SOCAN member Galt MacDermott, best known as the Grammy- and Tony-winning composer of the music for the groundbreaking hippie Broadway musical Hair (which he later adapted for the 1979 film), has died at the age of 89, one day before his 90th birthday, of unknown causes.

The Montréal-born MacDermot won his first Grammy Award for the Cannonball Adderley recording of his song “African Waltz” (the title track of the album of the same name) in 1960. His most successful musicals were Hair (1967; its cast album also won a Grammy) and Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971), which won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Three of the songs from Hair hit the top of the charts in 1969: “Aquarius,” “Let the Sunshine In,” and “Good Morning Starshine.” In 2003, “Aquarius” was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and SOCAN honoured MacDermot with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 SOCAN Awards in Toronto.

Hair: The American Tribal Love Rock Musical has been called Broadway’s first rock musical, and one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time. Record-breaking audiences flocked to see it across Europe, in London’s West End, and in Japan, Israel, and Australia. The music for the show employed elements of rock, R&B and funk.

Said MacDermot of his work on it, “I was interested in jazz and rock and roll….so theatre was another world to me.” But when he was approached by writers James Rado and Gerome Ragni, he accepted the challenge. “I was given the lyrics to the show, not all at once, but they gave me about 10 and then they kept writing new ones. I set them all to music.”

In recent decades, MacDermot’s work enjoyed something of a renaissance with hip-hop musicians, who have extensively sampled his work. Those include old-school rappers Busta Rhymes, Run DMC, Handsome Boy Modelling School, DJ Vadim, DJ Premier, and Oh No, as well as more current ones like MF Doom and J-Dilla.

Galt McDermott is survived by his son, Vincent, and daughters Elizabeth, Jolanthe, Sarah, and Molly (MacDermott Boxer).

In an interview with SOCAN, Serena Ryder discusses her beat-heavy songwriting process, and the supportive role of her musical family as she was growing up.

On Dec. 13, 2018, the SOCAN Montréal office enjoyed the pleasure of hosting Marie-Mai, who received two SOCAN No. 1 Song Awards, for her hits “Empire and “Je décolle,” which both were No. 1 on the BDS and ADISQ Correspondants charts over the past few months.

“I’ll never get used to this recognition from the industry,” says Marie-Mai. “I feel privileged that my songs “Empire” and “Je décolle” have found their way into people’s hearts so strongly.”

SOCAN congratulates Marie-Mai and her collaborators Thomas “Tawgs” Salter (“Empire”) and Olivier Epsom (“Je décolle”) ,as well as the songs’ publishers, MAIB Inc., Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada, and BMG Rights Management Canada.

Marie-Mai’s current album, Elle et moi, is still faring very well on sales charts and digital platforms. Her tour of the same name has already reached new heights since the tickets have gone on sale; to date, she’s sold more than 35,000, even before rehearsals have begun.

Marie-Mai was invited to the prestigious Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards on Dec. 1, in Toronto (aired on Dec. 9), and shared the spotlight with renowned Canadian stars such as Sarah McLachlan and actress Catherine O’Hara. While onstage, Marie-Mai paid homage to the late, great Leonard Cohen by singing his song “Famous Blue Raincoat.” You can watch Marie-Mai’s performance here.

“Growing up in Montréal, Leonard Cohen is everywhere, in arts, music and culture,” she3 says. “His body of work and his words are anchored in our collective memory, and carried on generation after generation. It truly is a great honour to have been able to pay homage to him.”

Also of note, starting on January 30, 2019, Marie-Mai will share the spotlight with Scott Borchetta as an official judge for the popular Canadian TV program The Launch, which will air on CTV and VRAK (with French subtitles).