Both the SOCAN Awards gala and Béatrice Martin, a.k.a. Cœur de pirate, were celebrating their 30th anniversary on Sept. 22, 2019. The artist couldn’t have hoped for a better gift than the prestigious Songwriter of the Year Award, and a Popular Music Award she earned for her song “Prémonition.” The honours were the first in her career celebrating her talent as a songwriter, an important distinction for an artist known for her emotional songs, as intimate as they are powerful. SOCAN met with her before the gala, where she tells us, among other things, about her very personal creative process, and the story behind “Prémonition.”
SOCAN is mourning the loss of our screen composer member Walter Rathie, who passed away on July 23, 2019, at the age of 66, unexpectedly, after complications during treatment for a cancer diagnosis.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Rathie shifted his musical focus from performing to composing and built a successful career as a film and television composer. His music soundtracks appear in many network and cable TV shows and series in Canada, the U.S., and worldwide, including See No Evil, Handsome Devils, Murders and Motives, Weird or What?, Property Brothers, and Nazi Hunters, among many others.
Walter was born and raised in Montréal, where his father was an accomplished musician and big-band leader at McGill during his university days. He began his musical career on drums, and from an early age played in a series of local bands – beginning with a live performance (with the group Hangman’s Knot) as a young teen, on the U.S. PBS show Dance Date in the late 1960s. Shortly after, he switched from drums to keyboards, taking piano and organ lessons from his dad and others. He soon bought a Hammond B3 organ (previously owned by the U.S. rock band Vanilla Fudge), so he could play the kind of music he admired (from the likes of the Rascals, Spencer Davis Group, Al Kooper, and the Animals). He was known around Montréal as a great organist, playing everything from rock and blues to soul to jazz.
For nearly three decades, Walter played keyboards and sang vocals in several popular Montréal bands (the Frames, Bacchus, Flying Circus, to name only a few) with one major career highlight in the recording and touring band, Cruiser. When not performing, Walter spent countless days and nights writing and recording music in his home studio.
Walter and his family moved from Montreal to Oakville, Ontario, in 2013. He leaves behind his wife Donna and daughter Ali. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends; his longtime community of musical friends, many who remain in the Montréal area; and all at SOCAN.
Thirty years ago, the Kashtin tornado hit Québec with its Innu-language song, “E Uassiuian.” Its irresistible melody propelled them to great success in the rest of Canada, and even Europe, and 200,000 copies were sold – an unprecedented feat, at the time, for an Indigenous band. This tornado still reverberates in 2019, with “E Uassiuian” becoming the first SOCAN Classic to have risen from the First Nations, with an award presented to the songwriter during the 30th SOCAN Montréal Awards on Sept. 22, 2019, at La Tohu. SOCAN met with Florent Vollant, who explained the context of that era; the impact of the song on the duo he formed with Claude Mackenzie; and the pride the entire Innu community felt because of it.