Canada will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017. To celebrate, a staggering $7.5 million has been earmarked for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to create a soundtrack to Canada. The instrumental piece aims to encompass the ambitions and vision that the nation has for tomorrow on a day that celebrates its long and diverse heritage.
The funding announcement was revealed last week, introduced by Toronto’s Orchestra playing a cover by modern rapper Drake, a nod to the musical talent that hails from Canada. So how else has Canada helped to shape some of the timeless songs we still listen to and love today?
Easily the founding father of Canada’s modern music scene, Leonard Cohen’s soothingly deep voice set the course for singer/songwriters in the late 1960s.
With an interest in politics, religion and the human experience, Cohen’s informative years were spent as an English speaker in Quebec – the Canadian city with Nouvelle-France flair. Today, a popular destination for those looking to soak up the continental culture while on holiday in Canada, Quebec undoubtedly helped to shape his career in poetry, art and, of course, music.
In modern times, Cohen’s certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ has found a new audience with his song Waiting for the Miracle being featured in the 1995 cult classic Natural Born Killers – a story by Quentin Tarantino.
We couldn’t mention Canadian music without talking about Neil Young, a singer whose simple acoustic style transcends genres and generations. Originally from Toronto, Young’s family moved to a small rural town in Ontario where he formed his unique storytelling voice in what he would later describe as “a sleepy little place.”
Ontario is home to some truly remarkable landscapes, notably Niagara Falls. While Young may be more at home on California’s coast these days, it’s not hard to see how growing up around such natural beauty spurred his imagination on to produce albums like Harvest Moon.
Few songs better define an era in music than Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, but you ‘Oughta Know’ that the singer is a Canadian native heralding from Canada’s capital Ottawa!
Morissette’s own roots are as vibrant as Ottawa city itself, having French, Irish and Hungarian ancestry in her family. Returning to the capital after a brief stint in Germany at the age of six, Morissette took up piano lessons and the rest is history.
Michael Bublé has enjoyed an exciting career in music and his first album snagged top ten positions in both the Canadian and UK charts, and he’s handsome and talented to boot!
The accomplished jazz singer was born in British Columbia, which perhaps accounts for the warm reception he receives amongst fans in the UK. While a young Bublé had ambitions to play professional ice hockey for the Vancouver Canucks, his family recognised his naturally appealing voice and it was his grandfather who paid for Bublé to have singing lessons to hone those tones – money well spent!
While we couldn’t fit them all in, it’s only right to pay homage to the wealth of musical talent that Canada has helped to raise over the years. See the list below for the nation’s stellar line-up. Any surprises?
• Joni Mitchell
• Bryan Adams
• K.D. Lang
• Celine Dion
• Rufus Wainwright
• Martha and the Muffins
• Shania Twain