Canadian Albums Turning 20 in 2017

1997 was a year that saw massive flooding of the Red River in Manitoba. Confederation bridge linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick opened. Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident. Fourteen-year-old Reena Virk was beaten to death by classmates in Victoria. 43 were killed in Canada’s worst ever traffic accident as a tour bus fell off a cliff. Canadian film The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan about a school bus accident debuted. Motion picture Titanic by Canada’s James Cameron premiered at the cinema in December eventually setting a box office record which remained unbroken for 12 years. The Arrow, a mini-series about the Avro Arrow project, gained a large television viewership. Television comedy series Seinfeld topped the Nielsen ratings.

“Building a Mystery” by Sarah McLachlan was the #1 song of the year. Her album Surfacing was certified diamond (or 10x platinum) for sales of 1 million copies and won the Album of the Year JUNO the following year. Céline Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love which included “My Heart Will Go On” featured in the aforementioned film Titanic also went diamond. It won the same JUNO in 1999. Our Lady Peace released Clumsy, another diamond album. But surpassing all of them, reaching two million in sales, and becoming one of the most globally successful albums ever released, was Shania Twain’s Come on Over. 1997 saw the release of more Canadian albums certified multiplatinum than any other year in history with a total of 13. It was possibly the biggest year ever for album sales. Other big sellers were Loreena McKennitt’s The Book of Secrets at quadruple platinum. Play by Great Big Sea made triple platinum.

Double platinum albums in 1997 were Big Wreck’s In Loving Memory Of…, Bruno Pelletier’s Miserer, Chantalk Kreviazuk’s Under These Rocks and Stones, Diana Krall’s Love Scenes, Jann Arden’s Happy?, The Tea Party’s Transmission, and The Tragically Hip’s Live Between Us.

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Headlines for Mid June 2015

Shawn Hook Strikes Gold

British Columbian pop star Shawn Hook has scored his first gold single as “Sound of Your Heart” hit the 40,000 purchase mark. Shawn’s new album Analog Love is out now, and he will be presenting at the MMVAs this weekend.

shawn hook - sound of your heart gold copy

Ed Sheeran Surprises a Young Singer at West Edmonton Mall

British superstar Ed Sheeran emerged from a record shop at West Edmonton Mall when he heard 13-year-old Sydney Bourbeau singing one of his songs on stage. He stunned her when he walked onto the stage and joined her. Ed will be co-hosting the MMVAs this weekend in Toronto.

Jess Moskaluke and Wes Mack Open for Shania Twain in Winnipeg

Saskatchewan’s Jess Moskaluke, CCMA recipient of female artist of the year, surprised country fans in Winnipeg when she joined Alberta’s Wes Mack opening for superstar Shania Twain. The latter still holds the record for the best-selling country music album of all time, Come On Over. Her shoes are going to be difficult to fill, but we believe Jess can do it.

wes mack jess moskaluke winnipeg shania twain

Mia Martina Tops CanCon BDS Top 40

Mia Martina’s latest single “Beast” is the top CanCon single on Top 40 radio, at #9 this week. Mia will be performing at the MMVAs this weekend, and her second album (self-titled) is out now. Generally speaking, Canadian broadcasters have been cold-shouldering Canadian female recording artists in 2015, so Mia’s accomplishment is that more incredible.

Mia Martina ca

The Weeknd Owns the Top 3 CanCon Singles on the Hot 100

With his new single, “Can’t Feel My Face” debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 at #13, the Weeknd owns the top 3 CanCon spots on the chart, the other two being “Earned It” (#15) and “The Hills” (#17). The Weeknd will also be performing at the MMVAs.

the weeknd

We leave you with the brand new music video from Elliot Maginot for track “Still Alive” from excellent album Young Old Everything In Between released back in February.

Selected New Releases, 3 March 2015

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Platinum, JUNO-nominated recording artist Laurence Jalbert, from Rivière-au-Renard, QC, releases both an autobiography and accompanying album, À la vie, à la mer, which contains re-recorded, stripped down versions of her greatest hits, mainly performed with just acoustic guitar and voice. Edmonton’s JUNO-nominated Purity Ring, a duo specializing in the electronic alternative field, launches latest album Another Eternity. We are impressed with Thomas D’Arcy’s new album Fooled You Twice, an organic pop tour de force with top notch production and some alternative sprinklings. He’s from Toronto. Montreal’s Julie Blanche gives us her debut full-length album crafted by some of the personnel behind Arcade Fire, Thus Owls, and Timber Timbre. It’s a beautifully detailed, slightly haunting alternative pop work.

The Lemming Ways, also from Montreal, launches a really good upbeat alt-rock, self-titled album. Officer of the Order of Canada, violinist Angèle Dubeau, reteams with chamber orchestra La Pieta. Dubeau’s previous album, Blanc, was certified gold and is up for a JUNO this year. The new album is Ludovico Einaudi: Portrait with interpretations of pieces from the Italian composer. We don’t normally mark LPs of non-original material with consideration for our year-end albums list; however, the album is so stunning that we have made an exception. Bïa, originally from Brazil, is a JUNO nominated artist based in Montreal. She specializes in world music, and her new album is called Navegar which is Portuguese for navigate. Finally, the queen of country Shania Twain presents a live album from her shows in Las Vegas.

Shania Twain

Born: 1965, Windsor, ON
Debut: 1993
Genre: Country, Country Pop

Achievements

• 3 double-diamond albums
• 11th best-selling album of all-time worldwide (Come on Over)
• Best-selling album worldwide by a Canadian artist (Come on Over)
• Has sold 65 million records worldwide
• Inducted into the Music Hall of Fame (2011)
• Star on the Walk of Fame (2003)
• Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2011)
• 19 Top Ten Singles on the country charts, including 13 number ones
• 13 Top Thirty Singles on the pop charts, including 6 Top Tens
• 3rd biggest song of 1998 in the United States (“You’re Still the One”)
• Five American Grammy Awards
• Won all 12 Juno Awards for which she was nominated
• Juno for Artist of the Year, 2003

Primary Albums and Singles

1993: Shania Twain

• 2x Platinum

1995: The Woman in Me

• 2x Diamond
• Singles: “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” (#1 CC), “Any Man of Mine” (#1 CC), “The Woman in Me” (#1 CC), “I’m Outta Here” (#1 CC), “You Win My Love” (#1 CC), “No One Needs to Know” (#1 CC), “Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is” (#10 CC), “God Bless the Child” (#7 CC)

1997: Come on Over

• 2x Diamond
• 40 million copies sold worldwide
• 11th best-selling album of all-time worldwide
• Best-Selling album of all-time worldwide by a Canadian artist
• Singles: “Love Gets Me Every Time”, (#1 CC), “Don’t Be Stupid” (#1 CC), “You’re Still the One” (#1 CC; #7 PC), “From This Moment On” (#1 CC; #13 PC), “When” (#14 PC), “Honey, I’m Home” (#1 CC), “That Don’t Impress Me Much” (#2 CC; #5 PC), “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” (#2 CC; #18 PC), “You’ve Got a Way” (#1 CC; #17 PC), “Come on Over” (#1 CC), “Rock This Country” (#3 CC), “I’m Holdin’ On to Love” (#4 CC)

2002: Up!

• 2x Diamond
• Singles: “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” (#2 PC), “Up!” (#2 PC), “Forever and for Always” (#5 PC), “Ka-Ching!” (#8 UK), “Thank You Baby!” (#11 UK), “When You Kiss Me” (#21 UK)

2004: Greatest Hits

• 6x Platinum
• Singles: “Party for Two” (#2 PC), “Don’t” (#24 PC), “I Ain’t No Quitter” (#22 PC)

Legend: CC = Country Charts, PC = Pop Charts, UK = United Kingdom Pop Charts

“I saw this little girl up on stage with a guitar and it absolutely blew me away. … She sang a few songs that she had written, and I thought to myself, this kid is like nineteen years old, where does she get this? This is from a person who’s lived sixty years.”
                                                                                                               —Mary Bailey

Sharon Morrison and Clarence Edwards of Windsor, Ontario had a third daughter in 1965 whom they named Eileen. Two years later they divorced and Sharon took her three daughters to Timmins, Ontario where she was soon remarried to Jerry Twain. The family was extremely poor and Eileen’s parents often got into violent fights. Eileen began singing songs by The Carpenters, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt in bars at the age of eight to earn extra money for the family. She was invited to perform on the “Tommy Hunter Show” on CBC television when she was 13. She became lead singer of the local band Longshot which covered pop songs.

Eileen joined her father’s tree planting business in the harsh environment of northern Ontario. During her leisure time, she would play the guitar in the forest and write songs. In 1983, Eileen graduated from high school. By this time, Longshot had disbanded and she joined the band Flirt which toured the province. She also started singing lessons from Ian Garrett and cleaned his home as payment. She was eventually noticed by Toronto DJ Stan Campbell which led to her singing backing vocals for Tim Denis’ song “Heavy on the Sunshine”.

Regional country star Mary Bailey had heard Eileen perform in Sudbury and was so impressed that she invited Twain down to Nashville, USA introducing her to record producer Tony Migliore who was working on Kelita Haverland’s album. Twain was asked to provide backing vocals on the song “Too Hot to Handle”. This was in the fall of 1985. Twain and Bailey moved in together as flatmates.

After a number of false starts, Twains’ musical trajectory was interrupted in November, 1987, when her mother and stepfather were killed in a car accident. She had to return to Timmins to care for her younger siblings, taking them all to Huntsville, Ontario where she supported them by earning money by performing at a nearby resort.

After a few years, Twain’s younger siblings were old enough to make it on their own. She put together a demo tape of her songs and her Huntsville manager presented them to record executives in 1991. Mercury Records of Nashville offered her a contract. It was during this time that she settled on the stage name Shania.

Her self-titled debut album came out in 1993. Although it did not spawn any significant hit singles, it drew positive reviews from critics and caught the attention of British genius producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who had scored huge hits with Bryan Adams, AC/DC, Foreigner, and Def Leppard. He volunteered to co-write and produce Twain’s next album. They met in Nashville in June. Six months later, they married.

The songs they wrote contained catchy musical hooks and cheeky, pun-filled lyrics, and the production showcased a slick, sexy contemporary sound, unlike anything gone before in country music. The resulting album, The Woman in Me, was released in 1995 and its first single, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” shot up the country charts to number one. It was not to be the only chart-topping single from the album. Five more songs went straight to number one. And the album, itself, became the second in Canadian history to be certified double-diamond at home (after Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill).

Come on Over appeared in 1997 and did even better. With it, Twain became the only Canadian artist, up to the present day, to score a second double-diamond album at home. The album spawned an unprecedented seven number one singles on the country charts, generated six Top 20 singles on the pop charts, produced the third biggest song of the year 1998 on the Billboard Hot 100, sold 40 million copies worldwide, and became the 11th best-selling album of all-time (1st by a Canadian artist).

In Y2K, Twain and Lange moved into a mansion on the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland and had a son the following year.

2002’s Up! included two discs with the same track listings. The green disc was a country mix of the songs while the red disc was a pop mix. Apparently there was a third blue disc available, in the style of Indian music with parts recorded in Mumbai. Up! became Twain’s third double-diamond album in Canada. The album became very successful in Europe with singles released there that were not in North America. Twain also made many appearances on Britain’s Top of the Pops. The following year, Shania was named Female Artist of the Year at the Junos and was given a star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto.

A greatest hits album came out in 2004 which included a few new songs. It sold over 600,000 copies in Canada.

Twain mostly disappeared from the limelight until announcing her divorcing Lange in 2008. Afterwards, she married Swiss businessman Frederic Thiebaud and came out with an autobiography, From This Moment On. She was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame and received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2011. She revealed, in an interview with George Stroumboulopoulos, that she was suffering from dysphonia which had affected her singing, preventing her from releasing further material. But in June of that year, Twain’s first single in six years was released: “Today Is Your Day”, co-produced by David Foster and Nathan Chapman. She also announced that she will be headlining Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas for two years beginning December 1st, 2012.

                    Copyright 2011 by the Canadian Music Blog

Branching Out and Conquering Other Genres (1997-1999)

Canadian music showed no signs of slowing down through the remainder of the decade. What was unique about the late-90s was that, Canadian artists began to branch out and conquer other genres of music. Pop and rock had been championed by a plethora of Canadians as had folk; it was time to show that we could produce a superstar in other fields of music.

Although Canada had always done well in the country music scene, ever since Wilf Carter appeared in the 1930s, it was time for a Canadian superstar to churn out three double-diamond albums in a row, a feat completely unprecedented. Her catchy music appealed to children, teenagers, young adults, older adults, and even seniors. It was so irresistible that a few of her songs crossed over onto the pop charts. One was the third biggest song of 1998 in the United States. She teamed up with musical genius “Mutt” Lange, who had worked with Bryan Adams, and married him. Her name was Shania Twain.

So-called R&B had always been a genre that appealed more to the populace south of the border. But a Torontonian fell in love with it and decided to make a career out of performing these kinds of songs. She never became a big name in Canada, but, in 1998, her song “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” was a million-seller in the U.S., peaking at #2 on the pop charts and topping their R&B charts for 14 consecutive weeks, smashing all records. Her name was Deborah Cox. She scored a big hit in Canada later on in 2009; “Beautiful U R” was 39th of the year.

The late-90s also saw the rise of the biggest-selling female jazz artist in the world, a Canadian. Most jazz artists could never hope to sell as many records as pop or country artists but Diana Krall sold 15 million worldwide. Eight of her albums debuted at the top of the Billboard jazz albums charts, six of them being certified multi-platinum at home.

Another genre conquered was Celtic / New Age, thanks to harp-player Loreena McKennitt and her hauntingly beautiful voice. Her three albums released in the 90s all went 3-4x platinum and in 1997 she scored a Top 10 hit on the pop charts.

Canadians were not satisfied with their newfound success in France which began not with Celine Dion but with Roch Voisine. Two more superstars arose to score diamond albums in the land of the Eiffel Tower. The first was roots rocker Isabelle Boulay. The second was to become the second best-selling Canadian artist in France (after Celine Dion). He was born in Sherbrooke and is known for his throaty singing style. He currently holds the SNEP record for the most weeks at number one. His name is Garou.

Toronto’s Our Lady Peace, thanks to a diamond album, was the hottest new band to emerge. Frontman and primary songwriter Raine Maida formed a musical family by marrying Chantal Kreviazuk, a former childhood prodigy, who, herself, became one of the most cherished singer-songwriters in the country.

1997

Many new artists arose this year. The biggest song of the year, as mentioned previously, was Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”. Second to that was Our Lady Peace’s “Clumsy” which appeared on the year-end chart at #14. Another new band to emerge was St. John’s folky Great Big Sea. Their song “When I’m Up” appeared in the year-end chart at #62. They managed a pair of platinum and of multi-platinum albums and scored a few more hits. The Philosopher Kings were another semi-major act, their first big song being “I Am the Man”. Band members met while in high school in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill. They scored a couple more Top 10 hits the following year. Saskatoon’s bluesy Wide Mouth Mason scored their biggest hit “Midnight Rain” (#56 YE). Another band from Saskatchewan had a hit this year. Age of Electric’s “Remote Control” finished as the 71st biggest hit of the year. Toronto’s Big Sugar added a dash of reggae to their music and had their first hit single “If I Had My Way”. Fellow locals I Mother Earth scored their biggest hit, “Raspberry” which pushed sales of their album to double-platinum status. Vancouver’s Econoline Crush attained one-hit wonder class with “All That You Are”.

Isabelle Boulay, from the town of Sainte-Félicité, on the north shore of the Gaspé peninsula, scored her first hit,” Je t’oublierai, je t’oublierai” off her debut album. Although she’d been around since 1993, Nanaimo, BC’s Diana Krall made it to the big leagues when her album Love Scenes, released this year, attained double-platinum status, a difficult feat in the realm of jazz. Chantal Kreviazuk scored her first hit “God Made Me”, the 77th biggest song of the year. Halifax’s fusion artist Holly Cole made a name for herself with “I’ve Just Seen a Face”. Another Holly (McNarland) emerged from The Pas, Manitoba and gave us the hit “Numb”. Later she collaborated with the likes of Matthew Good and The Tea Party.

The biggest name in male soloists was Sherbrooke’s Garou, a stage name that is a combination of his surname Garand and the French expression loup-garou, which means werewolf. He was discovered by Luc Plamondon while performing in a local bar and subsequently drafted to play in Notre-Dame de Paris. The song “Belle” from the musical, sung by himself, Canada’s Daniel Lavoie, and France’s Patrick Fiori, became the third best-selling single of all-time in France (after two novelty songs). In 2000, Garou released his debut album Seul, certified diamond in France, and one of the biggest-selling French-language albums in history worldwide. He eventually became the best-selling Canadian artist in France after Celine Dion.

Bruno Pelletier was another new name this year. He was born in Charlesbourg, a suburb of Quebec City. His debut had come in 1992 but, with the 1997 single “Aime”, saw his first Felix-nominated song of the year. The only other male artist to have a big hit this year was Men Without Hats’ Ivan whose song “Open Your Eyes” made the year-end Top 100 chart.

1998

Big hits this year included Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the number one movie of all-time (at the time) Titanic. Bryan Adams had two chart-toppers: “On a Day Like Today” and “Back to You”. Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” was a number one single as well. In the United States, the two biggest songs of the year were “Too Close” by Next and “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica respectively. In third place was a song called “You’re Still the One” by a Canadian country artist from Windsor, Ontario, named Shania Twain. She achieved the unimaginable: three consecutive studio albums were certified double-diamond in Canada (2 million copies sold).

Manitoban Celtic new ager, master of voice, piano, accordion, and harp, Loreena McKennitt, had been around since the mid-80s, scored a quadruple-platinum album in 1991, called The Visit, and had her first big hit, “The Mummers’ Dance”, on the pop singles chart this year.

Montreal’s Éric Lapointe scored his first Felix-nominated song of the year, “Rien à regretter”. According to some sources, he had as many as 30 songs that topped the charts on various radio stations and singles charts in Quebec.

Toronto’s dance band Love Inc. scored a couple of hits this year: “Broken Bones” #31 and “You’re a Supertar” #13. A few years later they were discovered by Britain and both songs became Top 10 hits there. There are some who credit their debut with being the only dance album created in Canada to attain platinum status.

On a side-note, a dance version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” was performed by the international group Stars on 54 and was featured in the Mike Myers’ film Studio 54. It peaked at #3 on the charts.

1999

The three biggest Canadian songs of the year came via new artists. While the Americans were taken by Toronto’s Deborah Cox who supplied the 9th biggest song of the year in the U.S., Montreal pop duo Sky scored the first of three number one singles called “Love Song”, the 6th biggest song of the year. In eighth place was Randy Bachman’s son Tal with the song “She’s So High”. And at 15th spot was the Toronto one-hit wonder group Len (“Steal My Sunshine”).

Besides Sky and Len, there were a number of new bands this year. Bluesy La Chicane debuted and scored the hit “Calvaire”. The Moffatts were four brothers who had grown up in various locales in B.C. They relocated to Nashville in the U.S. and released their first (country) album. Later they switched to pop and scored their first hit “Misery”. Montreal’s Les Respectables came out with “Amalgame”. Dance trio The Boomtang Boys scored the hit “Squeeze Toy”. Toronto’s dance group Temperance had the hit “If You Don’t Know” and 2 rude had “Thinkin’ about You”

Mario Pelchat, from Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC, won the Felix award for song of the year with “Je ne t’aime plus”. Francophone Italian-Canadian Nicola Ciccone appeared this year with the song “Le menteur”. Dance artist Joee scored the hit “Arriba”, the 51st biggest song of the year. Martin Deschamps saw his first hit—”Quand?” He took on the role of lead singer for the reunited Offenbach.

There were no new significant female soloists this year.

Coming up are lists of big songs and albums from the late-90s; a list of Juno and Felix song nominees and winners; mini-profiles on semi-major artists La Chicane, Nicola Ciccone, Holly Cole, Great Big Sea, The Moffatts, Mario Pelchat, Bruno Pelletier, The Philosopher Kings, and Sky; and feature profiles on major artists Isabelle Boulay, Garou, Diana Krall, Chantal Kreviazuk, Éric Lapointe, Loreena McKennitt, Our Lady Peace, and Shania Twain.