In 1991, the Violent Femmes asked, "do you like American music?" But what about Canadian music?
As opposed to the so-called "British invasion" of the 1960s and subsequent decades, one doesn't often hear about Canadian music, specifically. In the U.S. there is a Bloomington, Ind.-based record label called Secretly Canadian. Could the name be an homage to our talented neighbors to the north? And with our cultures so close in proximity to each other, did you even know the following artists were from Canada?
FeistThirty-two year old Nova Scotia native Leslie Feist debuted in the U.S. with her 2005 album "Let It Die," but it wasn't until the spring of 2007 that she gained mega-exposure with her hit "1234." Apple used the song's video in an iPod Nano commercial, and thereafter, the song went to No. 8 on the top ten list, predominantly on the strength of downloaded purchases on the Internet.
In April 2008, Feist was awarded five Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy, in the following categories: songwriter, artist, pop album, album and single of the year. Her music has been described as "swoony indie lounge pop" by Rolling Stone, and the New York Times referred to her as "a restless polymath with a catalog of great songs and a voice like carved steam."
Her genres span from punk to folk. Not content to stick to one genre, Feist often performs with Canadian "supergroup" Broken Social Scene, a Toronto-based, 19-member group, most of whom also have their own bands. And on Aug. 11, she'll perform on Sesame Street's 39th season premiere, where she'll tweak the lyrics of "1234" for her younger audience. "One, two, three, four, monsters walking across the floor," is a preview of what you can expect from that performance.
Feist will perform a free concert in New York City's Bryant Park this Friday, July 25. For complete coverage of her performance and for a list of other upcoming shows, Click Here.
RushThis rock group formed in Toronto in 1968 and broke onto the American music scene in 1974 with their self-titled debut album, and, 40 years later, they're still rocking. Members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, who are on tour this summer with their 2007 release, "Snakes and Arrows," have amassed 24 gold and 14 platinum albums in their career, including the 1981 quadruple-platinum "Moving Pictures." In a July 2008 appearance on "The Colbert Report," where they played what many people consider their defining song, "Tom Sawyer," Colbert noted that it was Rush's first appearance on American television in 33 years.
Bryan AdamsThis 49-year-old Canadian idol recently made an appearance on "American Idol's" 2008 season finale, singing a medley of his hits with the six male finalists. His songs range from the rockin' "Summer of 69" to the more heart-felt ballad "Everything I Do," from the 1991 Kevin Costner film, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." Born in Kingston, Ontario, and settling in Vancouver during high school, Adams quit school when he was 15 to play in bands. He broke through with the album "Cuts Like a Knife," in 1983, and has been cranking out music ever since, with hits such as "Heaven," "Run to You," and "It's Only Love," with Tina Turner.
Not content with just music, Adams has also blossomed into a professional photographer. He has shot ads for Guess clothing, and his photos have appeared in British and Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar and Interview. In 1990, Adams received the Order of British Columbia for his artistic and philanthropic contributions made over the course of his life.
Alanis Morissette"You Oughta Know" this musician's from Ottawa. Morissette, 34, who began playing piano at six, songwriting at nine and making TV appearances at 11 on the Canadian children's program "You Can't Do That on Television," came down to the U.S. to appear on the talent show "Star Search."
Although she didn't win the competition, Morissette forcefully returned to the U.S. in 1995 with the release of her second album "Jagged Little Pill." The album skyrocketed up the chart with hits, including "You Oughta Know," "Ironic," "Head Over Feet," and "Hand in My Pocket." The album became the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S. Although Morissette became an American citizen in 2005, she kept her Canadian citizenship, saying in a statement at the time, "I will never renounce my Canadian citizenship. I consider myself a Canadian-American."
Arcade FireOK, well, perhaps you might consider them half-Canadian. Although this indie band's first incarnation took place at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in the late 90s, it's current lineup developed in 2003 when Win Butler, a Texan from Houston, who had attended Phillips Academy, met Québecoise Régine Chassagne at McGill University in Montreal. Totally different in their musical backgrounds -- Butler from rock and Chassagne from jazz and classical -- the two married their styles, and later, each other, to form Arcade Fire.
The band's 2004 album "Funeral" was nominated for a 2006 Grammy, and their follow-up album "Neon Bible" won a 2008 Juno Award for alternative album of the year. This band's been hailed by musical greats, such as David Bowie, David Byrne and U2 for its innovative style and synthesis of intstruments. A rock band that incorporates viola as well as hurdy gurdy? Why not!
Avril LavigneBorn in 1984, this Belleville, Ontario, native broke onto the U.S. music scene when she was only 17 years old with her 2002 debut album, "Let Go." Since then, Lavigne, whose name means "April Vineyard" in French, has been named No. 7 on Forbes' list of Top 20 Earners Under 25, with annual earnings of $12 million.
When she was just 13, Lavigne won a radio contest to appear on stage with Shania Twain, another artist from the north, during Twain's concert in Ottawa. The two performed Twain's song, "What Made You Say That." And, although Lavigne was discovered singing country music covers in an Ontario bookstore, with her own music, she's been nothing but rock, pop and punk. She's had 11 top ten hits to date, including, "Girlfriend," "Complicated," "I'm With You," and "My Happy Ending." In 2006, Lavigne had her own happy ending, marrying her "Sk8er Boi" fellow Canadian musician, Deryck Whibley of the band Sum 41.
Shania TwainNot to be outdone by Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain performed when she was 13 on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp's "Tommy Hunter Show," a Canadian country music show. Born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1965, Twain later changed her name from Eilleen Twain to Shania, an Ojibwa word, meaning "on my way." And she certainly was. This country singer, who began to perform in bars when she was 8 years old, to make money for her impoverished family, is now the second-best-selling musical artist in Canada, behind Celine Dion. And Americans like her, as well. From the 65 million albums the singer of "You're Still the One" has sold, 48 million of those sales have been to the American market.
Céline DionThis French-Canadian from Charlemagne, Quebec, broke through the English-speaking market with her 1990 song, "Where Does My Heart Beat Now." Reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, Dion repeated her chart-topping performance with a duet from the 1991 Disney film "Beauty and the Beast." The song, on which Dion collaborated with male vocalist Peabo Bryson, won an Academy Award for best song and a Grammy Award for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. To date, the superstar chanteuse has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, which makes her the best-selling female artist in the world.
Joni MitchellBorn Roberta Joan Anderson, this Fort Macleod, Alberta, native wrote her first song, "Day By Day," in transit to a folk festival. After marrying fellow folk singer, Chuck Mitchell, in 1965, she moved to the U.S., but their marriage dissolved and Joni moved to New York City in 1967. She was only in the iconic New York folk scene of the 1960s for a short period of time before the West Coast called to her. She moved to Southern California toward the end of 1967 with fellow artist David Crosby, who had been impressed by Mitchell's performance in a Florida club. She toured with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and received the 1969 Grammy for best folk performance for her album,"Clouds." To date, Mitchell has earned nine Grammys, and in 2003, she came in 72nd on Rolling Stone's greatest-guitarists-of-all-time list. The highest-ranking woman on the list, she's noted for using a unique and complex variety of tunings.
Neil YoungSix might be too great for degrees of Canadian separation. Joni Mitchell met fellow Canadian (from Toronto), Neil Young, when both musicians were involved in the Winnepeg club scene. In their early 20s, Young had written the somewhat despondent "Sugar Mountain," to which Mitchell responded with "The Circle Game," in which she sought to bring hope to lost youth. And just as Mitchell has her own singular guitar-playing style, Young is noted for his signature nasally vocals.
Young moved to California in the mid-60s, where he formed the short-lived band Buffalo Springfield, before settling into a solo and group career with Crazy Horse and David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash. With songs, such as "Ohio," "Southern Man" and "Alabama," Young proves that, although he may be Canadian, American culture informs many of his lyrics. In a 2005 interview with Time magazine, Young said, "I guess I could be a dual citizen, but if I ever had to give up my Canadian citizenship to become American, I wouldn't do it, because I wouldn't want to hurt Canada. I love Canada. As I get older, more and more I start singing about Canada."