Canadian Musicians

It recently occured to me that I like and listen to an awfully high percentage of Canadian music.
I am quite happy to make this confession because/although I am not Canadian.[Aussie]

Some of the Canadian artists I regularly listen to are-Bruce Cockburn,The Flying Bulgars,Holly Cole,Jane Siberry,Leonard Cohen,Mc Gariggle Sisters,Martha Wainwright,Rufus Wainwright,KD Lang,Neil Young,Blue Rodeo,Joni Mitchell,Ron Sexsmith,Harry Manx,Sarah McLachlan and Diana Krall.

I was hoping to expand this list and would be grateful for any other suggestions of good Canadian music in a similar vain[please no Rush suggestions].I'm sure that like many great Australian musos some great Canadians get little recognition outside of their own country.
If it is well recorded too that would be a real bonus.
A brief description of what type of music any suggestions typify would also help.

Hi, Add Jann Arden and Dan Hill. Have you heard the K.D.Lang CD "Hymns of the 49th Parallel" A collection of Canadian music. Interesting stuff. Like hockey too.

Great post. I too have thought about the great quality of Canadian music. The Neil Young biography, "Shakey" gives an interesting look at the nation's music scene in the 60's.

A few of my favorites current favorites not on your list are: Jorane (Montreal I believe), The Weakerthans (Winepeg) who I saw live and really enjoyed, and New Pornographers/Zumpano/Neko Case from BC.

Sarah Harmer - singer-songwriter genre

Of the 2 CD's I have, I slightly prefer her 2000 release "You Were Here" to 2006's "I'm a Mountain".
I would give Loreena McKennitt a spin especially "The Visit" cd.
The Cowboy Junkies....need to hear them and see them for yourself.
Oscar Peterson,Angela Hewitt,Glenn Gould
Don't forget the old folkies Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia!!!
I'll second Sarah Harmer, Give you Lester Quitzau, Po' Girl, The Be Good Tanyas, Wailin' Jennys, Fred Eaglesmith and thank you for The Waifs and Kasey Chambers.
Downchild Blues Band
Powder Blues
Believe it or not, Lee Aaron is singing Jazz now.
Try this web site: There are a few called Six Strings North of the Border which are great samplers. There is also a Gordon Lightfoot tribute album featureing Canadian groups like the Tragically Hip and Bruce Cockburn. I also like Alex Houghton: Her latest CD Happy Body is great.
Keep them coming please.Cowboy Junkies are an old favourite I forgot to list.
I remember going into recored shops in Nova Scotia and being amazed at the amount of local maritime province recordings.I hope this rich vein of Canadian folk/roots is still going strong.

If you ever get a chance to see the Waifs live do it.One of the best live bands I have seen and just a great feel good buzz.
I forgot one I would recommend... If you are into jazz fusion try UZEB. Start with the Best of CD and if interested, check out the bassist, Alain Caron who has an impressive solo career : I'm listening to Alain Caron 5 right now. There are samples of each track you can try before you buy.
Check out Kathleen Edwards and the Duhks. Both are also great live. I think you will like them given the other bands you mentioned. Also second the Junkies...I see them whenever I get the chance.
Sorry... this didn't work the first time:
Jean Bardy-A Few Notes is a great cd. This is Jazz music and Bardy plays upright acoustic bass. The cd is made in Canada on Lost Charts Records.
Duane Andrews - a Jazz guitarist
Rick Hopkins, those are some good looking sources. Thanks. Wonderful thread BTW.
Here's a few that any REAL Canadians would mention:

-Spirit of the West - You may recall the "Faithlift" album with the great track And if Venice is Sinking
-Stephen Fearing, folk/rock, who keeps getting better and better. Some samples at:
-Blue Rodeo who can have a certain similarity to Cowboy Junkies (minus the sexy female) at times but can also really rock. Samples at:
-Tragically Hip (who was touched upon above).
-"54-40" from Vancouver and have moments of rock brilliance
-Last but definitely definitely definitely not least - the awesome Rheostatics. Check out this live video for proof of their awesomeness:


There are a lot of good suggestions from other posters, although they are quite diverse in terms of style. I'm not quite sure how wide you're casting your net in terms of musical genres.

What caught my eye was your comment about having been in Nova Scotia. The Maritimes are the part of the world where I was born and raised. I don't know if there is another part of Canada that has such a rich musical tradition. Although it is mostly known for traditional Celtic music, it is certainly not the only thing that comes out of there. You mentioned Holly Cole and Sarah McLachlin for instance. Both of these ladies come from Nova Scotia, as well as the late great traditional country musician, Hank Snow. Anne Murray as well, although I get the feeling from your post she's not quite your cup of tea (although your mother or girl friend might like her)

Anyway, using the Maritimes as a theme, here's a selection of some of the better known artists from that region.

Ryan's Fancy - three lads who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. They played traditional pub style Irish music. No longer together but huge when they were. I have eight or nine of their albums. If they ever got together for a reunion in the Maritimes it would take a Beatles reunion to outdraw them.

Great Big Sea and the Irish Descendants - two groups who carried on the tradition of Ryan's Fancy, playing traditional Irish music with some local compositions thrown in. Both still exist. Great Big Sea are quite well known nationally in Canada at the moment. They've broken out beyond the Maritimes.

Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster - fiddlers, both with national profiles. Natalie is a traditional east coast fiddler, jigs and reels, that type of thing. Ashley is a mixture of traditional and edgy contemporary. He's a bit eccentric, but a superb fiddler. By the way, the Premier of Nova Scotia is a fiddler too.

Mary Jane Lamond - popular locally, not well known outside the region. She sings traditional songs in Gaelic.

The Rankin Family and The Barra MacNeills - both are family groups (think of the Corrs). They play a mixture of traditional and contemporary compositions. The Rankins are known nationally so you are more likely to find their CD's, although they have recently broken up. One of them, Jimmy Rankin, has a solo career going. A bit of a country flavour to his solo music, sort of like Blue Rodeo.

Bruce Guthro and Rita MacNeil - both fairly well known outside the region. Bruce is a singer-songwriter, playing contemporary and traditional music leaning towards folk. Rita used to have a TV show which was broadcast nationally. A powerful and beautiful voice. More ballad oriented. If she can't bring you to tears, you have no heart.

Dutch Mason and Matt Minglewood - two bluesmen who have been around the Maritimes forever although not well known outside the region. When I was in university thirty years ago, Matt and Bruce Cockburn were both playing at the university during the orientation week at the start of the school year. Even back then, Matt Minglewood was something of a local blues legend.

And of course, the best music of all from eastern Canada occurs on weekend nights, every weekend, where every house has a fiddle or a guitar, or both. Put two Maritimers (or Newfoundlanders) together in a room and a party breaks out. The ceilidh is one of the great cultural traditions back home, and it is why easterners naturally congregate in the kitchen when they visit friends, and why a strong musical traditional continues to exist.

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned bagpipes.


Go to

This site contains a list of Canadian artists. The links on the left of the home page provide a break down by genre. The site has some glaring omissions, for example, Ian Tyson isn't there, but there's enough there to keep you busy for a while. I would suggest you try to link to the artist's website where you can download samples of their music.

I wanted to comment on a couple of people.

If you're into blues, check out the Jeff Healy Band. He covers other people's work. He's a tremendous guitarist.

Also check out Colin James. A bit hard to pin down in terms of style. A mixture of swing, big band and blues, with a touch of rock. You can't listen to his music without getting up and wanting to dance.

Someone else mentioned Gordon Lightfoot. He's a folk type who is an icon in Canada. He's been around for fifty years. He is to Canadian music what Bob Dylan is to the U.S. (that's acoustic Bob, not electric Bob)

Ian and Sylvia were also mentioned. That would be Ian and Sylvia Tyson. Folk with a country feel. On Neil Young's album "Comes a Time", he does a cover of Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds". Neil also played this song last year at Bob Geldof's Live 8 concert. Neil was the closing act at the Canadian venue for this worldwide concert. He described it as "the quintessential Canadian song". I agree.

Judging from the female singers you listed, you might also like Chantal Kreviazuk, Amanda Marshall or Sass Jordan. Contemporary adult is how I would describe them. Top 40 type of stuff, but who knows, you might like it. Sass Jordan has a bit of blues rock in her material.

Someone also mentioned Loreena McKennitt. She plays Celtic influenced music, with an ethereal New Age feel to it. (think of Enya). She plays the harp and she sings. You only have to hear her sing for five seconds and you wonder why she isn't an opera singer. Her voice is spectacular.
Colin James
This group is no longer together as the leader, J Gaines is on a solo career.

If you can ever get their lone album, it is intelligent, smart and witty and has is very melodic.

This is a classy album with styles ranging from ballads to funky. A great voice, a great album period. Seek it out !

One of my favorite 5 cd's of all time, really.

Try and find their song ''So they Say''
I too listen to A LOT of Canadian artists (mostly rock)

*Rock w/ some blues influence...Kim Mithcell, Colin James, Tragically Hip, Sass Jordan
*Rock w/ a funky touch of folk...David Wilcox (if you research this, be sure you are on the Canadian David Wilcox, as there is an American musican with the same name.

If you check these out and like'm, I'll send a bigger list.

Jeanne Lamon (sp?) is fabulous. Try Handels Concerto Grossi Opue 3, classical of course. Truly rewarding.

I am a Canadian, and proud of it. Glad to see people enjoy music from here. You may like these artists


Jim Bryson
Old Reliable
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
Elizabeth Anka Vajagic


Sadies (hard to classify, but great)
Broken Social Scene
Black Mountain
Arcade Fire


Mighty Popo
Alpha Yaya Diallo
Irshad Khan
Black Ox Orkestar


John Geggie
Vince Rimbach
Souljazz Orchestra


Marc-Andre Hamelin
Shauna Rolston
St Lawrence String Quartet


Polmo Popo
Silver Mount Zion

hope you check them out.

all the best

Yes, Marc-Andre Hamelin is superb!
Thanks everybody for your recommendations.

I also have CDs by the Rankins,Great Big Sea and Rita McNeil[I agree about her amazing voice-a morning radio announcer here was a big fan so I have heard a lot of her music].

Of course Australia also shares a strong Celtic heritage.Most Aussies have at least some Irish,Scots or Welsh heritage.Many love to claim to be descendents of Irish political convicts-when in truth their ancestor probably just stole an armfull of booze,shagged the magistrates daughter or stole a loaf of bread to feed their family.[maybe all three]

Paul Kelly is arguably our greatest and most enduring singer/songwriter.
I second the Duhks. Also saw the Mammals back up and play with Arlo Guthrie last year, that was great. They all know one another, all very talented.
Cant say enough about the Duhks new album Migrations. Listening to it now, saw them live weeks ago, fantastic, I love these guys!
An upcoming female jazz singer that you might enjoy if you like Dianna Krall is Chantal Chamberland. Nicely recorded CDs, if perhaps just a touch on the mellow side (I saw her live recently and I liked the fact that she cranked things up a notch.... she can really belt it when it's appropos!).

I am not sure if the Rankin family is here so I will suggest it. Some of the most amazing female vocals recorded. I think by your list you should also try Hawksley Workman and his Lover Fighter album was done well. Others include Uzeb (Jazz)Don Ross on acoustic guitar and recorded very well. And I am sorry but because I am canadian I have to suggest RUSH.

If you want to hear some kick-butt, groovin' jazz, check out the Montreal group Les Projectionnistes

The Wainwrights are personal favorites. Martha's voice is spine chilling.

And how about them Barenaked Ladies? :-)
Nearly as tough as naming famous Aussie bands, other than AC/DC. Found one, Kelly Joe Phelps, at least I think he is Canadian.
How can we forget the incredible vocal stylings of that great actor/singer William Shatner. Sorry Canada, he's all yours.
That's so funny...I just happening to be listening to Saga's Heads or Tails right now.
Thought I would throw out a singer songwriter whose songs have been covered by some of the aforementioned artists. Name of Fred Eaglesmith.
And another.......Leonard Cohen
What!-no Celine fans around here?
How about a Shatner/Celine duet album with Mariah Carey contributing too.It could be titled something like Shove a Kirk in it Divas!.
Could be handy if you accidentally swallow poison and need to induce vomiting.
If you are into jazz, try David Braid ( or Emilie-Claire Barlow (

If you like minimalist solo piano (e.g. Phillip Glass), try Bill Brennan (

Tafelmusik is terrific for Baroque stuff, but I find the sound quality of their stuff on Sony is a bit strained. They switched to Analekta a while back and the sound quality is much better. Maybe it's just me.
Some other notable Canadian musicians/groups (pop-instrumental-rock), some are gone but will never be forgotten include
Gino Vannelli - his most recent album beautifully recorded
Jesse Cook - you love guitar - this is it. Absolutely beautifully recorded. This guy is incredible.
Oldies but goodies include Men without Hats, Spoons, Triumph, Gowan, Blue Rodeo, Tragically Hip, Glass Tiger, Chalk Circle... lots of great music, some of the best in the world IMO.

Cheers eh ! :)
Did you know that one of the McGariggle Sister is the Mom of the Wainwright kids Rufus and Martha. I also noticed you left their Dad off your list

FYI you can see & hear Dad and the Kids in the Martin Scorcese Film "The Aviator" All three perform seperately in different scenes and on the Soundtrack

I have a soft spot for Rick James myself - Bustin outa L7

Groovey Records

Listening to

Sly and The Family Stone -'There's a Riot Goin On' Epic 180 gram reissue Vinyl
I also noticed you left their Dad off your list
Mom Kate is Canadian, but daddy Loudon Wainwright III is a Yank.
If you like blues, David Gogo has to be on your list. Steve
Check out Chantal Kreviatzuk....Very well known in Canada, not so well known in the US. Better known for her song writing than her singing...her older cd's are better than her newest cd released this year.

Hey...Nelly Furtado is Canadian too! I saw her in concert this past summer..amazing!

Alternative Canadian Artists:

Sloan (Check out "A-Sides Win")
The Tragically Hip (Do an Amazon search)
Econoline Crush (Check out "The Devil You Know")
54-40 (Check out "The Essentials")
Sam Roberts (new artist)
Chalk Circle (Check out "20th Century Century Masters")
Tom Cochrane & Red Rider (Check Out "Over 60 Minutes with Red Rider")