In an exclusive interview with SOCAN on the occasion of his new instrumental album Crowing Ignites, out Sept. 20, 2019, legendary singer-songwriter and SOCAN member Bruce Cockburn talks about his songwriting process – with and without lyrics; where the songs come from; his so-called “career” and “legacy”; and the idea of leaving no footprints.
SOCAN member Haviah Mighty won the 2019 edition of the $50,000 Polaris Prize for the best album in Canada, on Sept. 16, 2019, at The Carlu in downtown Toronto.
Mighty’s winning album 13th Floor ranges from the hard, socially conscious rap of “Thirteen,” to the lighter, reggae-flavoured dismissal of “Wishy Washy,” to the takedown of toxic masculinity found on “In Women Colour.” Whether Mighty is spitting rapid-fire bars over complex beats, or singing languidly to make her point, she’s crafted a compelling work on which the 11-person Polaris Grand Jury agreed.
Graciously and gratefully accepting the award onstage from last year’s winner Jeremy Dutcher, Mighty – whose explosive performance (her first with a live band) earlier in the Gala earned a standing ovation – said, “I’ve been working on being a musician for a really long time, and I’ve put out a lot of music, with very few accolades and very little reward… This is the first time I’ve been able to speak my truth… My truth, and how important it is, and how dismissed it often is, and how I don’t care about that. This needs to come out… I’ve had the same thoughts and the same sentiments since high school, and every time, it was not the time, or it wasn’t the place; and here and now, at the Polaris 2019, it is the time and place.” She also thanked everyone on her team.
The 2018 gala featured captivating live performances from nine of the 10 short-list nominees, each of whom received a $3,000 prize: PUP, Marie Davidson, Shad (who featured a vocal from previous 2017 Polaris Prize winner Lido Pimienta), Elisapie (whose two songs were dramatic and powerful), Haviah Mighty, Les Louanges, Dominique Fils-Aimé, FET.NAT, Snotty Nose Rez Kids (whose incendiary mini-set of Indigenous rap earned another standing ovation). Nominee Jessie Reyez, who’s been unable to perform onstage since she suffered a back injury this summer, was nonetheless present the event.
Earlier in the evening, at the pre-show reception, SOCAN sponsored each attendee’s first glass of wine, as well as all of their light food, including fish tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches, meatballs with mashed potatoes, and Thai noodles.
SOCAN congratulates Haviah Mighty, and all of the nominees, on these great career achievements!
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) will induct four members of the iconic Québec prog-rock group Harmonium – Serge Fiori, Michel Normandeau, Serge Locat, and Louis Valois – during the 30th Anniversary edition of the SOCAN Awards Gala in Montréal, slated for the TOHU theatre on Sept. 22, 2019.
One of Quebec’s leading acts of the 1970s, Harmonium achieved commercial and artistic success in French and English Canada alike. Group founders Serge Fiori, Michel Normandeau, and Louis Valois began performing as a trio in Montréal in 1973, seeking to carve a niche between the intimacy of the chansonniers and the bolder sounds of Franco-American rock. Their innovative blend of folk, rock, and jazz would quickly take them all the way to the top.
Harmonium recorded their self-titled debut album in 1974, launching the highly successful and enduring co-writing partnership of Fiori and Normandeau. In mere months, the Harmonium album sold 100,000 copies and topped the Québec charts. Harmonium quickly went from playing Montréal’s clubs, campuses and schools – both French and English – to selling out Place des Arts, and playing to packed outdoor crowds of more than 300,000 in Québec. They also performed, in French, throughout English Canada, to delighted audiences – including those at Massey Hall in Toronto, and in Vancouver.
Their second album, Si on avait besoin d’un cinquième saison, was released in 1975. This JUNO-nominated effort, widely known as Les cinq saisons, has been deservedly named by Rolling Stone as one of that magazine’s top progressive-rock album choices.
Harmonium’s final full-length studio recording (and its first gold record), the hypnotic and sophisticated double-album L’Heptade, was launched in 1976. It masterfully blended genres, adding classical orchestral interludes written by Neil Chotem, and showcased songwriting contributions from Fiori, Normandeau, Locat, and Valois. Harmonium received another JUNO nomination, this one for Group of the Year, and toured England and Europe with Supertramp, and then California, promoting Québec music and culture all the while. In 1980 Harmonium released their only live album, Harmonium en tournée. A full 26 years later, the re-mixed Heptade XL was received enthusiastically, reaching No. 3 on Billboard’s Canadian album chart.
Having achieved iconic status in Québec, Harmonium has forged an impact far exceeding their modest output. Their L’heptade album has reached quadruple platinum sales, Harmonium double platinum, and Les cinq saisons platinum. The band has received several SOCAN Classic awards, and an honorary Félix Award, and their songs have been covered by top Québec acts, including Les Respectables, Sylvain Cossette, Eleanor McCain, Boom Desjardins, Jorane, and Lawrence Gowan. The band’s music continues to transcend linguistic and cultural boundaries to this day.