jones embarked on the storied career for which he is now known.
“This is such a wonderful, tremendous honor, and I feel humbled to receive this award,” Jones said as he took the stage.
“My first concert performance was exactly 84 years ago,” said the 88-year-old to applause. “And I never thought it would lead to the great career I’ve had.”
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He told the crowd that he had promised the Union United Church, where that first performance was held, that when he turns 100 he will retire again. Jones retired in 2000, only to perform live again after a show with his childhood friend, Montreal jazz legend Oscar Peterson.
He spoke of the late Daisy Peterson – Oscar’s sister – who taught him piano and “encouraged me to excel.”
After Jones’ speech, Lee and Hungarian-Canadian pianist Robi Botos performed.
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Dufresne, Lightfoot recalled
Quebec singer Diane Dufresne performs in Quebec City on July 3, 2008. “Thank you to the audience for being a part of my life,” she said during her speech at the induction ceremony. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)
Quebec writer-performer and former Radio-Canada broadcaster Josée Thibeault then took the stage to introduce the next inductee, Dufresne, the Quebec rocker she described as a “chanteuse, painter, writer, pioneer.”
Dufresne, with her wild costumes and distinct vocal style, became one of the county’s defining rock voices in the 1970s and 1980s. Her success quickly spread to France.
Dufresne, who delivered her speech entirely in French, said she was proud to be initiated as a francophone Quebecoise.
“Thank you to the audience for being a part of my life,” she said.
Then she took the stage to perform her song Partager les anges.
Following Dufresne’s performance, Nesrallah paid tribute to the late Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, who died on May 1. Lightfoot’s songs “cut into the national consciousness,” she said.
“It’s so important that we recognize and appreciate the artists who are writing this country’s story through song.”
Moving speech by Terri Clark
Canadian country singer Terri Clark gave the most moving speech of the night. (Ryan Nolan/Submitted by Charlotte Thompson/Red Umbrella PR)
Jann Arden introduced her friend of 25 years, country star Terri Clark – an international success who left Medicine Hat, Alta., to pursue her country music dreams.
“She could entertain people hour after hour after hour,” Arden said of Hart’s early days in Nashville, where she moved to launch her career.
Clark took the stage and gave the most moving speech of the night, recalling a road trip she took as a teenager with her late mother to a music competition in Calgary that she lost – only to find out 10 years later that she had won but was disqualified from the competition, which was sponsored by Budweiser, because he was underage.
“It’s really not about me. This is about the human spirit and the dream, the perseverance and using those roadblocks as building blocks and not letting them hold you back.” Clark then sang her 2000 song No Fear.
Trooper plays Raise A Little Hell
Vancouver band Trooper performs on CBC’s 90 Minutes Live in 1977. Founding members Ra McGuire and Brian Smith took the stage Thursday night to thank their families, bandmates and fans. (90 Minutes Live / CBC Archives)
Comedian Rick Mercer then took the stage to introduce Vancouver rock band Trooper, which he called Canada’s greatest band: “a pioneering part of the country’s soundtrack”.
“Given the chance to play Trooper all over again, I would choose to do Trooper all over again with you, my friend,” founder Ra McGuire told his co-founder, Brian Smith. Both stood on stage to receive the award.
Among other band members, McGuire thanked key members Scott Brown, Clayton Hill, Paul Gogo, Steve Crane, and David Steele, who joined the band after McGuire and Smith retired.
Smith, taking the stage, addressed the band’s fans: “We’re really so lucky to have the best fans in the world. Our fans are the ones who keep our songs alive and relevant.”
Their song Raise a Little Hell became a signature anthem at raucous, roof-raising performances across this country as they toured every nook and cranny. They performed it after their introduction to a standing ovation.
As the evening drew to a close, Nesrallah invited the inductees to place their plaques on the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.