SOCAN Awards to toast 24 people who boosted Canadian content


TORONTO — The late Pierre Elliott Trudeau and famed producer Bob Ezrin, along with 22 others who raised the profile of Canadian-made music, will be toasted at this year’s SOCAN Awards.

The music industry organization unveiled plans to dole out its newly created Guardian Award to a series of longtime champions of Canadian content in late May.

More than half of the “visionaries” will be recognized posthumously, including Kelly Jay Fordham of the band Crowbar, whose 1971 hit “Oh What a Feeling” was the first song to reap the rewards of the Cancon era.

Among the others is the late Pierre Juneau, the first chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, who was instrumental in forming rules that require a certain percentage of radio and TV programming to be at least partly produced in Canada or by Canadians.

Trudeau was prime minister during the birth of Cancon in January 1971, while 72-year-old Ezrin was one of Canada’s most active producers throughout the early days, recording albums with Kiss, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith.

The award comes as SOCAN marks 50 years of Cancon while drumming up support for the future of the Broadcasting Act in an industry increasingly dominated by streaming.

SOCAN interim CEO Jennifer Brown says “the future of Canadian culture is once again in jeopardy as the consumption of streamed Canadian music by Canadians has fallen off a cliff.”

She is urging the Canadian music industry to find common ground with digital platform operators and reach “a solution that works for everyone.”

The Liberal government is pushing for amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would, in part, require streaming platforms to help create and draw attention to the artistic works of Canadians.

The 2021 SOCAN Awards will be handed out throughout the week of May 24 at virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other honourees receiving the Guardian Award include late music producer Jack Richardson, Don DiNovo and Skip Prokop of three-time Juno-winning band Lighthouse.

David Friend, The Canadian Press


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