SOCAN member, singer, and professional songwriter Shirley Eikhard died on Dec. 15, 2023 (while SOCAN was on hiatus), at the age of 67 , in Orangeville, ON, after a battle with cancer.
At age 15, Eikhard wrote “It Takes Time,” which became a No. 1 hit on Canadian Adult Contemporary radio charts for Anne Murray in 1971. That resulted in television appearances on The Anne Murray Special and The Tommy Hunter Show on CBC. Eikhard won two JUNO Awards, both for Female Country Artist of the Year, in 1973 and 1974, and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020. Her songs have been recorded by, or written for, the likes of Cher, Amy Grant, Rita Coolidge, and Emmylou Harris. Eikhard released 18 full-length albums between 1972 and 2021, and taught herself to play guitar, piano, bass, drums, percussion, chromatic harmonica, saxophone, banjo, and mandolin.
But her most widely recognized commercial success came from a song Eikhard wrote in the mid-‘80s while working in Nashville. Written in ab out 20 minutes, and pitched to artists for about seven years, “Something to Talk About” was recorded by Bonnie Raitt for her 1991 Luck of the Draw album, which enabled the American singer-songwriter and guitarist to further a commercial comeback begun two years earlier. “Something to Talk About” reached No. 5 on the Billboard U.S. singles chart, and was nominated for Record of the Year at the 1992 Grammy Awards. Raitt actually earned a Best Pop Vocal Performance Grammy for her recording of the song. “Something to Talk About” even inspired a 1995 Julia Roberts comedy-drama movie of the same name, in which she plays a woman who learns her husband is having an affair.
Eikhard was born in Sackville, NB, to parents who both played musical instruments, and music quickly became her lifelong passion. She was living in Oshawa, ON, by the time of her debut 1969 appearance at the Mariposa Folk Festival, as a young teen. By 1972, she’d shifted from folk to country pop, as she released her self-titled debut album. It included a version of Sylvia Tyson’s “Smiling Wine,” which garnered significant Canadian radio airplay, as did Eikhard’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” from 1976’s Let Me Down Easy.
There was a 10-year gap in her recorded output, from 1977 until 1987’s Taking Charge, as Eikhard dealt with voice issues. Still, during that time, she co-wrote a song, “Kick Start My Heart,” that was included on Alannah Myles’s self-titled 1989 hit album. Eikhard’s own first album after Bonnie Raitt’s cover greatly heightened her public profile — 1995’s If I Had My Way — saw her return to familiar musical territory. Then, three years later, she was recording for the legendary Blue Note jazz label. For Eikhard, it only natural, as she’d included Billie Holiday songs in her live performances for years.
As the years rolled on in the 2000s, Eikhard painted, released modest but quality albums created largely on her own, and dedicated time to social causes, including animal rights and the environment. Her most recent full-length was 2021’s On My Way to You.
SOCAN extends its warmest condolences to Eikhard’s family, friends, fellow musicians, other colleagues in the music ecosystem, fans, and anyone who’s ever enjoyed her music.