The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) has partnered with the East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) to celebrate the induction of celebrated Newfoundland singer-songwriter Ron Hynes into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. The late Hynes, known as the “Man of 1,000 Songs,” was a master songwriter and performer, and is often cited as one of the greatest storytellers in Canada.
The six-time East Coast Music Award winner will be honoured in a special ceremony during the ECMAs gala on April 30, 2020, at Mile One Centre in St John’s, Newfoundland. His friend, a legendary producer, and founder of the Hall of Fame, Frank Davies, will present the induction to the Hynes family.
“Up until his passing, Ron Hynes was passionate about his craft, and many songwriters from Newfoundland looked up to him as an inspiration,” said Vanessa Thomas, Executive Director of the Hall of Fame. “With his trademark broad-brimmed hat and love for his province, his impact on the culture and artists of Newfoundland is unmatched.”
Hynes achieved much critical acclaim and generations of fans over his influential career, and continued to perform right up until his passing in 2015. From serving as the lead vocalist in the music and comedy group The Wonderful Grand Band, he led a successful career as a solo artist and influenced some of the greatest songwriters to come out of Atlantic Canada, including Lennie Gallant and Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle, who said, “Ron had so much truth, heart, and poetry in his music that it has inspired a plethora of songwriters in this part of the world.”
His 1972 debut album, Discovery, was the first time a Newfoundlander made a recording entirely of their own original songs. Hynes became a prominent figure on the East Coast circuit, and his roots-country music spread throughout audiences in the Atlantic region, Ontario, and across Canada. Listeners identified with his powerful compositions.
His most renowned and widely revered song is “Sonny’s Dream,” written in 1976, by a 25-year-old Hynes, in under 10 minutes. The song’s lyrical content, depicting the isolation of life on The Rock, and the pull of the outside world, touched audiences and inspired more than 200 cover recordings. Now a folk classic “Sonny’s Dream” has been recorded in Canada by such artists as Allison Crowe, Corey Hart, Ryan’s Fancy, Great Big Sea, Stan Rogers, Valdy, and John McDermott; by U.S. Grammy winner Emmylou Harris; by Ireland’s Mary Black, Phil Coulter, and Christy Moore; and New Zealand’s Hayley Westenra.
The 1990s brought national reach with his solo albums Cryer’s Paradise and Face to the Gale, released through EMI. He branched out in the years after, releasing albums Standing in Line in the Rain, The Sandcastle Sessions, and Get Back Change independently, and three albums under label Borealis. As his popularity grew, Hynes performed at folk festivals, on Parliament Hill, and at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Hynes amassed critical acclaim across Canada, which earned 22 East Coast Music Awards nominations and six wins, including Song of the Year, Male Artist of the Year (twice), and Album of the Year. He also earned a 1992 Genie Award for Best Original Song for “The Final Breath,” and three awards at the 2006 MusicNL Awards, picking up Entertainer, Songwriter, and Folks/Roots Artist of the Year.
Among his creative endeavors was his success as an actor. While writing music and lyrics for stage productions by the Mummer’s Troupe, he made his theatre debut as celebrated Newfoundland balladeer Johnny Burke in The Bard of Prescott Street (1977) and starred as country legend Hank Williams in Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave (1980). Hynes has also been the subject of several documentaries, including Ron Hynes: The Irish Tour (1999) and The Man of a Thousand Songs, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.
Hynes was presented with the National Achievement Award by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN); awarded with the Arts Achievement Award by the Newfoundland/Labrador Arts Council; and an honourary doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2013, he received Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to celebrate his status as a Canadian icon and Newfoundland patriot.
Following Ron Hynes’ induction presentation at the East Coast Music Awards, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame will recognize his songwriting accomplishments at The National Music Centre in Studio Bell, Calgary. The Centre is the home of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and continues to preserve and honour the legacy of inductees through exhibitions which feature exclusive artifacts, stories, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia.