Did you know Stompin' Tom Connors kickstarted Liona Boyd's career?
Love for Stompin' Tom Connors went beyond Canada's borders
Jane Stevenson QMI Agency March 07, 2013
Canadians weren't the only ones who loved Stompin' Tom Connors.
His influence went well beyond our borders. Consider the popularity of Connors' The Hockey Song in both Canada and the U.S.
"People know who he is," said Deane Cameron, the former president of EMI Music Canada. "Not just Canada. A lot of American artists would come and visit and go, 'Who's this Stompin' Tom guy?"
One Canadian artist who was definitely passionate about him was k.d. lang, who Connors would write the song, Lady k.d. lang, about.
But not many people can actually say Stompin' Tom was singlehandedly responsible for their music career.
British-born Canadian-based classical guitarist Liona Boyd can.
"He basically launched my career," said Boyd from her part-time Palm Beach home.
Stompin' Tom created Boot Records, Canada's first classical music label
, and signed Boyd to it for her first record, 1974's The Guitar and two more. She remained there for three years.
"It was Tom's vision obviously. And as I understood it, he wasn't really a fan of classical music but he had heard Canada had no classical label, which was absolutely true. So bless him, he went and decided he'd be the first one. And he signed myself and the Canadian Brass. It's like me deciding, 'Well listen, maybe I don't know much about rap, but hey Canada's doesn't have a rap label, I'll go and do it.' So he was a bit of a pioneer with classical music.'"
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Now, almost forty years later, Boyd feels she's carrying the Canadian torch passed by the patriotic Connors with her upcoming album, The Return... To Canada With Love.
"It's actually fourteen songs all inspired by Canada," said Boyd, who lives in Toronto. "I have songs like Home To The Shores of Lake Ontario and I have one that has a whole cast of characters, it's called Canada My Canada, but it's got everybody from Jann Arden to John McDermott, to Dan Hill, I have 20 well-known singers all singing with me. God, he would have loved to hear this record. It's too bad I couldn't have let Tom hear that. He's probably looking down, smiling and thinking, 'Yes, Liona, you took up the torch.'"
Another lasting testament to Connors' place in the music industry - he infamously returned his six Junos in 1978 to protest what he called Americanization of the awards - comes this weekend in Halifax during the East Coast Music Awards. The Stompin' Tom Award will be handed out to four individuals on Saturday. Since 1996, 86 people have received the award.