Monthly Archives: January 2011

Celebrating Canadian Entertainer Phyllis Marshall

Sher St. Kitts

By: Sher St Kitts

February is black history month and to celebrate we’re starting a campaign to induct Phyllis Marshall into the Canada Walk of Fame!

If you haven’t heard about Phyllis and her contribution to the arts here is a snapshot of her life:

Phyllis Marshall (1921-1996)

Phyllis Irene Elizabeth Marshall. Phyllis was born in Barrie, Ontario, November 4, 1921, The Marshall’s moved to Toronto where Phyllis grew up.  While still a teenager attending Runnymede Collegiate she was a young track star with sights on representing Canada in the 1940s Olympics which were canceled. At 15 she began her singing career with her debut on radio station CRCT. She performed with Jack Arthur and Percy Faith. She performed in Toronto’s various night clubs, including the Silver Slipper in 1938. During the 1940s she performed with many Toronto dance bands including 18 month engagement at the Park Plaza Hotel 1943-44 with her own trio. She was first approached by Fats Waller to tour with him – she was too young, but later she joined Cab Calloway’s Orchestra & toured with him in 1947-48. By 1949 she was on CBC radio’s ‘Blues for Friday’. When CBC TV first started she was a part of ‘The Big Revue’ 1952-4, and later ‘Cross-Canada Hit Parade’ 1956-9 and many other shows. In 1959 she was featured on the BBC with her own special ‘The Phyllis Marshall Special’. Over the years she performed with jazz notables such as Oscar Peterson and Bert Niosi.  She was our first Canadian Black Female TV Star.  She performed at the CNE in 1957 with Bob Hope. In 1964 she released an ‘LP’ for Columbia Records called ‘That Girl’ with such jazz stars Buck Clayton and Buddy Tate, winning an award by the precursors to the Canadian Junos.

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Where are they now? Our grant recipients continue to impress!

Jennifer Curtis, YRAC Arts Administrator

By: Jennifer Curtis  

Last fall the York Region Arts Council gave out its first round of grants to local artists. Our recipients came from a range of art genres, including filmmaking, visual art, music and theatre.

Since the grants were awarded we’ve kept in touch with the winners, and have been excited to see them continue to grow the arts in York Region.

One of the youngest recipients was Christopher Dallo, a classical opera singer. Since winning the grant he has been in the news, going onto collaborate with several established producers and professional songwriters, on the January 2010 CBC Network The Passionate Eye, which featured a documentary called The 40 Year Secret. In this documentary, Christopher co-wrote, co-produced and performed the theme song My First True Love. 

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A Tale of Two Houses

John McIntyre

By: John McIntyre

Two very different houses on Leslie Street, south of Wellington in Aurora, come to mind as symbols of some of the pitfalls and some of the potential for historic preservation here in York Region. Ours is one of the fastest growing areas in Canada. Change is all around us as towns grow into cities and fields turn into suburbs. Nowhere else are historic buildings and heritage landscapes more at risk.

There are many ways in which our dynamic, growing, multicultural York Region is a far better place to live today than it was in days of yore. But there are buildings and artifacts and documents and entire places which should be preserved. If they are preserved, York Region will be a much more interesting place.

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I Want DUMB Technology!

YorkScene Blogger, Marie-Lynn Hammond

By: Marie-Lynn Hammond

Since I’m not under 25, I wasn’t born with a digital device in my hand. I got my first computer in my mid-30s, in the days when they were powered by gerbils running on a little treadmill, and they involved about 10 commands. All I wanted was a word processor to make writing easier, which it did. I had no trouble wrangling that early setup.

Also in those early days, I had a cassette recorder. When I felt a new song coming on, I’d slip a cassette in, hit Record, and let it run for 45 minutes while I tried endless combinations of chords, melodies and words while strumming my guitar. When I needed to write a line down in my notebook, I’d hit Pause. And when I was done, I’d hit Stop and then Playback. Simple. Straightforward.

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Freedom is a Feeling

Lesley Ann Marcovich

As Black History Month rolls around, I think about my birth place, Kwa Zulu Natal, on the east coast of Africa where Zulus dance and sing songs of hunting, of war, of love, of freedom.

The Zulus, who were, for almost half a century, suppressed under the apartheid system, took their emotions and gave them sound, rhythm and form, which, when united with their brothers and sisters empowered them to work, grieve, celebrate, and pray with a passion that resonated throughout the land.  

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Share your Vegas…or, does what happens there really ever stay?

Sher St. Kitts

Wow there is so much new to see, just back from 2 weeks In Vegas.  Bellagio’s fountains rain supreme music; new selections, several classical but my favourite remains Sinatra’s Luck Be a Lady Tonight! Scenes from top of Eiffel Tower continue to amaze.  New City Centre boasts Vdara, The Aria and newest of all (one month old) The Cosmopolitan.  Renee and I enjoyed a “mixologist” prepared Cosmopolitans at The Cosmopolitan, while playing  penny slots followed by the most delicious burger at Holstein’s beside the world’s largest crystal Chandelier! Continue reading

Musicians’ Websites: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Marie-Lynn Hammond

By: Marie-Lyn Hammond

I’m in the process of having my website redesigned, as well as starting the design for two new CDs I’m working on. As a result, I’ve been looking at other websites for roots/folk musicians to figure out what I want. Continue reading