Hallelujah! It’s Sophie.


Story:Lenny Stoute

‘Tis the season to be hungover and ‘tis a reckless journalist who skeds an interview for 9.a.m. Especially with rising jazz vocalist Sophie Berkal-Sarbit who comes on as bright eyed and bushy tailed as well -  one of Santa’s reindeer.

The occasion for all this is the release of the lady’s time-stopping version of “Hallelujah”. Yep, the Lenny Cohen standard that’s been around the block with just about everyone on the block, most recently given the anthemic treatment by Stephen Page at Jack Layton’s State funeral.
So why would a fresh young thing want to step out with this old dude?

“ It’s a song I’ve admired for a long time, everything about it. Oh yeah, lots of people were warning me off it, saying it’s overdone etc. So I listened to a lot of versions but I was still left feeling like I should do my own treatment.”

The built-in role of an interpretive vocalist is to bring something different to the piece. Given its many treatments, Sophie knew she had to have something unique in mind before stepping in front of the mic and answers without hesitation, “I did it from the viewpoint of a 21 year old. It’s basically a mix of some bleak imagery along with an instance on the beauty that is there too. This is not always easy to keep in mind, especially for my generation, given the way the world is. That's another reason I wanted to do it, It’s just such a beautiful songs and I wanted to put a beautiful thing out there”.

Tonya Kennedy – Making All The Right Moves

Cover, Dec 09, 2011

Story: Don Graham

The journey of any recording artist is filled with potholes, pitfalls, dead ends, unmarked exits and dangerous turns. The secret to any successful journey is making wise choices and looking at Tonya Kennedy’s steadily rising career, you can see she’s making all the right moves. A native of Newfoundland, now living just north of Toronto in Barrie, Ontario, Tonya Kennedy is poised to take her rightful place in the fabric of the Canadian Country music scene.

Originally making a splash in the pop music market, Kennedy found her true calling in 2005. That was the year she was entered in a competition at KX96 Country Music Radio in Durham, Ontario and was awarded the title of KX96 Super Star Search winner. The grand prize was a chance to record and release a song to Canadian radio. This was the kick-start the dedicated young performer needed and things started falling into place.

In 2010 Tonya made her first video with a country version of rocker Bryan Adams song When You’re Gone.  Current single Fallin’ For You is doing very well at Canadian radio and as Kennedy explained; “ This song is probably the lightest of my current material.”
The new CD will be a little more cutting edge, showing her versatility. Kennedy was just recently approved by FACTOR to complete her next CD, a ten song effort, which the City of Barrie is also helping fund.

Gary Slaight to receive prestigious CARAS Award


Story:Sandy Graham

Music industry icon Gary Slaight is making broadcast news again but this time it is about him.  The Arts philanthropist, burgeoning music industry mogul and former Standard Broadcasting owner and CEO is to be honoured for his contributions to the Canadian music industry at the 2012 Juno Awards. 
Slaight is the 2012 recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, given by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. “He’s not only distinguished himself as a music innovator, he has made it his mandate to proactively support our nation’s talented artists” said CARAS president Melanie Berry. The award will be given at the 2012 Juno Awards in Ottawa on March 31. Slaight’s father, Allan, received the same distinguished award in 2005 in Winnipeg.

Slaight is a longtime staunch supporter of Canadian music. Not only did he create the National Songwriting Contest, but as well the Canadian Radio Music Awards.  Slaight was named Broadcast Executive of the Year in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 2004, he received the Outstanding Community Service by an Individual Broadcaster award at the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.

Gary was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in March 2005.  and received the Canadian Association of Broadcasters 2007 Gold Ribbon Award for Broadcast Excellence, as well as the Humanitarian Spirit Award at the 2010 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards.

Music Industry Icons make up The Board of the Unison Benevolent Fund


Story:Sandy Graham

The music industry in Canada stretches across many sectors and offers many different types of employment. That, though, it is a relatively small and close-knit community. Often we have seen our friends and colleagues fall on tough times due in part to the many changes the industry has gone through over the past 10 years. We've also experienced the pain of losing friends and peers to illness or accidents and seen up close the heartache and unanticipated financial hardship that these tragedies create for families.

Because so many of us are self-employed, we don't have access to pension plans, unemployment insurance, employee assistance programs, sick leave and medical benefits; when tragedy strikes, many are unprepared to deal with the devastating financial and emotional burdens left in its wake.

Our Board of Directors represents a wide variety of sectors in the music industry; labels, publishers, the live sector, music industry associations, and of course, artists. Unison is the brainchild of Jodie Ferneyhough and Catharine Saxberg, both of whom had been touched by the loss and illness of several friends. Catharine had seen that similar relief programs existed in other sectors, and decided it was time to unite the music industry: to create a process by which we can help each other.

Garland Jeffreys - The Return of the King of In Between

Cover, Dec 1, 2011

Story: Michael Williams

According to Bernard Perusse (The Montreal Gazette) it was the 2nd coming of a legend whose time has come. The first surprise came in 1978 as Garland Jeffreys played the Montreal Forum and “Ghost Writer” became a CHOM-FM and Montreal classic album. Next the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2002 and again in 2004 with 50,000 people in the streets. Now in 2011 in support of a new CD,”The King of In Between”, he burned down Rubin Fogel’s Club Soda!
 But It took Garland Jeffreys to remind us what in we all know is true:
 “Hail Hail Rock n Roll” (Garland Jeffreys)   
Pockets of hate, rockets of love
It’s never too late, the change in the color of
The color of her, the color of him
It really doesn’t matter what skin you’re in
Big yellow taxicab passed me by
Stopped on the next corner to pick up a white guy
The color of you, the color of me
You can’t judge a man by looking at the marquee
Hail hail rock ‘n’ roll comes from r ‘n’ b and soul
Don’t leave me standing in the cold
I used to fake ‘I never grow old’
Hail hail rock ‘n’ roll, don’t leave me standing on the bleak
Don’t leave me stranded on the street
I see the light, I feel the heat

Michael Williams recently had the opportunity to speak with Garland Jeffreys:

Out on the Prairie with Little Miss Higgins


Story: Lenny Stoute

Say you turned down a hidden street in a strangely familiar city you’ve never been in before, following raucous Twenties blues tinged with the sad strain of Appalachia. You follow the music swirling with the smoke into a club looks like home base for time travellers. Burning through the haze onstage a sultry woman with knowing eyes and a slash of scarlet for a moth and a voice for the ages, from the ages. So you surrender to the slippery sound worming itself inside your brain and time slips and the faces around you in vintage dresses and fedoras give no clue as to what time it is, even when time it is.

Such is the sonic world of Little Miss Higgins and you’d best be aware it’ll suck in and flush you out a believer. It’s been like that since the age of four, when Jolene Higgins’ daddy brought home a piano and encouraged his wee daughter to bang away at it. “It was a mini grand piano. He brought it home and told me it was mine. I carved my name in the side and started taking piano lessons.”

As with most of the breed, in her teens Higgins switched to guitar and started playing rock’n’roll. Until she caught the blues infection off a local radio station and fell under the spell of great blues ladies like Memphis Minnie and Billie Holiday,

It’s the 7th Annual Andy Kim Christmas Show

Andy Kim Cashbox Cover Nov. 25.jpg

Story:Sandy Graham

The season is upon us, not just Christmas but the Andy Kim Christmas Show 2011. Now in it’s 7th year, this show has become a tradition in Toronto, and the man behind it all is none other than Andy Kim.

Andy Kim found fame in New York City at just 16 years old when he wrote “How'd We Ever Get This Way?” the first of nine Billboard Top 40 hits, including #1 songs “Rock Me Gently” and “Sugar, Sugar”, names as one of Billboard's ‘Greatest Songs of All Time.’ A true Canadian son, Andy has been awarded the country's top industry honor twice; the JUNO Award for outstanding achievements in the record industry, as well as the "Indie Award" for Favorite Solo Artist in 2005.

Over his epic career, Andy has sold over 30 million records, with songs covered by music history's greats, including Wilson Pickett, Tom Jones, Michelle Wright, Ike & Tina Turner, and Bob Marley and has even been said to influence 80’s metal band Def Leppard. He has recently performed and co-wrote songs with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith.



Story: Lenny Stoute

“Hello Lenny. It’s Tom Jackson”, says the warmest baritone currently wearing an Officer of the Order of Canada medal. It’s the week before Jackson’s annual Christmas national tour in support of the Canadian Association of Food Banks and he’s all enthusiastic as he talks about the prospect.

Jackson came up with his novel cross-country benefit tour 20 years ago and sadly, the needs and wants that pushed him to take action are still with us, in ever-growing Dickensian numbers. It’s a situation which engenders mixed feelings in the big man.

“ The good news is that since I’ve been doing this we’ve generated $200 million in cash and goods for a variety of food banks, community service agencies and disaster relief. The sad news is that there is still the need for me to keep doing this. "

“ What was started as a one-of has become my job and I couldn’t find another that suits me better. There will always be the gap between the haves and the have-nots. As humans, I feel it is all our jobs to work to narrow that gap. "

“ That’s what gets me up in the morning; knowing that whatever I have to do that day relates to being pro-active about narrowing the gap, So when you ask how much longer I intend on doing this, the answer is simply as long as there is breath in my body. It’s what I live and breathe. ”

He also sings, acts, writes songs and most recently the script for a play. All of the activities cross-pollinate each other and come to a kind of peak with the seasonal concerts.

Rock’n with Derringer in the Morning

Cover, Nov 18, 2011

Story: Bill Delingat

It was in the mid 80’s, when hair bands ruled and rock stations controlled the airwaves that a sportscaster and radio host from Q107 rolled up to the big east end night club for the international arm wrestling championships.

John Gallagher and John Derringer entered the main hall as celebrity hosts for the event and checked out the competition tables and the competitors.

It was Derringer who noticed the female division and a particular petite blonde from the East coast competing for the World Championship.

Derringer commented to Gallagher, “I bet I can take her, what about you?” “You’re the sports guy”. The two brazen jocks knew a lead in when they saw it and introduced themselves to the ladies’ team and the champ from Nova Scotia. That led of course to the idea of a friendly arm wrestle. When the lassie removed her jacket to expose a right arm that seemed that as if it belonged to Popeye, the boys decided to regroup and maybe even toss a coin to see who would jump in and ”Win one for the Gipper”.

I am silenced by code to say for certain which of our valiant heroes fell to the awesome power of that humongous right arm on what would be otherwise a petite East coater but we can say ‘That was one for the ladies”.

Now, some 30 years later and after a 9-year stint with Q107, Gallagher has moved on. Derringer who first joined Q107 in 1984 stayed with the station until 1993. He later returned in 2000,


Cover, Nov 11, 2011

Story: Darcy Grant

Through the first and second World Wars, the Korean conflict and Vietnam, great songs were written and recorded supporting our troops in their epic battles. All of these aided in the memory of the fated soldiers whose lives were lost in these wars. Now with the Middle East wars being fought, we are responsible for making sure the people of today’s world are reminded to remember those who have fought and died in the 21st century wars.

Fortunately, Canada’s songwriters have continued to write songs showing their appreciation and love for the current men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Some notable songs to check out, Terry Sumsion’s Highway of Heroes, Aaron Lines’ poignant Somebody’s Son, Dean Brody’s moving Brothers, Don Graham’s thought provoking Heart of a Hero, Julian Austin’s patriotic The Red and White, Terry Kelly’s A Pittance of Time and Jon Patterson’s emotive Hero, are shining examples.

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