Anne Connor Introduces Us To Five Artists From Canada
You Should Get To Know
Anne was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, she is the co-founder of multi award winning Blues & Roots Radio and Boreal PR.
She hosts Blues & Roots Radio's Album Of The Week, a radio show which airs daily focusing on releases by independent artists from around the world.
For the last ten years she has selflessly promoted independent artists from Canada and beyond, through live show promotions, with her publicity work and through creating the international platform Blues & Roots Radio. Anne has won numerous awards for her tireless work supporting artists at local, national and international levels.
We asked Anne for five artists who we should get to know from Canada.
Anne say's " It was very hard to choose just five artists, the talent in Canada is so exceptional, I'll give you five more great artists the next time around. "
David Francey is a Scottish-born Canadian carpenter-turned-songwriter, who has become known as “one of Canada’s most revered folk poets and singers” (Toronto Star). Born in Ayrshire, Scotland to parents who were factory workers, he moved to Canada when he was twelve. For decades, he worked across Canada in rail yards, construction sites, and in the Yukon bush, all the while writing poetry, setting it to melodies in his head and singing it to himself as he worked.
A truly authentic folk singer, Francey is a documentarian of the working person who never imagined earning a living from his music. But when he was in his 40s, his wife, artist Beth Girdler, encouraged him to share his songs and sing in public. The reaction was instant. His first album Torn Screen Door came out in 1999 and was a hit in Canada. Since then, he has released eleven albums, won three Juno Awards and has had his songs covered by such artists as The Del McCoury Band, The Rankin Family, James Keelaghan and Tracy Grammer.
Francey also had the honour of receiving the prestigious SOCAN Folk Music Award as well as taking home the Grand Prize in both the International Acoustic Music Award and in the Folk category for the John Lennon Songwriting Award.
"David’s straightforward songs tell honest stories of real people and real places. Poetic perception and a keen eye for the heart of the matter are trademarks of the man and his music. His songs and stories are a direct connection for audiences seeking depth and meaning in the day-to-day." Shelter Valley Folk Festival
David Francey was born in Ayrshire, Scotland where he got his first taste of the working life as a paperboy. At age 10 he was devouring the newspapers he delivered, establishing a life-long interest in politics and world events while developing the social conscience that forms the backdrop of his songs.
COCO LOVE ALCORN
“Coco is the ultimate musical spark plug... an electrical connector through which the creative energy flows. In my 30 years of touring around the world, I have never seen another performer able to bring people together like Coco does.” ~ James Keelaghan - Artist Director, Summerfolk and renowned Canadian singer/ songwriter
The first thing you notice about Coco Love Alcorn, is the voice. It's a rich, dynamic, supremely soulful instrument – hailed by the press as extraordinary, beautiful, and stunning – that has a way of touching your heart and making you care.
As a performer, Alcorn is always in the moment, joyful, and genuine. She combines diverse musical influences including jazz, R&B, pop, folk, and Gospel. Her playful and witty character, love of improvising, and willingness to engage fearlessly with the audience has made Alcorn an established presence on the Canadian music scene.
Born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and now based in Owen Sound, Ontario, Alcorn’s career has spanned more than 20 years, 12 (9 solo) albums, cross-Canada tours, collaborations, festival appearances, award nominations, and notable success in TV and film licensing. And it took someone with a spirit like Alcorn's to navigate this path.
Julian Taylor doesn’t fit in a box. He never has—and more power to him. A Toronto music scene staple and a musical chameleon, Julian Taylor is used to shaking it up over the course of 10 albums in the last two decades. Of West Indian and Mohawk descent, Taylor first made his name as frontman of Staggered Crossing, a Canadian rock radio staple in the early 2000s. These days, however, the soulful singer/guitarist might be on stage one night playing with his eponymous band, spilling out electrified rhythm and blues glory, and the next he’ll be performing at a folk festival delivering a captivating solo singer-songwriter set. His songs have been placed in shows like Kim’s Convenience, Haven, Private Eyes and Elementary. He’s been invited to perform at two Olympic Games. The soulful blues, rhythmic soul, rootsy rock riffs and troubadour-esque folk songs that comprise his music are worth putting your busy life on hold for. In everything he does, Taylor has carved his own path, creating genre-free music with a generosity of spirit and a strong belief in the healing powers of song. Off stage, Taylor recently ventured into radio; when the Indigenous radio station ELMNT FM opened in Toronto in 2018, Taylor became the station’s afternoon-drive host.
Taylor’s journey began in a musically artistic family: his father plays classical piano, while his cousins on both sides of his family sing and play music, and his uncle is the conductor of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, which focuses on Afrocentric vocal music. Taylor started piano at age 5 and learned acoustic guitar over summer campfires. In 1995, while still in high school, he formed the band The Midnight Blues and started playing open stages in North Toronto. That band morphed into Staggered Crossing who were signed to a publishing deal in 1997, and their self-titled debut, released in 2001, spawned four rock radio singles, including top 10 hit “Further Again.”
When Staggered Crossing split amicably in 2007, Taylor started anew as a solo artist with two albums of rootsier material, while grinding it out on the cover band circuit in small towns across Ontario. In 2014, he launched the Julian Taylor Band and this time, all bets were off: all of Taylor’s myriad influences were on the table, masterfully combining and updating vintage sounds that inspired him to create bold, innovative new songs. Modern pop, vintage R&B, smooth soul, and the rock’n’roll swagger he was known for, were all tied together with an intense devotion to craft and a collection of some of Toronto’s finest musicians. JTB have three studio albums to date—their acclaimed debut Tech Noir, released in 2014, the double record Desert Star released two years later and 2019’s acclaimed Avalanche—and have no plans to slow down, although in 2020 Taylor revisited his solo career with 2020’s contemplative The Ridge.
Toronto poet Robert Priest describes Taylor and his work as “the kind of artist forever in the zone, the voice limitless, the songs full of feeling.”
RED MOON ROAD
Born in a storm on a wild Canadian lake, Red Moon Road has come into their own on trails between coasts and journeys overseas. From living rooms to folk fest stages, the trio has performed more than 1000 shows since 2012. Evolving from acoustic folk roots, their sound currently integrates Sheena’s powerful vocals with lush pop harmonies and nuanced arrangements that combine percussion, banjo, slide guitar, and synths.
Following the chart-topping Sorrows and Glories, their Polaris long-listed sophomore album, Red Moon Road marks a return with the upcoming single, Say It Again, an anthem poised to call out the soulless rhetoric of gaslighters in positions of power.
THE JD EDWARDS BAND
The JD Edwards Band is a 6 piece Winnipeg based group with a fascinating history and a brand new story to tell. Together since 2006, this ever evolving group is driven by the uniquely infectious, engaging and heartfelt songwriting of band leader JD Edwards. With a truly original voice and a knack for crafting amazing songs, JD is able to capture every listener with an honest and uniquely personal touch. From gentle and melodic to fierce and powerful JD’s voice has a sound that embraces diversity as a strength.
JD’s eclectic songwriting style draws from a wide variety of musical experiences, honing a loud and gritty repertoire heavily influenced by Country, Blues, R & B, and Soul. Delivered with a contagious optimism and energy, each performance JD is able to draw in audiences with a real sense of musical purity. Offering a full pallet of textures and sounds the JD Edwards Band always manages to musically acknowledge their influences without compromising their ingenuity or principle. As a full group the band delivers time and time again with the subtlety and power required to capture their original and highly appealing signature sound. The JD Edwards Band is geared to hit the road and deliver its own brand of infectious Canadian music tailored to appeal to all.
JD EDWARDS & CARA LUFT
THE SMALL GLORIES
Roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories are Cara Luft & JD Edwards, a musical tour-de- force partnership planted on the Canadian Prairies. Thrown together purely by accident for an anniversary show at Winnipeg’s venerable West End Cultural Centre, The Small Glories could almost make you believe in fate.
With a stage banter striking a unique balance between slapstick and sermon, these veteran singer-songwriters have a way of making time disappear, rooms shrink, and audiences feel as though they are right there on the stage with the band. It’s not uncommon for listeners to find themselves laughing, dancing, crying, or caught up in a good ol’ fashioned sing- along. Their material is welcoming in terms of subject, folk-pop melody and instrumentation — songs of love, loss, and environment, delivered with soaring, interwoven vocals on various combinations of stomping clawhammer banjo, guitar and harmonica. However, a Small Glories performance is really about what happens in-between the songs. “The feedback we get from a lot of audiences is that it’s not just about the music for them,” Luft says. “It’s the whole package.”
On record, Luft and Edwards take the musical synergy honed from hundreds of shows together, and expand it into a new soundscape amplified by pounding drums and other textural embellishments which only reinforce the magic of their innate chemistry — a chemistry labeled the “Lennon-McCartney syndrome,” by Americana UK, writing, “Some things just work together... to witness a performance by The Small Glories is a rare opportunity to experience that indefinable quality that creates perfection.”
Luft, one of the original members of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, and Edwards duplicate and reinforce each others’ many strengths and yet allow their distinct personalities to shine through, resulting in a live show that is as heartwarming as it is hilarious, as finger-picking proficient as it is relatable, and as Canadian as, well... it’s very Canadian. But that hasn’t stopped ‘em from winning over audiences from Nashville to the Australian outback. Their appeal has garnered them a nomination for Artist of the Year through Folk Alliance International, with their highly anticipated 2019 sophomore album “Assiniboine & The Red” (Compass/Red House records) racking up 4 Canadian Folk Award nominations and being named ‘Album of the Year’ by the prestigious roots magazine Penguin Eggs.
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