INFORMER, DRINKING IN L.A., MY DEFINITION OF A BOOMBASTIC JAZZ STYLE and ECHO BEACH, redefined and reimagined music in an era of ‘no rules’
Song inductions will be honoured on November 1st in Toronto with performances during CSHF’s Legends Series, supported by the RBC Foundation through RBC Emerging Artists
The ‘80s and ‘90s ushered in a new era of music that transcended genres, introduced music experimentation and fusion, and was unapologetically rebellious. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is celebrating and inducting four generational and culture-defining songs co-written by Canadians, recorded by Canadians, and that have become internationally influential:
Informer, the biggest selling reggae-rap recording in the ‘90s co-written by Darrin O’Brien aka Snow with American rapper /producer Shawn Moltke (MC Shan), Terri Moltke, and Edmond Leary
Drinking in L.A., global club anthem by alt-rock hip-hop folk collective Bran Van 3000 co-written by James Di Salvio, Haig Vartzbedian and American Duane Larson
My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style, written by Louie Robinson (King Lou) and Richard Rodwell and recorded in 1991 by hip-hop duo Dream Warriors
Echo Beach, new wave ‘80s cult classic written by Mark Gane, co-founder of the Toronto band Martha and the Muffins
“As the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame marks 25 years of recognizing the songs and songwriters who have helped shape our culture, we are so excited to be moving into the selection of Inductees from the ‘80s and ‘90s — one of the most diverse, creative and ground-breaking eras in music that truly opened up the gates to global success for many Canadians,” said Stan Meissner, CSHF Board Chairman. “The four songs that will be inducted are vastly different from each other – from new wave to jazz infused hip hop; from reggae-rap to a laid-back dance track – however, they all pushed the boundaries of convention, celebrated individuality, and influenced popular culture.”
The songs will be inducted to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on November 1st at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, ON during the Legends Series, supported by the RBC Foundation through RBC Emerging Artists. The induction series will celebrate songwriters and song inductions with performances from emerging artists, intermingled with conversations with Inductees in intimate settings. On-stage interviews will be moderated by host Sonia Benezra, who will delve into the stories behind the songs; with performances backed by a house band led by revered Musical Director, Lou Pomanti. Songwriters Darrin O’Brien, Louie Robinson, Richard Rodwell, James Di Salvio and Mark Gane will be in attendance to celebrate their song inductions, along with recently announced songwriters Marc Jordan and John Capek who will be inducted for their catalogue of songs including co-writing Rod Stewart’s Rhythm of My Heart.
The global success of Informer – a massive hit born out of violence, poverty and strife – empowered Darrin O’Brien, aka Snow to turn his life around. The reggae-rap recording Informer is a true-life story that became a No. 1 global hit, detailing the story of Snow’s arrest and incarceration after a fight that turned violent, and him not turning into an “Informer.” O’Brien served several months before being acquitted; during that time, he wrote and sang Informer to entertain his fellow inmates. Having lived in a largely West Indian Toronto neighbourhood, where he absorbed the rhythmic pulse and patois of Jamaican reggae, the unconvention of a Caucasian Canadian rapping in patois, piqued the interest of NY producer MC Shan, who co-wrote and produced the track, with Terri Moltke and Edmond Leary. When Informer started airing on MTV in 1993, it took off to become a worldwide hit, reigning at Billboard’s Hot 100 No. 1 spot for seven consecutive weeks, No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 1 in several European countries, and was No. 1 on The Record chart in Canada. Snow earned a JUNO Award for Best Reggae Recording in 1994, and more than 25 years later, the hit would prove just as popular with new audiences with the Spanish language remake of Con Calma by Daddy Yankee ft. Snow, that won several Billboard Latin Music Awards and has over several billion views and streams.
Drinking in L.A. (1997)
Drinking in L.A. is a ground-breaking recording, born of Montréal’s cultural diversity combined with dance music culture and an ultra-creative, let’s-break-all-the-rules attitude. Co-songwriters, Haig Vartzbedian, Duane Larson, and James Di Salvio are behind the dream-like masterpiece recorded by alt-rock-hip-hop folk collective Bran Van 3000, off their 1997 debut album “Glee.” The recording’s innovative, happily unconventional sound and off-the-cuff spontaneity quickly captivated audiences in North America and Europe with its cross-genre mash-up of pop, folk, hip-hop, electronica, and just about every other style you can name. The unorthodox single reached No. 35 on RPM’s Hot 100 chart, and after its wider release on Capitol Records it became a Top 40 hit in the U.K. and Top 10 in several European countries. Back home in Canada, Bran Van 3000’s “Glee” easily won the 1998 JUNO Award for Best Alternative Album; and the now iconic, low-fi music video for Drinking in L.A. also won a MuchMusic Video Award.
My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style (1991)
My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style redefined the possibilities of the rap genre. Written by Louie Robinson (King Lou) and Richard Rodwell and recorded in 1991 by hip-hop duo Dream Warriors, consisting of Frank Allert (Capital Q) and King Lou, My Definition combined the flavours of hip-hop and American jazz – featuring samples from Quincy Jones’s 1962 instrumental flute-and-horn hit Soul Bossa Nova – to create a cool, magical jazz-rap fusion. Jazz sampling had long been part of the hip-hop scene in New York City, but My Definition was a first in Canada, cleverly juxtaposing the old and the new. The single went gold in Canada, reached No. 13 in the U.K., and went on to sell over 1,000,000 copies worldwide making it a ground-breaking success and popular throughout countries like Europe, Japan and the United States. My Definition won the 1992 JUNO Award for Rap Recording of the Year; and marked a turning point and milestone for Canadian hip-hop’s history as a whole.
Echo Beach (1980)
The greatest songs sometimes come from the strangest circumstances. It was while working (and daydreaming) on the obscure occupation of wallpaper inspector that songwriter Mark Gane had the idea that became the award-winning New Wave song Echo Beach – a song about escaping reality. Gane along with his partner, vocalist Martha Johnson, was a founding member of the popular band Martha and the Muffins, and Echo Beach would be their breakthrough single on their album “Metro Music” released in early 1980 first in the U.K., Europe and Australia and eventually released in Canada. Echo Beach and “Metro Music” both went gold before the end of 1980, culminating in the JUNO Award for Single of the Year in 1981, as well as a nomination for Most Promising Group of the Year in both 1981 and 1982. In the intervening decades, not only has the nostalgic song been covered by various artists, but the term “Echo Beach” has become a phrase used around the globe. Rolling Stone Magazine recently named Martha and the Muffins as one of Canada’s 50 Greatest Artists Of All Time.
For more information, go to www.cshf.ca. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Legends series is supported by the RBC Foundation through RBC Emerging Artists, and sponsored by YouTube Music, SOCAN and CMRRA.