Alannah Myles’ Billboard No. 1 song from the 1990s, “Black Velvet,” will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame on June 10, 2021, with an exclusive video performance by the song’s co-writer Christopher Ward, alongside Serena Ryder and Damhnait Doyle, on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Both Ward and co-writer David Tyson will be virtually presented with the induction of the song, which they created specifically for Myles.
“Having Black Velvet inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is an incredible honour and a testament to the power of a song. I continue to be amazed at how many lives it has touched,” says Ward.
“We’re thrilled that Damhnait and Serena are lending their incredible talents to join Christopher in paying tribute to an incredible hit that has transcended time and genre,” said Vanessa Thomas, CSHF executive director. “‘Black Velvet’ is an example of songwriting at its very best, and Alannah’s sultry vocals took Christopher and David’s Memphis-inspired song to the next level, where one can actually feel the heat.”
The idea for “Black Velvet” was sparked by a trip to Memphis a few years prior, for the 10th anniversary of Elvis’s death. Ward, a renowned MuchMusic VJ at the time, was on a music assignment with a group of Elvis fans and was inspired to write a song that evoked the passion he witnessed. As Ward recalls, during the songwriting process, “for me, every song has a key line that unlocks the rest of it. With ‘Black Velvet,’ it was, ‘a new religion that’ll bring you to your knees.’ That new religion was rock ‘n’ roll.”
Myles put her stamp on the song with distinctive, raw, and gritty vocals that were powerful, yet at times soft and playful. Released in July 1989, the song quickly skyrocketed up the charts, reaching No. 1 on the Cashbox chart, Billboard’s Hot 100, then mainstream rock charts by early 1990. The album sold 1.2 million copies in Canada, making Myles the first female artist to achieve Diamond status in Canada. The song swept the 1990 JUNO Awards, garnering Tyson and Ward the Composer of the Year honour. Myles’s recording won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, topping heavyweight nominees, including Janet Jackson and Tina Turner.
“Black Velvet” was declared a SOCAN Classic in 2004 and became a blockbuster mega-hit – one of the most-requested songs on radio. It has since been widely covered, by the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Melissa Etheridge, Cali Tucker, JUNO winner Meghan Patrick, and others. It continues to reach new audiences today, with more than 150 million streams on Spotify. More than 30 years after its release, Ward has recorded his own version of “Black Velvet” in a new, self-penned, and deeply introspective album, Same River Twice, released May 28, 2021.
Ward has written for top artists including The Backstreet Boys, Colin James, Wynonna Judd, Anne Murray, Amanda Marshall, Peter Cetera, and Diana Ross. Tyson has written for celebrated artists, including Celine Dion, and has produced for Eddie Schwartz, Amanda Marshall, Heather Rankin, and others; he’s also won multiple JUNO Awards, including Songwriter of the Year for his work with Hall & Oates.