TORONTO — Tom Cochrane, Rush, Stompin’ Tom Connors and Kardinal Offishall were among those honoured by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada at its 20th annual awards gala on Monday night.
Connors, the 73-year-old country-folk legend who issued his 50th album in 2008, was given a lifetime achievement award for outstanding success throughout his music career.
Rush, meanwhile, took the international achievement honour after another successful year of touring and the release of “Snakes & Arrows Live,” while Rita MacNeil received the national achievement award for success in the Canadian music industry over her career.
“It’s a great honour,” said MacNeil, who flew in earlier Monday from Cape Breton, N.S. “Coming here tonight has been really great fun — it’s good to see an old soul like me still going.”
SOCAN, which is the Canadian copyright collective for the communication and performance of musical works, also recognized songs that were played 100,000 times on Canadian radio in 2008.
Cochrane led the way with awards for five such tunes: “Big League,” “Boy Inside the Man,” “I Wish You Well,” “No Regrets,” and “Lunatic Fringe,” which he released in 1981, never thinking it would still be on the radio nearly three decades later.
“That song has stood the test of time, and it just has garnered a lot of radio play over the years — I never thought it would,” Cochrane told The Canadian Press just after arriving at the gala.
Cochrane noted he demoed the song the same night John Lennon died, and his feelings after the murder galvanized him to release the song despite the input of industry peers who didn’t think the track was commercial enough.
“I never thought it would see the light of day but it did — I guess you have to follow your heart,” he said.
Vancouver’s 54-40 earned awards for two songs that received major radio play (“I Go Blind” and “Ocean Pearl”), as did Carolyn Dawn Johnson (“Complicated” and “I Don’t Want You to Go”) and Marc Jordan (“I Fall From Grace” and “This,” which was performed by Rod Stewart).
Glass Tiger’s “My Town,” Ian Thomas’s “Pilot” and Stephan Moccio and Aldo Caporuscio’s “A New Day Has Come,” as performed by Celine Dion, also made the list, along with Gordon Lightfoot’s “Race Among the Ruins.”
Lightfoot, like Cochrane, didn’t realize at the time that the song would have such longevity.
“No, I really did not,” said Lightfoot, who stood out wearing a bright red blazer with his white hair pulled back. “I understood though it was a great one to play onstage … I believe that is why it remains in view.”
The society also dispensed awards for the songs that received the most domestic radio play in 2008.
Finger Eleven of Burlington, Ont., were recognized for “I’ll Keep Your Memory Vague” while also taking the award for international song for “Paralyzer,” which reached No. 6 on the U.S. charts and was certified double-platinum there in 2008.
Feist was also honoured for her hit “1234,” while the other pop/rock artists acknowledged for domestic airplay were Kreesha Turner, whose “Don’t Call Me Baby” was written by Jon Levine and Anjulie Persaud, and Hedley, for “For the Nights I Can’t Remember.”
In the country music category, Gord Bamford’s “Stayed ’Til Two,” Doc Walker’s “Beautiful Life,” and Deric Ruttan’s “First Time in a Long Time” received SOCAN awards for their airplay.
Kardinal Offishall’s “Dangerous” took the urban music award after winning the Juno Award for single of the year in March. The song, which featured St. Louis-based R&B crooner Akon, reached No. 2 on the Canadian charts and No. 5 in the United States.
One of the few Canadian hip-hop artists to receive major airplay south of the border, he said it takes extremely hard work to get noticed there as a Canuck rapper.
“Unfortunately we have a little bit of a double-edged sword living so close to the States because we see a lot of their hoop dreams and we think, ’Oh, that could happen to us,’ but we don’t realize our infrastructure is different,” he said.
“So we have to do what they’re doing in the States except times a million.”
Corb Lund took the roots/folk music award for domestic radio after watching multiple singles from 2007’s “Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!” make the Canadian country music chart.
Ottawa-born composer James Rolfe won the Jan V. Matejcek award for overall success in new classical music, while Cuban-Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba took the Hagood Hardy award for overall success in jazz, instrumental or world music.
“This comes at the tail end of a beautiful year for me,” Cuba said just prior to the gala.
Toronto-based publicist Richard Flohil received the special achievement award for his career contributions to the Canadian music industry.
SOCAN will recognize francophone music creators at a gala in Montreal on Nov. 24.