Leonard Norman Cohen, poet, novelist, singer, songwriter (born 21 September 1934 in Montréal, QC; died 7 November 2016 in Los Angeles, California). Leonard Cohen was one of the most iconic Canadian artists of the 20th century. A sage, mystic, bohemian and romantic, he built an acclaimed body of literary work and a revered career in pop music. In his poetry, novels and music, he constantly probed the human condition, exploring themes of love, loss, death and his commitment to his art. As a poetic and unlikely pop star, his narrow-ranged, gruff voice, which deepened and darkened with age, and his reliance on simple, singsong melodies were complimented by the intense imagery and depth of his lyrics. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the US Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Folk Music Walk of Fame. He also received the Glenn Gould Prize, eight Juno Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and numerous other honours.
Beverly Sainte-Marie, OC, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, social activist, philanthropist, visual artist (born 20 February 1941 on Piapot Reserve, SK). A pioneering and influential singer-songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie specializes in love songs and music with a political and social-activist focus. She was an important figure in the Greenwich Village and Toronto folk music revivals in the 1960s, and is perhaps best known for her 1964 anti-war anthem “Universal Soldier,” which was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. She won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Academy Award for co-writing the hit song “Up Where We Belong.” An Officer of the Order of Canada, she has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. She has received the Polaris Music Prize and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, as well as multiple Juno Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.
Bruce Douglas Cockburn, OC, singer, songwriter, guitarist, activist (born 27 May 1945 in Ottawa, ON). Bruce Cockburn is one of Canada’s preeminent singer-songwriters, guitarists and social-justice activists. His music blends folk, rock, pop and jazz, and typically addresses spiritual themes and global issues from a politically charged perspective. He has had 17 albums certified gold in Canada and three certified platinum, and has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. The winner of 11 Juno Awards from 31 nominations, he has also received the inaugural Allan Waters Humanitarian Award and the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award, and been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Recognized as “a latter-day wandering minstrel whose songs reflect the discontents of modern society,” he received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and was made a Member (1982) and Officer (2002) of the Order of Canada.
Wesley Williams (a.k.a. Maestro Fresh Wes, Maestro), rapper, actor, author, motivational speaker (born 31 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). Maestro Fresh Wes is a pioneering hip-hop recording artist, often regarded as the “godfather of Canadian hip hop.” His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum and yielded the hit single “Let Your Backbone Slide,” one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time. Maestro has been nominated for 13 Juno Awards and won two, including the inaugural award for Rap Recording of the Year in 1991. Named No. 1 on CBC Music’s 2013 list of the greatest Canadian rappers, he has diversified his career as a successful actor, author and motivational speaker while remaining a prominent figure in Canadian hip hop.
Angela Jean Elisabeth Watt, lyric soprano (born 13 November 1915 in Brandon, MB; died 4 June 2017 in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England). West Coast lyric soprano Ann Watt enjoyed a high profile singing career in Vancouver in the 1940s. She was perhaps best known for her starring roles with Vancouver’s Theatre Under the Stars and for singing on CBC Radio’s wartime broadcasts. She drew praise for her vivacious and charming performances, her rich and lovely lyric soprano voice and her versatile range. She was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame as a pioneer in 2013.
Ariane Moffatt, singer, songwriter and producer (born 26 April 1979 in Saint Romuald, today Lévis, QC). Ariane Moffatt sets herself apart with her urban pop style songs, whose alternately acoustic and electronic sounds lend them an airy, dreamlike quality. The recipient of numerous Félix Awards, including Revelation of the Year in 2003, she also won a Juno Award in 2009 for her album Tous les sens. That album was well received in France, where the singer has built valuable friendships in the artistic community; it also earned her the Grand Prix of the Académie Charles Cros.
Uuliniq Susan Aglukark, OC, singer, songwriter (born 27 January 1967 in Churchill, MB). Susan Aglukark is a Juno Award-winning Inuk singer and songwriter. Her blend of country, world music and easy-listening pop is distinguished by her gentle voice, upbeat melodies and inspirational lyrics sung in English and Inuktitut. Her album This Child (1995) sold more than 300,000 copies in Canada and the lead single, “O Siem,” became the first Top 10 hit by an Inuk performer. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her “powerful songs that relate the stories of Canada’s Inuit” and for her advocacy for the people and communities of Canada’s North. She has also mentored Indigenous artists and students, and received a Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2016.
Alanis Obomsawin, OC, GOQ, filmmaker, singer, artist, storyteller (born 31 August 1932 near Lebanon, New Hampshire). One of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin began her career as a professional singer and storyteller before joining the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in 1967. Her award-winning films address the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Canada from their perspective, giving prominence to voices that have long fallen on deaf ears. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec, she has received the Prix Albert-Tessier and the Canadian Screen Awards’ Humanitarian Award, as well as multiple Governor General’s Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.
Isadore Borsuk (a.k.a. Bobby Breen), actor, singer (born 4 November 1928 in Montréal, QC; died 19 September 2016 in Pompano Beach, Florida). Boy soprano Bobby Breen was one of Hollywood’s most popular child stars of the 1930s. His cherubic appearance, angelic voice and innocent personality earned him a reputation as “the boy Shirley Temple.” After his Hollywood career ended at age 12, he spent his adult years performing in nightclubs, playing piano and running a talent agency. His cult status was secured when his picture was included on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).
Shadrach Kabango (a.k.a. Shad, Shad K.), rapper, singer, songwriter, radio host (born 18 July 1982 in Kenya). Witty, passionate and earnest, Shad is a Juno Award-winning rapper known for his sharp, socially conscious lyrics. His playful musical style blends rap and hip-hop with rock, R&B and other genres. In 2008 and 2010, the National Post named him the best rapper in Canada, and in 2013 CBC Music ranked him No. 2 in their list of the 25 Greatest Canadian Rappers Ever. Paste magazine hailed him in 2013 as “Canada’s most talented, genuine musical artist and one of the industry’s finest poets.” Shad has been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize three times (2008, 2010, 2014) and hosted CBC Radio One’s flagship talk show q from April 2015 to August 2016.
Marie-Mai Bouchard, auteure, compositrice, interprète (née le 7 juillet 1984, à Varennes, Québec). Elle enivre la génération actuelle de sa musique aux notes rock, électro et pop et de sa voix d’une riche authenticité. Sur scène, cette artiste polyvalente sait transmettre toute sa fougue et son énergie au public. Récipiendaire de nombreux prix Félix, incluant celui de l’Interprète féminine et de l’Album de l’année, Marie-Mai a reçu trois disques d’or et deux disques platine pour la vente de ses albums au Canada. Elle s’est produite sur les plus grandes scènes du monde francophone et s’est distinguée à l’échelle canadienne en remportant plusieurs Prix de la chanson SOCAN, pour la Chanson populaire de l’année et à titre d’Auteur-compositeur de l’année.