London Music Hall of Fame unveils 2023 inductees
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The 2023 class being inducted into the London Music Hall of Fame has been announced ahead of a celebration during the Forest City London Music Awards on June 18. It’s a diverse group that officials praise as having “carried the London, Ontario banner around the word. ” Said Mario Circelli, chair of the hall of fame: “These people really exemplify the diversity of London and they’re all experts in their genre, from blues to heavy metal. We’re honored and proud to have this class.”
Dawn Tyler Watson moved here from England as a child and was raised in the city’s Huron Heights neighborhood. She competed at local Kiwanis festivals and attended Catholic Central High. She struggled at times, including living on the streets, and worked at various nightclubs before moving to Montreal’s Concordia University to study theater and jazz. “The blues chose me,” she said of how her career evolved. She released her debut blues album in 2001 and has enjoyed a two-decade career highlighted by a 2020 Juno award win for blues album of the year. “We all have a path,” she said when asked about her advice for emerging artists. “You need to be true to yourself and always love what you do.”
Four brothers, one great musical legacy: Gary, George, Mark and Randy McAuley. A 1994 Christmas recording set them on a path to national success that culminated with a 1997 Juno nomination for best soul/R&B album. Throughout their career they’ve shared the stage with the likes of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the Temptations. The brothers have gone on to careers as lawyers, educators and entrepreneurs and in 2022 returned to the studio to record their first single in two decades, I Can’t Wait To See You Smile.
Born in 1967, Bob Reid was a sports-loving child who was given a drum set while in Grade 2 that started his passion for music – which went into overdrive when he found his mother’s guitar and began playing it. He attended London’s AB Lucas secondary school and after graduating formed the heavy metal band SFH in which he was singer and guitarist from 1986 to 1999. In 1988, he joined the speed/thrash metal band Razor as singer/guitarist and the band has toured 18 countries. Here at home, he’s best known for his band Bobnoxious, which has been blasting out hard rock since the early 2000s and has released a half-dozen records.
The winners of a 1966 battle of the bands signed a Columbia Records contract one year later and their song Spin The Bottle hit the charts at radio stations across Southwestern Ontario. Soon, they were opening for Sly and the Family Stone on a tour along America’s east coast before dissolving in 1969. Its members were singer Kenn Allison, guitarist Dave “Bird” Partridge, bassist Jim Chapman, keys player Dave Baker and drummer Paul Kersey.
Alfredo Caxaj left his native Guatemala for London in 1985 and has put an indelible stamp on his adopted city with the creation of Sunfest. For decades, he’s served as executive director of the free-to-all downtown festival featuring music, food and arts from around the world. It draws 100,000 people annually. Caxaj has earned scores of honours, including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012, and was once named by The London Free Press as one of London’s 150 most influential citizens. He’s also an accomplished musician himself, playing with the Latin Jazz Ensemble.
The Simcoe, Ontario natively enjoyed a musical childhood and moved to London to earn a bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree from Western University. He also spent several years studying with the celebrated pianist Cecile Ousset in France. He has recorded 14 albums of solo piano selections. In London, he may be best known for his 2004 purchase of Aeolian Hall, turning the Old East landmark into a performing arts hall and music school.
London-based John Rowlands is an internationally acclaimed photographer who has taken pictures of some of the world’s biggest pop-culture figures. His career had been taken off by the mid-1960s, with his photos appearing in Time, Life, Rolling Stone and other international publications. Over five decades, he’s trained his lens on such superstars as the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Rush and Bob Dylan, criss-crossing North America to shoot them performing or living their lives backstage.
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