SOCAN screen composers Mychael and Jeff Danna score No. 1 movie, Onward
Story by Howard Druckman, with files from/avec la participation de Daryl Hamilton | March 11, 2020
SOCAN congratulates our member screen composers, brothers Mychael and Jeff Danna, for composing the score to Onward, the Pixar/Disney animated movie that hit No. 1 on the box office in America on the weekend of March 6-8, 2020. Onward – which earned $40 million in the U.S., and $28 more million worldwide, in its opening weekend – stars the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, as two elf brothers on a quest, in a van, to magically spend one more day with their deceased accountant father.
It turns out that the Danna brothers had also lost their accountant father when they were teenagers in Toronto. At Pixar’s original presentation of the story, Mychael recalled to movie-industry bible Variety, “We were just like, ‘Is this a joke? Is this some weird prank?’ because it was pretty much our story.” Jeff added, “There were so many parallels, we were shaking our heads, we couldn’t believe it.”
Film Music Magazine says, “With their dexterity at both ethnic and orchestral music, Mychael and Jeff Danna conjure a wondrous, theme-filled quest that drives Onward’s magic bus.” Variety says, “There is a 92-piece orchestra and 30-voice choir, but the mystical sounds of Renaissance lute and wire-strung harp, along with the medieval voice of the crumhorn, flavor the score with hints of the fantasy world that’s on screen. Elf brothers Ian and Barley pursue their quest… in an old van whose cassette player blasts a wild mashup of ‘70s progressive rock and ‘90s indie rock – all written and played by guitarist Jeff and keyboardist Mychael in a callback to their own, pre-film-music experiences in Canadian pop bands.”
Mychael Danna is an Oscar winner for Life of Pi, an Emmy winner for World Without End, and has composed scores as diverse as Moneyball, Capote, and Girl Interrupted. Jeff Danna’s credits include Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and documentary The Kid Stays in The Picture. Working on their own, Mychael has won six SOCAN Awards, and Jeff has garnered five of them. Working together, they’ve earned three of them – for the Anthony Hopkins/Ryan Gosling-starring Fracture in 2008; the Disney/Pixar animated movie The Good Dinosaur in 2017; and the Warner Animation Group’s Storks in 2018.
SOCAN mourns the loss of Laura Smith
Story by Howard Druckman | March 11, 2020
SOCAN mourns the loss of East Coast folk singer-songwriter, SOCAN member, and former member of the SOCAN Board of Directors Laura Smith, who died on March 7, 2020, of pancreatic cancer, at the age of 67. Smith passed away peacefully at her home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, surrounded by family and friends. A GoFundMe campaign started for Smith’s care raised $45,000, nearly twice its goal, and Smith’s musical peers across the country had expressed their love and support for her.
On Feb. 28, 2020, Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto hosted a tribute to Smith, Celebrating An Icon, featuring Paul Mills, Tony McManus, Grit Laskin, Tannis Slimmon, Allison Lupton, Eve Goldberg, David Woodhead, John Sheard, and Lenny and Wendy Solomon. An all-star, sold-out tribute concert, My Bonny: Celebrating the Music of Laura Smith, at Casino Nova Scotia’s Schooner Showroom in Halifax on March 29, 2020, will go ahead as scheduled, with a lineup that includes Heather Rankin, Bruce Guthro, Lennie Gallant, Lucy MacNeil, Myles Goodwyn, and more.
Born and raised in London, Ontario, Smith made her debut on the local coffeehouse circuit. She moved to Toronto in 1975, then to Cape Breton in 1984. Her second album, B’tween the Earth and My Soul, brought her national acclaim and earned two East Coast Music Awards (for Female Artist and Album of the Year) and two JUNO nominations (for Best New Solo Artist and Best Roots and Traditional Album). In 1997, earned a Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program or Series. Her 1995 single “Shade of Your Love” was one of the year’s biggest hits on adult contemporary radio stations in Canada.
An adaptation of the Scottish folk song “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,” which she shortened to “My Bonny,” became one of her most popular songs, and she recorded a version of it with The Chieftains on their album Fire in the Kitchen. In 2003, Smith was honoured with a Doctor of Humanities in Literature from Mount Saint Vincent University. In the 2000s, she spent two seasons onstage in Prince Edward Island, in the role of Marilla in the musical Anne & Gilbert, at the Victoria Playhouse in Victoria-by-the-Sea, and the Jubilee Theatre in Summerside, respectively. Although her career was hindered by debilitating accidents, and a resulting dependence on painkillers, Smith completed her first recording in 16 years, Everything Is Moving, in 2013.
There are plans for a memorial and wake, and SOCAN extends its deepest sympathies to Smith’s family, friends, and colleagues throughout the Canadian music community.
Photo by Grant W. Martin Photography. Ron Hynes in 2008, at the SOCAN Awards (Toronto). / Ron Hynes, en 2008, au Gala de la SOCAN (Toronto).
Ron Hynes to be Inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
Story by SOCAN | March 4, 2020
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.