By Troy Hasselman, June 25 2019 —
Known for international hits such as “Sunglasses at Night” and “Never Surrender,” Canadian music legend Corey Hart was given a plaque ceremony at the National Music Centre on June 19 to honour his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The ceremony involved Hart, NMC President and CEO Andrew Mosker and Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President and CEO Allan Reid.
The evening kicked off with a land blessing from Blackfoot Elder Sheldon First Rider followed by some words from Mosker where he spoke of some of the previous artists inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and The Tragically Hip. Mosker noted the outsize influence that Canadian music has compared to our relatively small population.
“The music of Canada punches so high above its weight in this world,” Mosker says. “Some of our best-known Canadians are musicians.”
Following Mosker came some words from Allan Reid about his first meeting with Hart via phone call where he informed him of his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
“Corey and I had never met and I had a chance to call him and tell him he was going to be the inductee and we spoke for probably about seven minutes before I said ‘By the way, the reason I’m calling…” says Reid.
After Reid, Hart himself spoke about the honour and what it means to him.
“Quite honestly, it’s not something an artist should ever aspire to, to be inducted into a hall of fame. An artist pursues his music and devotes his life to it and if something wonderful happens like this it’s an unexpected blessing,” Hart says.
Hart’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame coincides with the release of his first new new music since 1998’s Jade with this years Dreaming Time Again EP and his first Canadian tour since the 1990’s. Hart stepped away from music after starting a family with his wife Jullie Masse in the late ‘90s.
“Music saved my life when I was a little boy and music continues to inspire,” Hart says. “Without music I never would have met Julie or experienced the joy of our four children. My choice of stepping away to raise them was from the personal architecture of my early youth — not having a father in my life, so I really wanted to be with them.”
After these words, Hart’s plaque was formally attached to the wall and the ceremony reconvened in the NMC performance space for an interview between Hart and Montreal radio broadcaster Rob Braide in a thirty-minute conversation that covered Hart’s childhood in Montreal, career beginnings, creative process and his family.
An interesting anecdote from this conversation the story of how Hart received his first record deal.
“I was reading Billboard Magazine and on the back was a full page ad for April Wine and I was in Long Island at the time, and the address on the back was for Aquarius Records in Montreal.” Hart says. “And I was like ‘Shit, I’m here trying to get in Billboard and I’m here in Long Island.’ Things were not going well. Record companies were saying no and that I need to do this or that and I was getting frustrated. I packed my bags, got in the car, and drove straight to Aquarius records. I walked in looking all dishevelled and I didn’t know what I was going to say. I just walked in and said ‘My name’s Corey Hart — can I see the president of the company?’ They politely told me to leave. I didn’t wanna be aggressive so I just said ‘Pretty please can I see someone here?’ and I brought the copy of Billboard and showed and while we were having this back and forth Terry Flood, who was the president of the label, walked out and overheard this conversation and he looks and sees this 18 year old kid there and looked at me and said ‘Who are you?’ and I said ‘My name’s Corey Hart,” and he said ‘And you wanna do what?’ and I said ‘I’m a singer/songwriter and I want a record deal.’ And he said, ‘Come into my office.’ ”
Following this conversation came a stripped-down acoustic performance of songs through his career with a band that included Hart’s wife, Julie Masse, on backing vocals. The band played four songs including his early song “She’s Got the Radio” with the band interpolating the outro of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” for the song.
Studio Bell has an exhibition on the life and career of Hart called Milestones: Corey Hart that includes letters, photos, memorabilia and audio recordings from throughout Hart’s career. The exhibit will be running until October.