Music to Your Ears

Oscar-worthy talent, state-of-the-art venues, and internationally acclaimed awards shows take place here in London – and it’s just getting started.

As the largest cultural event in Canada, hosting the JUNOS is a testament to the growth of London’s music industry. This event will both celebrate Canadian music and showcase London’s emerging music scene.In addition, attracting the Canadian Country Music Awards (2016) and the Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAOntario) Awards two years in a row (2017-18), which had country stars Tim Hicks and Meghan Patrick in attendance, has helped to shine a light on the incredible local talent that both London and Ontario have to offer.

This is an excerpt from LEDC’s new London Magazine. To read more about London’s music scene, order your free copy using the ‘Order Free Magazine’ button on any LEDC web page.

London’s Music History
With countless opportunities to offer, exploring creative potential, showcasing talent and putting theory to practice are just a few ways London’s creative community is strengthening the music sector.

“At the 2017 JUNOS, three of five nominees for Engineer of the Year were London educated. We’re a training hub – it’s clear that there’s no city in Canada that’s producing like London,” shares Crossman.From sell-out performances at one of our world-class venues, to hosting internationally-acclaimed awards shows, London is a music city. Here are some of London’s many musical milestones over the years:

  • 1902 – Born in London and best known for his New Year’s Eve performances, Guy Lombardo is considered one of the most successful musicians in Canadian history, who went on to sell between 100-300 million records with his band, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians, during their lifetime. Lombardo played in London’s former Century Theatre, which is now home to the growing tech firm Mobials, among others.
  • 1937 – Orchestra London Canada, a professional Canadian symphony orchestra based in London, founded by conductor and violinist Bruce Sharpe. While no longer operating as Orchestra London, the musicians continued to put on self-produced concerts within the London community and now operate under the name of London Symphonia, with 27+ musicians and a concertmaster.
  • 1960 – Born and raised in London in 1937, Canadian country music performer Thomas James “Tommy” Hunter began performing as a rhythm guitarist on the CBC Television show, Country Hoedown. The Tommy Hunter Show first aired on CBC radio in 1960 and musicians Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and Alanis Morissette performed on his show. Known as Canada’s Country Gentleman, Tommy Hunter was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984. Next time you’re driving around London, look for the street Tommy Hunter Way and recall his London roots.
  • 1965 – Canadian noise band The Nihilist Spasm Band formed in London in 1965. As the name alludes, the term “spasm band” refers to a band that uses homemade instruments, and much of the band improvised their tempos and time signatures on the spot. This influential group is still recognized in the global Jazz scene today.
  • 1968 – The Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University is formed, and the faculty is now one of the largest faculty’s in the country, with approximately 650 undergraduate and graduate students.

The Talbot Theatre at Western University's Don Wright Faculty of Music in the 1970's. Photo credit: Don Wright Faculty of Music Facebook page.

  • 1968 – Johnny Cash and June Carter get engaged after Cash proposes to June during a live performance in London, Ontario.
  • 1970 – As first school of its kind in Canada, the Music Industry Arts Program at Fanshawe College is one of the first three in the world to train young people for careers in the contemporary music industry. Notable alumni include Emm Gryner, Les Stroud, Deric Ruttan, and Trevor Morris.
  • 1982 – Acclaimed hip-hopper Shad was born in Kenya and moved to London when he was 11 months old. His album TSOL - thought by some to stand for 'The Sound of London" - won a JUNO in 2011, besting superstar Drake who was among other nominees for Rap Recording of the Year. He hosted Q on CBC Radio One from 2015-2016 and hosts the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series Hip-Hop Evolution.
  • 1983 – Ontario Institute for Audio Recording Technology (OIART) is founded, which trains audio engineers for a variety of careers in music production, recording arts, and sound recording. Their network of over 1,100 notable alumni include Paul Gosse, David Ciccarelli, Rob Bakker, and Hayley Henrikson. Many OIART grads have worked with world-renowned artists including Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, The Tragically Hip, The Guess Who, and Serena Ryder to name a few.
  • 1983 – Live original music has been playing loud in London at legendary venues like Call the Office. Since 1983, this iconic venue hosted everything from Radiohead, Blue Rodeo, and Nelly Furtado to the Tragically Hip. London is also home to Budweiser Gardens - the largest sports-entertainment centre in southwestern Ontario that has held concerts by Cher, Ed Sheeran, and Elton John – as well as Aeolian Hall, the London Music Hall, the London Music Club, and numerous live music venues. London has approximately 55 live music venues.
  • 1985 – The late legendary Canadian record producer Jack Richardson becomes the audio production instructor for Fanshawe College's Music and Industry Arts program. Having moved to London from Toronto, he shaped the careers of hundreds of music industry creators, including producing hits with the Guess Who, Alice Cooper, and Bob Seger. In 2003, Richardson was awarded the Order of Canada.

Jack Richardson (right) at Nimbus 9 in 1974/75 with one-time Guess Who guitarist, Domenic Troiano (left). Photo credit: National Music Centre (nmc.ca).

  • 1985 – The Amabile Choirs of London, Canada forms as a non-profit organization that brings together young singers from London and surrounding areas. This family of choirs began in 1985 with John Barron and Brenda Zadorsky founding the Amabile Youth Singers, and has since grown to nine choirs: four girls and women, four boys and men, and one chamber choir.
  • 1994 – Now one of the largest festivals in Canada, TD Sunfest first started in London in 1994. An annual Canadian festival of food, culture, art and music, Sunfest takes place in Victoria Park every July and draws more than 250,000 visitors. With an increasing guest count year-over-year, Sunfest founder Alfredo Caxaj may look to expand further downtown in 2019.
  • 1996 – Canadian heavy metal band KiTTie launches in London and has since released six studio albums. Two of the band members are sisters from Byron – singer and guitarist Morgan Lander and drummer Mercedes Lander. As part of the band's 20th anniversary in 201, fellow Londoner and award-winning director Rob McCallum released a documentary exploring KiTTie's global success, called Kittie: Origins/Evolutions.
  • 2002 – Manufacturer Quantum5X Systems Inc. is started in London, creating advanced wireless microphone systems used in sports, theatre, news programs, film, and television. The company has developed the world’s only fully integrated and RCAS enabled TapShoeMic as used by Radio City Music Hall’s famous Rockettes.
  • 2003 – Local business 787 Networks begins bringing music to the masses in 2003. 787 creates entertainment experiences with music, video, and messaging that are customized for bars, restaurants, and family entertainment centres.
  • 2004 – Husband and wife duo David and Stephanie Ciccarelli started their company Voices.com, the world’s number one source for voice over talent. They’ve grown their business to over 500,000 registered users serving 160 countries and 100+ languages.
  • 2005 – London launches its own music awards, called the Jack Richardson Music Awards. Each year, musicians and groups are honored and inducted into the Music Hall of Fame, which includes past inductees such as Joey Hollingsworth, Don Wright, Denise Pelley, and Garth Hudson. The awards now operated under the name of the Forest City London Music Awards.
  • 2008 - To honour some of the outstanding alumni at Western University's Don Wright Faculty of Music, a Wall of Fame was launched in 2008. Notable inductees include composer Stephan Moccio, opera singer Adrianne Pieczonka, composer Berthold Carrière, and playwright Tomson Highway
  • 2012 – While studying at Western University, Joe Depace and Andrew Fedyk form the production and DJ group Loud Luxury. The duo’s 2017 song Body was a top 10 hit globally – and the pair is set to perform at the 2019 JUNOs here in London.
  • 2015 – Kitchener-Waterloo native Cory Crossman was hired as London’s first music industry development officer in 2015 to help create London as the musical destination of the region. A London Music Office portal was established following Cory’s arrival to provide a platform for music news, events, and resources. London was one of the first cities to hire a Music Officer.
  • 2016 – Canadian country music’s biggest night, the CCMA Awards Show, came to London for the first time in 2016. At the time, this was the largest entertainment event the city had ever hosted. The CMAOntario Awards show was hosted in London two years in a row afterwards in 2017-18.
  • 2017 – Former Londoner and singer-songwriter Lido Pimienta took home the 2017 Polaris Prize for her 2016 album, La Papessa. Pimienta was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, before moving to London in 2006 with her mother and attending Beal secondary school’s renowned art program.
  • 2019 – Even though it’s not quite here yet, Londoners have been gearing up for the 2019 JUNOs on March 17 since it was announced in 2018.

You can also view the milestones in this interactive timeline tool:

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