The Most Conspicuous Omissions from the Canadian Music Hall of Fame
Including Céline Dion, Deborah Cox, Stompin' Tom Connors, Sloan and more all-time greats
Published Apr 09, 2021On May 16, Jann Arden will be inducted to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as part of the Juno Awards. Since its inception in 1978, the institution has bestowed this honour to only 56 acts, leaving a cavernous backlog of musicians waiting for their chance to be recognized. Here's the some of the most deserving.
15. Karen James
Moving to Canada from Great Britain, Karen James' uniquely Canadian songbook would become a significant part of the burgeoning early-'60 folk scene, later collected on record by Smithsonian Folkways. Her induction would remedy the Hall's blind spot for East Coast music and pave the way for Buddy MacMaster, Spirit of the West and Ashley MacIsaac.
For many Canadians, progressive rock starts and ends with Rush. But despite the fact that Harmonium released their debut one week before Rush's, it nonetheless took decades before their influence was recognized outside of Quebec. In 2015, Rolling Stone named their second LP one of the 50 greatest progressive rock albums of all time.
13. Main Source
Mirroring Grandmaster Flash's induction in the U.S., the best way to introduce rap to the Canadian Music Hall is to instate its trailblazer. Comprised of two Toronto DJs and a Queens MC, Main Source released their 1991 debut, Breaking Atoms, which The Source would later name as one of the 100 best rap albums.
12. Susan Aglukark
The Inuk singer-songwriter from Nunavut is one of the most decorated performers in all of Canada. Aglukark's 1995 LP, This Child, went triple platinum and scored her a massive hit with "O Siem." Multiple Junos followed, along with the Order of Canada and the Governor General's Award.
11. Richie Hawtin
Much like the Belleville Three are credited with inventing techno in Detroit, Richie Hawtin has been called a pioneer of the genre's more minimal-sounding second wave. Growing up across the river in Windsor, Hawtin (a.k.a Plastikman) became Canada's first electronic superstar, playing shows to tens of thousands across Europe and Asia.
10. Skinny Puppy
The Vancouver band's influence on industrial rock cannot be overstated. The Los Angeles Times called Skinny Puppy vocalist Nivek Ogre the "first industrial rock star," while Ministry and Nine Inch Nails cite them as influences on their own pioneering sounds. Additionally, they racked up a handful of gold albums and put Nettwerk Records on the map.
9. Howard Shore
The original leader of the Saturday Night Live Band (where he would compose the show's theme song), Howard Shore would move on to score dozens of major motion pictures, winning awards for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and late-career Scorsese films like Gangs of New York and The Aviator.
8. Jack Scott
Dubbed "undeniably the greatest Canadian rock and roll singer of all time" by Rolling Stone, Jack Scott would move from Windsor to Detroit before becoming a '50s rockabilly sensation. His 19 Billboard Hot 100 singles over a three and a half years puts him among rarified company like the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
7. Jack Richardson
If the Junos name their award for best producer after you, that should be enough to get you in the Hall. Add in the fact that he helped record a slew of hit singles — including Bob Seger's "Night Moves," Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" and the Guess Who's "American Woman" — and it's pretty much a no-brainer.
6. Deborah Cox
Although Canadians loved Deborah Cox throughout the '90s, Americans may have loved her even more. The Toronto-born singer has topped the U.S. Dance Club Songs Chart a whopping 13 times, while her platinum-selling single "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" ranked fifth on Billboard's all-time Hot R&B/Hip-Hop list.
5. Robert Charlebois
Anyone from Quebec will tell you that Robert Charlebois is a living legend. Aside from releasing some of the province's most beloved records over the past six decades, Charlebois is a celebrated author, actor and former owner of Unibroue brewery. When the Hall starts to honour French Canada, chanced are he'll be their first choice.
They've been eligible to enter the Hall for nine years now. NINE YEARS.
3. Oliver Jones
Oscar Peterson may be Canada's most celebrated jazz musician, but Oliver Jones might just be the most recognizable around the world. Following in the footsteps of his aforementioned idol, Jones toured relentlessly throughout the '80s, drawing large crowds in Cuba, Brazil, China, Egypt and the Ivory Coast, all while collecting awards and honours back home.
2. Stompin' Tom Connors
There are few Canadians who have told the story of this country better and more colourfully than Stompin' Tom. Despite the fact that the average Canuck may only recognize his songs about hockey and potatoes, Connor was a major force on the Canadian country chart in the 1970s.
1. Céline Dion
Yes, you read that right. For some bizarre reason, Céline Dion is not a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. If there were an International Music Hall of Fame, she'd be a first-year eligible inductee, hands down. Maybe the Canadian Hall is waiting for her to score another three-dozen Top 40 hits.