Mid-2000s Mini Profiles on Semi-Major Artists

Gregory Charles

Of French and Trinidadian ancestry, multi-talented Charles was born in 1968 in Montreal. At 7, he won the national Canadian piano contest and performed with many of the country’s symphonies. He studied law but landed a role in the TV series “Chambres en ville”. This led to his hosting a daily radio show, a television game show, a chat show, and he made several appearances in “Just for Laughs”. He toured with Celine Dion in 1998, providing backing vocals and piano work. He launched a variety show in the new millennium and finally his first studio album in 2006, I Think of You. It was certified triple platinum and he was nominated for three Juno awards. The French album Loin de la lumière followed in 2008 for which he won the Felix for male artist of the year.

Fefe Dobson

Born in 1985 this singer-songwriter and model from Scarborough has English, French, Aboriginal, and Jamaican ancestry. Her debut self-titled album, released in 2003, went platinum and she received two Juno nominations. The album spawned two Top 10 hits: “Bye Bye Boyfriend” (#8) and “Don’t Go (Girls & Boys)” (#9). She ran into record company problems and her second album was never released. After many delays and changes, her third album Joy came out in 2010 resulting in three Top 20 hits. “Ghost” was the 47th biggest song of 2010. And, in 2011, “Can’t Breathe” was 76th of the year while “Stutterin'” was 45th.  Fefe is known for her music videos which have won three MuchMusic awards for her.

Finger Eleven

Forming way back in 1989 as the Rainbow Butt Monkeys, they released their first album in 1995. It and its two hard rock follow ups made little impact. But in 2004, the band scored the international acoustic guitar hit “One Thing”, the 66th biggest song of the year in the U.S. In 2007, their song “Paralyzer” did even better scaling up the domestic charts to #3 and was the 64th most popular song in 2008. “I’ll Keep Your Memory Vague” also made the year-end chart (#53). Two of the band’s albums have gone platinum, including 2007’s Them Vs. You Vs. Me which won the Juno for best rock album. The band has received 8 Juno nominations to date. The band released album Five Crooked Lines in 2015.

Mes Aïeux

This sextet (five men and one woman) folk outfit formed in 1996 and released its debut album in 2000. Like Les Cowboys Fringants, their style is dubbed as neo-traditional. The band’s third 2004 album, En Famille, went double-Platinum, a difficult feat for a French release. They have also scored two platinum albums. At the 2007 Felix gala, the band’s song “Dégénérations” was named song of the year. “Le déni de l’évidence” was nominated two years later. Mes Aieux was declared Group of the Year thrice in Quebec.

Billy Talent

This is a heavy metal quartet, formerly known as Pezz, led by vocalist Ben Kowalewicz. They formed in Mississauga and recorded a self-titled album in Vancouver in 2003 which sold over 300,000 copies domestically. Their first Top 10 hit came in 2009—”Rusted from the Rain” which was the 61st biggest song of the year. Billy Talent has been nominated for a whopping 20 Junos, winning 7 of them including Group of the Year twice and album of the year in 2005.

Shawn Desman

Shawn is an R&B singer from Vaughan, Ontario (just north of Toronto) and, like Nelly Furtado, is of Portuguese descent. Generally speaking, he has done better in the singles than the albums department in terms of sales. His only album to achieve gold certification was his debut, self-titled release in 2002. 2005’s Back for More won a Juno for R&B/Soul recording of the year. “Don’t Wanna Lose You” was his first hit single (#19). “Get Ready” topped the charts with “Shook” (gold) peaking at #3. His album Fresh, released in 2010, spawned three hit singles, all of which made the year-end charts. In 2010, “Shiver” was 78th and “Night Like This” was 86th. And in 2011, “Electric“, a platinum download, was 59th of the year. In 2012, “Nobody Does It Like You” peaked at #18 on the Canadian Hot 100.

Marie-Élaine Thibert

Thibert of Montreal has achieved remarkable success in a very short time. She was runner-up in the first season of Quebec television reality series Star Académie (somewhat of a French version of Canadian Idol). Her debut, self-titled album, released in 2004, went triple platinum in Canada, a striking achievement for a Francophone album. It won the Juno award for Francophone Album of the Year. What’s more, her single “Toi l’inoubliable” was certified 6x platinum, making it the 2nd best-selling single of the decade (after Kalan Porter’s “Awake in a Dream”). She has released a few albums since then, some going platinum.

Marianas Trench

Mike Ayley, Ian Casselman, Josh Ramsay, and Matt Webb formed the band in Vancouver and eventually landed a deal with Chad Kroeger’s (Nickelback) local record label, 604 Records. Their debut album appeared in 2006 and spawned a couple of hit singles: “Say Anything” peaked at #3 on the charts and “Shake Tramp” was certified gold. Followup album Masterpiece Theatre was a platinum release in 2009 and, in all, four tracks made the year-end Top 100 singles chart in 2009 and 2010; the highest charting was “Cross My Heart” (43rd of 2009). In 2011, they released a new platinum single “Haven’t Had Enough” (81st of the year) and their third studio album, Ever After.  “Fallout” and “Desperate Measures” both made the year-end Hot 100 of 2012. The band won its first JUNO Award in 2013. Hit single “Pop 101” followed in 2014. Album Astoria came out in 2015.