SOCAN is grieving the loss of Terry McManus, best known as the leading founder of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), on Dec. 18, 2021, at the age of 75. Though McManus spent much of his life in the Canadian music ecosystem as a SOCAN member songwriter, at one point specializing in children’s’ songs, he also became an artist manager, representing The Birthday Massacre, “Survivorman” Les Stroud, and JoJo Worthington, and mentoring hit Nashville singer-songwriter Deric Ruttan. As an educator, he taught Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, for 40 years, and also online at Algonquin College. And he wrote a self-published book, Husband Father Brother Son, about men and their relationships.
In the mid-1980s, a group of songwriters led by McManus were concerned with the degree of participation that members of the profession were having in the music industry, and so – with the help of lawyer Stephen Stohn, and esteemed songwriters like Eddie Schwartz and Rich Dodson – he led the founding of the Songwriters Association of Canada (then under the name Canadian Songwriters Association). The organization quickly established an industry presence, and ever since, has nurtured aspiring songwriters via workshops, song assessments, demo evaluations, the creation of a Canadian Song Depository (now the Song Vault), a Canadian copyright registration service, the Bluebird North songwriter circle series, and more.
In 1970, McManus began working for the Ontario Arts Council as a music officer, co-ordinating their new pop music program, setting up mobile recordings for little-known acts across Ontario, and organizing the first rock concert at Toronto’s Ontario Place Forum.
As an artist, the first two songs he recorded were “Sunshower in the Spring” and “Gimme a Hand.” The former was a single, released in 1971, which did well on the Canadian charts, as did the follow-ups “Carolyn” and “Love is Wine” in 1972 – and all three singles went to No. 1 in the Canadian Prairies. In late 1972, jazz musician Tommy Banks signed McManus as a solo artist, and appointed him the A&R director of his new record company, Century II, in Edmonton, where he worked with a number of acts, including Roy Forbes (aka Bim). McManus began to expand his writing in order to include the work of jazz musicians Banks, Earl Seymour, and Lenny Breau into his recordings.
Ultimately, McManus moved to London, Ontario, to teach in the then-new Music Industry Arts Program at Fanshawe College. Although he was teaching full-time, he continued to write, trying his hand at children’s songs; the result was an album, Scrub-A-Dub U, on Raffi’s label Treble Clef in 1978, and several songs on Fred Penner’s TV show, starting in the mid-‘80s. In 1981 McManus was asked by London promoter Don Jones to perform an opening set of material to entertain children at Mr. Dressup appearances, and they began writing songs together, resulting in the 1982 album Wake Up Mr. Dressup with Friend Terry McManus. By 1985 Access TV in Calgary approached McManus to write material for their kids’ show The Magic Ring, which resulted in 81 songs being used in 39 shows from 1985-1991.
In the 1990s, McManus began writing essays about men and their relationships, many of which were published in The Globe & Mail. That led to a self-published book, Husband Father Brother Son. Eventually the editors of the Chicken Soup book series requested one of his essays about marriage for their Chicken Soup; Divorce and Recovery book.
In 2000 McManus wrote, recorded and released a musical tribute to John Lennon called “Missing John,” which about.com reviewed as “one of the best Beatle tribute songs ever recorded.” In the early 2000s, McManus started to compile his extensive music industry experience into an educational text for Fanshawe College students, The Canadian Music Industry Primer. The book has now been adopted by Algonquin College for its Music Industry Arts Course and endorsed by several Canadian music organizations.
In 2007 McManus began managing industrial/goth band The Birthday Massacre, who became one of the top bands of their genre in the world. They’ve toured North America, Europe, Australia, and Russia, and in 2009, won the Virgin Mobile Book the Band Contest with more than 270,000 worldwide votes.
SOCAN extends its deepest condolences to McManus’ wife Irene; children Teevan, Johanna, and Anthony; grandchildren Benjamin, Stella, and Lucy; and his extended family, friends, and fans. The McManus family has created a scholarship/bursary in Terry’s name, for a student in the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe College. To contribute, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/h8pne3.