OCT 27, 2023
James Gordon has been there. He’s done that. He has had a remarkably diverse and resilient career in the Canadian cultural sector. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the ground-breaking trio Tamarack, he’s recorded 40 albums and toured relentlessly around the world. He’s written for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance works, scored films, and for more than ten years was heard on CBC radio as songwriter-in-residence for the ’Basic Black’ and ‘Ontario Morning’ programs. Between tours, James is a record producer, playwright, community activist, theatre director and currently has a part-time ‘side hustle’ as a Guelph City Councillor. These days he’s perhaps known as the composer of the viral internet hit “Crybabies Caravan”, about the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Ottawa. It’s received more than 300,000 views and stimulated a lot of inspiring discussion.
His songwriting-in-the-schools program “Rhyme Capsules” has brought him all over the world, creating songs with students of all ages, and it earned him a place of honour on the “Wall of Fame” in Guelph’s Youth Music Centre. His song ’Mining For Gold’ was featured in the John Sayles film ‘Silver City’, and was included on the classic Cowboy Junkies album ‘The Trinity Sessions’. Gordon’s iconic ‘Frobisher Bay’ has been recorded by more than 100 different acts world-wide, has become a standard in choirs everywhere, and is in ‘Rise Again’, the sequel to the legendary ‘Rise Up Singing’ songbook. Well known for his songs about social justice, heritage and environmental issues, he recently concluded a covid-safe virtual tour of his 6th full-length play ‘James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical’.
His last album, ‘The Heritage Hall Sessions’ on Borealis Records charted internationally in the roots, singer-songwriter, and Americana categories. His newest album “When I Stayed Home” is just out, as is his unique ‘musical novel’ “The Ark Of The Oven Mitt” which includes a downloadable recording of 36 original songs that move the plot along. The book is a finalist in the Stephen Leacock Humour Medal competition, with the winner chosen in September.
Acoustic roots with catchy melodies, arresting vocals, great guitar playing, lyrics that get you and that you get - these are all things that have been written over and over again about Katherine Wheatley’s music. She sings truth, bravely, and in detail. Like Shawn Colvin, Edie Brickell and Joni Mitchell, Wheatley mines heartache and produces lyrical and melodic gold. And like one of her earliest influences, Gordon Lightfoot, she invokes nature to reflect the emotional intent of her songs.
Katherine’s passion for music began with a 13 dollar guitar ordered from the Sears Catalogue. Her debut performance was with the Parry Sound High School Stage Band at the Bobby Orr Community Centre singing "Rhinestone Cowboy". She worked for the Canadian Geological Survey out of Flin Flon, MB before putting down the hammer and digging out her guitar. A humble and hardworking musician, she's come a long way since Ian Tyson told her to “LEARN YOUR ROOTS!” after opening for him in 1994.
Katherine won the Duke Ellington Award for arranging, the Gordon Delamont Award for Composition and the CMPA award for songwriting at Humber College. Her song "Hallelujah" won a Golden Quill award and was selected, along with "Some Sweet Country" for the new Rise Again songbook (30th anniversary publication of Rise Up). Her solo show in Charlottetown was awarded "Performance of the Year” 2010 by the Guardian. She's been on Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe, TVO's Studio Two, CBC's Vicki Gabareau Show and CTV's Canada AM and has written music for film and television documentaries.
In addition to touring across Canada, the U.S. and Europe as a solo singer/songwriter, Katherine is a member of the Toronto super group "Betty and The Bobs", plays regularly in the hilarious and moving duo "Wendell and Wheat" (where "she doesn't leave a dry eye and he doesn't leave a dry seat") and tours every winter with Tannis Slimmon and Angie Nussey in the trio "Boreal". Katherine is in high demand for her innovative songwriting and music workshops. She's written and recorded over 200 songs with kids through her Youthsongs program and has produced over 30 CDs with schools across North America. She works as a singer and zodiac driver on board the ship The MS Expedition as it plies the seas of Antarctica and the Norwegian Arctic