Women & Songs – Part Two

I don’t listen to the radio much these days…okay….sometimes when I’m driving. What music I do hear is not much to speak of. The rotation of the same songs 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. The commercials send me over the edge!

There’s also Randy Bachman’s CBC radio show Vinyl Tap which offers up classic pop, rock and older jazz along with the backend stories to many of these songs. Good show, but sometimes too nostalgic.

Randy Bachman Vinyl Tap Tour: Every Song Tells A Story

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

What 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. Because we’ve tuned out, much of what we are offered is commercial pap. The grit is gone. Fresh went stale.

….and so I continue to rummage around on the internet, searching YouTube and other sources for some of the many voices that were offered up in this wonderful collection of 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 ‘music for the ears’.

Women & Songs — Highlights

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.

Released 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 Non 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?

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, Shakira, 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 classicallcy 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

Chantal Kreviazuk – Surrounded

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

Natalie Merchant – 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. It became the band’s biggest success.

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

Merchant 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.

Natalie Merchant – Carnival

Her latest album, simply called “Natalie Merchant”, was released in 2014. The lead single “Ladybird” is focussed on a woman who is wondering whether she can “fly away from her domestic life”. 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 Junos, two Geminis, starred in two short films and a musical, published two books of poetry — “Ravens” (2004) and “The Baroness” (2008) — and written two string quartets. Hang on while I catch my breath.

Sarah Slean – Sweet Ones (2002)

A Canadian singer/songwriter, musician, poet, visual artist and occasional actress who hails from Pickering, Ontario, Slean recorded and released her first EP, “Universe” in 1997 at the tender age of 19 followed by “Blue Parade” just a year later in 1998. A further five EPs and  five studio albums followed. Slean’s last two recordings — “Land and Sea” and the EP “String Quartet No. 2” were both released in 2011. “Land and Sea” was also Slean’s first recording released on vinyl.

She also contributed a song, “New Pair of Eyes”, to be included on 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, most recently in New York at the Highline Ballroom. She has a number Canadian dates lined up over the next several months.

Molly Johnson – To quote Wikipedia “Margaret Leslie “Molly” Johnson, OC is a Canadian Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter of pop and jazz.” She’s also a mother of two and philanthropist.

Johnson has been performing since childhood and has earned the reputation as one of Canada’s greatest voices. Lead vocalist for two high-profile bands — Alta Moda in the 80s and Infidels in the 90s — she later performed backup vocals for another popular Toronto band Breeding Ground.

Alta Moda – Julian

Infidels – Celebrate

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

Big Sugar – Diggin’ A Hole

Although well-known for her jazz singing, Johnson did not release her first jazz album until 2000. She has released several albums since then, taking home a Juno — Jazz Album of the Year — in 2008 for  “Lucky”.  Her most recent release “Because of Billie” was in 2014.

Molly Johnson – Rain (filmed in Montreal)

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

In “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 Picture Taker©, 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 music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance….

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