Stratford, Ontario Cuts the Ribbon to Exhibit Biebs

From boy busker to global pop superstar, Justin Bieber is honoured by his hometown of Stratford, Ontario with the opening of a dedicated exhibit at the town’s Perth Museum. While annual visitors normally number around 7,000, traffic is expected to rise dramatically until the exhibit closes at the end of the year. According to the museum’s general manager, the phone has been ringing off the hook with calls and emails originating from all over Canada, The United States, and from far off lands like South Korea, Spain, Italy, and Japan. “From Thursday to Sunday morning, I had about a thousand emails from either media outlets or fans, or people interested in coming here.”

Bearing the name Justin Bieber Exhibit — Steps to Stardom, inspired by his posting videos on YouTube of busking on the steps of the Avon Theatre a decade ago, the display features an assortment of items: his drum set, running shoes, stage outfits, a Stratford Warriors jacket from his junior hockey days, a letter from former First Lady Michelle Obama, and Ellen underwear, a take home gift after appearing on the popular chat show. The 60 pieces were provided by Bieber and his relatives, as well as other Stratford residents and fans. Through the year, they will be continually refreshed from the museum’s access to 125 Bieber items.

Justin was unable to attend the opening, as he was busy playing in the celebrity NBA all-star game in Los Angeles, USA Friday night. Last night he talked with high school junior Cameron Kasky who, in the wake of the Florida school shooting, is organizing March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest in the States March 24 to demand gun regulation and condemn American politicians’ acceptance of bribes from the country’s National Rifle Association.

Besides the exhibit, visitors to Stratford can also check out Bieber landmarks around town: the pop star’s former high school of Northwestern, the steps to the Avon Theatre from his busking days, his favourite eateries: candy shop Rhéo Thompson Candies, ice cream parlour Scooper’s, and “his table” at Madelyn’s Diner.

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News and New Releases: February 16, 2018

Canadian Athletes Rock

A couple more Olympic medals from Canadian athletes were added to the tally yesterday as follows:

Kim Boutin – Bronze – Short Track Speed Skating: Ladies’ 1,500m
Samuel Girard – Gold – Short Track Speed Skating: Men’s 1,000m

They join 13 medals previously won as per below.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe – Silver – Freestyle Skiing: Ladies’ Moguls
Max Parrot – Silver – Snowboard: Men’s Slopestyle
Mark McMorris – Bronze – Snowboard: Men’s Slopestyle
Ted-Jan Bloemen – Silver – Speed Skating: Men’s 5,000m
Team Canada – Gold – Figure Skating: Team Event
Mikael Kingsbury – Gold – Freestyle Skiing: Men’s Moguls
Laurie Blouin – Silver – Snowboard: Ladies’ Slopestyle
Team Canada – Gold – Curling: Mixed Doubles
Alex Gough – Bronze – Luge – Women’s Singles
Kim Boutin – Bronze – Short Track Speed Skating: Ladies’ 500m
Team Canada – Bronze – Figure Skating: Pair Skating
Team Canada – Silver – Luge: Team Relay
Ted-Jan Bloemen – Gold – Speed Skating: Men’s 10,000m

Canada, in third place with 15 medals, has 5 gold, 5 silver, and 5 bronze.

Support for Hedley Pulled from Many Sides

Based on insinuations posted on social media where identity is concealed, where males can pose as females, where a single individual can, through the creation of multiple accounts, pose as many, support for Hedley has been pulled quickly on many fronts.

Watchdog Management and the Feldman Agency have both terminated their business relationships with the band. Both opening acts on the Cageless tour Shawn Hook and Neon Dreams have pulled out. Many radio stations have stopped spinning Hedley’s records.

The pop group will be continuing on with its tour with many fans refusing to be swayed by the defamatory rumours and gossip.

If such rumours are true, the repercussions would be unsettling and may serve as a catalyst for change. We have seen the consequences of society’s choice to accommodate alcohol consumption – marriage and family breakdown, millions of automobile deaths – and choice, since the 1960s, to revert back to the old ways of fornication – destabilizing human relationships and the foundation on which raising the next generation rests. Both are written off as justified in the so-called rock and roll lifestyle. Many male artists and bands promote alcohol consumption in their song lyrics and then use alcohol to take advantage of young women. How convenient. There is no doubt that such practices have happened and are still happening.

It is unfortunate too that speculation over Hedley’s affairs has resulted in division, pitting people into two camps of opposing opinions, something that would please the likes of Russia’s beloved Internet Research Agency.

Drake Comes Up with a New Plan

Drake has put smiles on many faces and maybe caused the odd teardrop to appear with his newly released MV for “God’s Plan”, the current number one single in the land.

Unnerved by a school shooting – the 290th in the U.S. since 2013 – an incident that killed 17, Florida was the recipient of something from Drake a little more practical than thoughts and prayers.

The video opens by saying that its budget was $996,631.90 and that Drake decided to give it all away to the needy. It shows him surprising local residents of the city of Miami with wads of cash. He tells shoppers that anything they buy in the store is on him. He donates $25,000 to a high school. And there are some other surprises. On Instagram he commented that it was “the most important thing I have ever done in my career.”

You can find and watch the video on the usual platforms.

New Releases

Not a huge amount but a fair number of new releases are out this week. Find the Canadian artist works in the table below.

TITLE ARTIST GENRE
Avant de crever Olivier Couture Rock
Fiesta Étienne Drapeau World
Grosso-Modo Séba et Horg Rap
Playing Chess Elise LeGrow Blues
Robert de Visée à Versailles Duo Baroque La Tour Classical
Room Inside the World Ought Alternative
Rule 62 Whitney Rose Country
Uncle, Duke & The Chief Born Ruffians Alternative
Weatherman Blaze Velluto Collection Alternative
Long Live the Night (EP) The Reklaws Country
The Projektor III (EP) Alex St. Kitts R&B
Le sens perd le nord (EP) Les DeadZ Alternative
Trouble (EP) Robby Johnson Country

Victoria Duffield Discloses Why She Hasn’t Released New Music

One of the finest, brightest young stars to sweep the nation over the past few years, Victoria Duffield, hasn’t released new music since 2014. Her two albums spawned a number of hits including platinum certified “Shut Up and Dance”. As a teen triple threat – singer, actress, and dancer (and oh what a dancer!) – Victoria was an immense inspiration across the nation picking up fans of all ages. She collaborated with Cody Simpson and toured with The Backstreet Boys. But something happened. Victoria who has been sharing her story in bits and pieces on her social networking sites opened up today in a post we quote below. Warning: For those of you who love Victoria and her music, this is not an easy read.

“As you’ve read, I’ve been giving you highlights (and lowlights) of my past years getting to do what I love. I am so thankful for the amazing years I had and getting to meet and perform for my fans across the country. Following my tour with the Backstreet Boys, I had hurt myself vocally. I had to get vocal cord surgery. This was a scary time. As a singer, you never know with vocal surgery if you’re going to be okay after. Singing is what I love and was terrified of losing it. Thankfully I was able to work with some incredible doctors in Los Angeles who helped me get back to full strength. My voice was back and it was time to work on the next release.

“Now let’s fast forward 2.5 years of writing and writing and writing….
🎵
Year: 2017
Month: May
Feeling: At A Complete Loss
Title: Now What
🎵

“After flying to multiple countries and writing tons of songs, I had plans lined up with a new team for a new song release. We were ready to go and I had booked a final photo shoot in Toronto to complete the project. Just before I was supposed to leave, in a matter of one phone call, that new team quit and the release plan was canceled. Everything I was depending on, planning, and preparing for vanished in seconds. I hung up the phone. I just sat on the couch and cried. For the first time, I Googled for other job options. I typed in ‘what do I do with my life?’. No matter what I looked up, nothing felt right. There was no go-to Plan B that I was okay with. Music is my everything but I wasn’t finding a way to make it work. How could I keep the dream alive? I’ve never felt so lost.”

For sure this is heartbreaking news for all Victoria Duffield fans and it certainly is for us. While her first two albums were released under Warner Music, the label no longer lists her as one of their artists.

We cherish the hope that new doors will open and she will continue her career as a recording artist.

Update: Victoria Duffield bounces back!

JUNOs Gear Up Amidst Grammys Backlash + Charts and Other News

Shawn Hook Reaches a New Plateau

First off, some very good news concerning British Columbian singer and songwriter Shawn Hook. Music Canada has certified his hit “Sound of Your Heart” a DOUBLE PLATINUM single elevating his rank to a multiplatinum recording artist. Huge congrats to the gentleman.

Alessia Cara … Shouldn’t Have to Defend Herself

Honours, as we previously reported, have also been given to Ontarian Alessia Cara who, on Sunday, became the first Canadian ever to win a Best New Artist Grammy. Unfortunately, a handful of vocal naysayers attempted to rain on her parade calling into question whether or not she should be considered new since she has been releasing music since 2015. Cara took to social media having to defend herself.

She pointed out that she did not submit her music for contention and does not make the Grammy Award rules. We point out that her fellow nominees with the exception of only one have been releasing music since before her: Lil Uzi Vert since 2014, Sza since 2012, and Julia Michaels since 2010.

We also call into question the motivations of the naysayers given that Alessia Cara was the only female who accepted an award onstage during the three-plus-hour live broadcast.

Grammys So Male

The above phenomenon caused hashtag #GrammysSoMale to trend on Twitter for hours following the telecast compelling Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to respond, saying that if women want to win Grammy Awards, they need to “step up”. This resulted in a huge backlash. Platinum, multiple JUNO winner LIGHTS pointed out that women have been stepping up for years, working tirelessly and that “power and talent oozes from every woman I know in this industry”. Of the 84 Grammy awards, only 11 went out to women. The New York Times determined that in the last six years only 9 percent of Grammy Awards have gone to women.

Grammy Ratings Tumble

Perhaps due to the large gender imbalance on Sunday, ratings for the show tumbled. While 26.1 million tuned in last year, the numbers fell to 19.8 million this year, a drop of 24%. Billboard suggested another reason may be the over emphasis on rap music, which is only the tenth most popular at radio in The United States. The lacklustre audience is the lowest in numbers since 2009.

JUNO Awards Gear Up

The JUNO Awards have their work cut out for them if they want to impress following on the heels of this. Nominations will be announced Tuesday, February 6.

The JUNOs also announced that the 2019 awards will be held in London. This year’s awards will be held March 25 in Vancouver and hosted by the king of swing, Michael Bublé.

This Week’s Charts

Last week we reported that Logan Staats failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 despite reaching #1 at iTunes. Drake, however, sees better luck on the Hot 100, as “God’s Plan” crowns it. B-side “Diplomatic Immunity” finishes the week at #6. Staats fellow The Launch victor Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine squeaks into the Top 40 with “Ain’t Easy”. The latter tops the Emerging Artists chart. The three new tracks save the Top 40 from an annihilation of CanCon which charred last week’s chart. Bahamas scores the first Top Ten 2018 Canadian artist album as Earthtones debuts at #5.

Alessia Cara Becomes the First Canadian Ever to win a Best New Artist Grammy

January 28, 2018, New York City – Brampton, Ontario Italian Canadian R&B singer Alessia Cara wins the United States’ Grammy Award for Best New Artist over other nominees Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels, and SZA. She is the first Canadian ever since the inception of the awards ceremony in 1959 to win the trophy in the category. “Holy cow,” she remarked upon taking the Madison Square Garden stage, “I’ve been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kind in my shower. You think I’d have the speech thing down, but I absolutely don’t.”

Other Canadians who won Grammy Awards were The Weeknd whose album Starboy was named Best Urban Contemporary Album. It is the Toronto native’s third trophy. The deceased Leonard Cohen picked up the award for his song “You Want It Darker,” a bit misplaced in the category Best Rock Performance. He had previously received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

Nova Scotian soprano Barbara Hannigan won the award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album thanks to Crazy Girl Crazy, and Burlington, Ontario’s Charles Moniz, co-nominated for his work on Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album.

The Launch of 2018, Part 2

Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine Pin a Number One

With Logan Staats taking care of business last week, the second semaine of CTV’s The Launch saw a pair from Ottawa take the tiara. Mentors Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Group (tent of Taylor Swift), OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, and Sugarland singer-songwriter Jennifer Nettles oversaw the launch of electro-pop music master Elijah Woods and singer Jamie Fine with their treatment of the Tedder-penned song “Ain’t Easy”. Borchetta was completely bowled over by Fine’s vocals describing her as a “street Adele”. Woods discovered her four years ago hearing her sing over a friend’s smartphone, and the two began working together a few days later. The song topped iTunes immediately upon release. Watch how things came together in the studio via the video embedded below.

Drake Bowls a Spare

There is only one thing that can knock out a pinned number one – a perfectly aimed bowling ball, and Drake let one loose. The above “Ain’t Easy” was knocked to #2 at iTunes by the Drake fastball, a new song entitled “God’s Plan”, part of a traditional (i.e. two-track) single. (“Diplomatic Immunity” sits on the B-Side.) In the new #1 song in Canada, Drake raps about how he thinks a higher power will not let him fail despite ill-will from his haters.

The JUNOs Get Bare Naked

The JUNO Awards recently announced this year’s inductee into the Music Hall of Fame – Barenaked Ladies along with ex-member Steven Page. BNL became extremely popular in Toronto long before breaking out nationally, and then internationally. The collective, that initially received some heat for its name, scored two Top 40 hits in Britain including “One Week” which made it to #5 there. Album Gordon was certified Diamond in Canada. BNL has won eight JUNO Awards to date. The group’s popularity was at its peak in the 1990s.

Gord Bamford and the New releases

Albertan platinum country star Gord Bamford releases his latest album Neon Smoke this week. JUNO winner Dubmatix joins Jamaican act Sly & Robbie for some reggae on Overdubbed. Heavy metal group Anvil is still rockin’ releasing its 17th studio album Pounding the Pavement. Singer-songwriter discs this week include one from two-time JUNO winner Bahamas (Earthtone) and newcomer Sarah Cripps, a self-titled work. A couple of sumptuous jazz albums are out. Chillout instrumental city jazz comes by way of The Francois Richard Quartet and Liberation. A New Standard from Thompson Egbo-Egbo is a bright piano-led sizzler. Rap LPs include Oddball Slang from Ontarian Fresh Air and an eponymous disc from Alberta’s Cadence Weapon.

Chillout R&B is at its finest on EP Joseph from Birthday Boy & Trish. Indie rock flies on Cycles deux from L’Indice. In the kingdom of pop, find excellence on La tristesse n’est qu’une saison by Eric Charland and T’écrire by Mégane Cyr.

We leave you with the brand new single/MV from good ol’ Coeur de pirate, “Prémonition”.

Headlines and Footdots: The Launch of 2018 Edition

Ontario indigenous artist Logan Staats tops iTunes Canada with “The Lucky Ones (The Launch)”. CTV’s much hyped The Launch … launched … January 10, a six-part television series, in which five promising new artists showcase their vocals on cover songs. Two finalists are selected, and big-name mentors prep them to compete through the performance of a song that will, within 48 hours, be released as a single. Advisers for Episode 1 were Shania Twain (as main mentor), Scott Borchetta, and busbee. Logan was chosen over fellow finalist Vivian Hicks for his soulful treatment of song “The Lucky Ones”. Released as a single, the track skyrocketed to the summit of iTunes surging past Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello, and Justin Timberlake. Staats is from Six Nations, Ontario. Performances from the two finalists embedded below.

Meghan Patrick releases her sophomore album Country Music Made Me Do It. The Ontarian 2017 CCMA Female Artist of the Year winner has served the public her second country delicacy, and it has been well received, landing a spot in the iTunes Top 10 and receiving a score of 9/10 over at Exclaim! Magazine.

The Weeknd takes offence to H&M advertisement stating he will no longer be sponsoring the brand. The Stefan Persson (personal net worth $18.9 billion) retail clothier shot a promo photo of a hoodie that reads, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” Because it was worn by a non-White child, many chose to take offence including The Weeknd, who had formerly inked a deal with the company to model for them and develop pieces under his XO brand. Now regarding H&M as the uncoolest monkey in the jungle, he remarked on Twitter, “Woke up this morning shocked and embarrassed by this photo. I’m deeply offended and will not be working with @hm anymore…”

Alessia Cara will be performing at the 2018 United States’ Grammy Awards on January 28. The Ontario native has been nominated for three awards. She will be joining Khalid and Logic to deliver song “1-800-273-8255”. The shindig is to take place in New York City this year.

Two Canadian acts are nominated for 2018 BRIT Awards. The United Kingdom’s JUNOs, The Brits, recently unmasked the 2018 nominations. There are three international award categories and two of them have a Canadian artist in the running. Up for Best International Group is Arcade Fire and International Male Solo Artist is Drake.

Multiplatinum Albertan Jann Arden is releasing new album These Are the Days in mid-March. Jann joins a number of artists with album release dates set for the next few months: Grounders, Mild & Bone, Bahamas, Dumas, The Sheepdogs, Gord Bamford, Adrian Underhill, Hubert Lenoir, Jonathan Kawchuk, Good Lovelies, Séba et Horg, Cadence Weapon, The Fugitives, Leaving Thomas, Collette Savard, The Jim Cuddy Band, Grand Analog, Zaki Ibrahim, Ellen Doty, Suuns, Born Ruffians, U.S. Girls, Ought, Young Galaxy, and many more!