Pat Blythe – Women & Songs — Part Two

PBlythe

Radio – Same Ol’ Same Ol’

I don’t listen to the radio much these days…okay….sometimes when I’m driving but that’s mostly for road and weather reports. Music….not so much. What music I do hear is the rotation of the same songs or the same tired formula over and over and over…. I will admit I tune into Q107 but that’s more for the DJ banter and the stories than the music. ….and the commercials, on any station,  send me over the edge!

Then there’s programs like Randy Bachman’s CBC radio show Vinyl Tap which offers up classic pop, rock and older jazz along with the backend stories (which I love) to many of these songs. Excellent show, but sometimes too  focused on nostalgia.

Randy Bachman Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story

I’m looking for new…latest…up-to-the-minute…current….novel….

I have over 700 songs stored in my sometimes “not so smart” phone and — when connected with my Bluetooth speaker — press shuffle and listen to all the tunes I love, a mix of new and old, commercial free.

Radio DJWhat I’m getting at is this, we all used to live and die by the radio. Every last note was broadcast through those tiny speakers, new music pouring into our willing ears, bathing our minds in melodies, introducing us, almost daily, to new voices, new sounds and new compositions. Radio doesn’t appear to be “doing its job” these days and not many folks are listening in. We’ve tuned out because much of what we are offered is commercial-grade pap. The grit is gone. Fresh went stale.

I’ve been heading out to the various clubs these days looking for good, original, live music….contemporary music you don’t hear on the radio but is packing in the various venues with  ears that  appreciate it and bodies that move to it.

Radio pic….and yes, I continue to rummage around on the internet, searching for some of the many voices that were offered up in this wonderful collection of women and songs. I haven’t heard these ladies on the radio, or anywhere else in….forever….. and I am discovering many of them continue to produce innovative, new ‘music for the ears’.

Women & Songs — Briefly

Women & Songs — a compilation of tracks by female artists — is a succession of albums released over an eleven year period. The first album, simply titled Women & Songs, was issued in  December 9, 1997. The final album, Women & Songs 12, was released in 2008 with a total of 17 albums completing the collection.

Women_&_Songs_6Released in January 2009, Women & Songs 6 was the biggest album in terms of the number of tracks — 21 in total. Women & Songs 8 was released in November 2004, as a special two-disc set. The second disc was a special DVD that included six songs  with performances by k.d lang, Alannah Miles, Nina Gordon, Sinead O’Connor, Natalie Merchant and Sixpence None The RicherWomen & Songs 10 was titled The 10th Anniversary Collection and country group The Wreckers made their Women & Songs debut.

Special releases included Women & Songs Beginnings, Beginnings 2, 60’s Girl Groups, The 80s and Women & Songs Christmas.

MIA? I Think Not

Chantal head shot

Chantal Kreviazuk – This is one lady is who is keeping very busy. Although she has not released a studio album since 2009, (a live album was released in 2012) Kreviazuk is a versatile writer, covering a wide range of genres penning hit songs for/with a number of performers including Drake, Avril Lavigne, Chantal and pianoShakira, Jennifer Lopez, Josh Grogan, Pitbull and Gwen Stefani….the list goes on.

Recently Kreviazuk was surprised to be asked to appear on SNL with Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. The song they  performed was “Pay For It”, a tune she had written and discarded. Lamar pulled it out of Kreviazuk’s “creative dumpster” and collaborated with her — together they reworked the song which was released in October 2014 as the first single (featuring Lamar) on Jay Rock’s second album.

Jay Rock – Pay For It (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

A classically trained pianist, sometimes guitar player and award winning artist, Kreviazuk unveiled her latest single “I Will Be” immediately following her SNL appearance. According to Kreviazuk, it’s her favourite song since writing “Surrounded” almost 20 years ago.

Chantal Kreviazuk – I Will Be

In 1997, “Surrounded” was the fourth single to be released from her first album “Under These Rocks and Stones”. The song became her first major Canadian hit and Kreviazuk was nominated for a Juno in the new Best New Artist category.

Chantal Kreviazuk – Surrounded

In recognition for their charitable and humanitarian work both Kreviazuk and her husband, Raine Maida, were appointed members of the Order of Canada in December 2014. Keepin’ on keepin’ on.

Natalie Merchant

10000+Maniacs

Best known as the lead singer and lyricist for 10,000 Maniacs from 1981 to 1993, her last recording with the band was a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Because the Night” for an MTV Unplugged performance. Ironically, it became the band’s biggest success.

10,000 Maniacs – Because the Night (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Natalie MMerchant went on to enjoy a solo career, producing a total of six albums over a 19-year period. Her first solo effort, “Tiger Lily”, was issued in 1995 and sold over five million copies generating her first top ten hit “Carnival”. This was quickly followed by two more hit singles “Wonder” and “Jealousy”. It is her most successful solo album to date.

The Lady has still got it! These next two are smooth, relaxing with a great beat.

Natalie Merchant – Carnival

Natalie Merchant – Jealousy

Her latest album, simply called “Natalie Merchant”, was released in 2014. The lead single “Ladybird” spotlights a woman who is wondering whether she can “fly away from her domestic life”, something many of us can relate to. Merchant continues to write, sing and perform live. Her last tour was in 2014 to promote her self-titled album.

Natalie Merchant – Ladybird

Sarah Slean – Over the last 15 years, Slean has been nominated for three Juno and two Gemini awards, starred in two short films and a musical, published two books of poetry — “Ravens” (2004) and “The Baroness” (2008) — written two string quartets, held several exhibitions of her paintings AND shared the stage with five of Canada’s leading orchestras. Hang on while Sarah SI catch my breath.

Often referred to as a “Renaissance woman”, Slean  is a singer/songwriter, musician, poet, visual artist and occasional actress who hails from Pickering, Ontario. She recorded and released her first EP, “Universe”, in 1997 at the tender age of 19. “Universe” was quickly followed by “Blue Parade” just a year later in. A further five EPs and five studio albums followed. Slean’s music has also been featured on shows such Dawson’s Creek, Felicity and Party of Five.

“Sweet Ones”, a hit from her 2002 album “Night Bugs”, was covered twice on Canadian Idol and was her first hit single.

Sarah Slean – Sweet Ones (2002)

The focus for the album “Day One” was less on the piano and more on the beats, rhythms and guitar.

Sarah Slean – Lucky Me

Slean’s most recent recordings — “Land and Sea”, which includes four original scores for 21-piece string orchestra, and the EP “String Quartet No. 2” — were both released in 2011. “Land and Sea” was also Slean’s first album released on vinyl.

Slean chose “New Pair of Eyes”, a cut from “Land and Sea”, to be included in a compilation album “Songs of Love for Japan”. Available for three days only, all the proceeds went towards the relief efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake.

Sarah Slean – A New Pair of Eyes

Slean continues to tour and perform and has a number of Canadian appearances lined up over the next several months including the Art of Time Ensemble tribute to Lou Reed in Toronto, February 27, and a date with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra in St. Catherines in a May.

Molly Johnson

MJ promotional-photo

Singer, songwriter, broadcaster, philanthropist, Johnson has been performing since childhood, earning her the reputation as one of Canada’s greatest voices, honing her particular style of jazz singing over the years.

Lead vocalist for two high-profile bands — Alta Moda in the 80s and Infidels in the 90s — she was referred to as the “Diva of Queen Street” during her tenure with Alta Moda.

Alta Moda – Julian

Infidels – Celebrate

Johnson later sang with a group of backing musicians who became famous in their own right as Big Sugar. She also made history at the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival as the first Canadian female vocalist to sell out a show on the main stage.

Big Sugar – Diggin’ A Hole

Well-known for her jazz singing, Johnson finally released her first jazz album in 2000. The self-titled jazz/pop album, “Molly Johnson”, was a collaboration Mollywith Toronto-based writer Steven MacKinnon and pays homage to the early years of jazz. The album was hugely popular in France thanks to a guest appearance on the record by French jazz legend Stephane Grappelli, helping to boost international attention. Johnson has retained a very strong fan base in France where she continues to tour regularly.

This number is a great dance tune….smooth….slide and swing your hips across the dance floor…. solo or with your partner.

Molly Johnson – My Oh My

She has released several albums since 2000, taking home a Juno for Jazz Album of the Year in 2008 for “Lucky”.  I love the sound of the stand-up bass in the title song. In my mind’s eye I can see Fred Astaire in top hat and tails, tapping and gliding his way across the stage.

Molly Johnson – Lucky

Molly Johnson_Because of BillieJohnson’s most recent production is the album, Because of Billie, released in September, 2014. This is what she had to say about Billie Holiday, Billie Holiday’s journey inspires (me) not only as an artist, but as a model citizen. Billie and her generation were the civil rights movement ….Her generation sacrificed for my privilege and I am honour-bound to them. I love history. I love to look back while pushing forward.”.

Molly Johnson – Body and Soul (live in Paris)

I simply love this song and the fact it was filmed in Montreal, one of my favourite cities.

Molly Johnson – Rain

Philanthropy is also part of Johnson’s credo. She is responsible for organizing the Kumbaya Festival concert series which benefited Canadian charities working around HIV and AIDS. She has helped to raise over $1 million for people living with HIV/AIDS. Johnson is donating a portion of the sales of “Because of Billie” to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

….and the beat goes on….

There are numerous artists who contributed to the Women & Songs collection, too many to highlight in a couple of articles. I salute every single one of them — their gifts to us are their passion, their voices and their songs. The opportunity to share my re-discovery of this wonderful compilation has been my great pleasure and I encourage you to discover the rest for yourselves.

Cheers!

Sources include Wikipedia, Entertainment Weekly, MTV.com, various biographies, Rolling Stone Magazine ,Melissa Myers (Chantal), CBC, my mind, and the ubiquitous YouTube.

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance….

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