SOCAN was pleased and proud to present both Begonia and The Darcys with No. 1 Song Awards – to her for “Hanging on a Line,” and to the duo for “Better Days,” both of which scaled the peak of the CBC Music Top 20 in the summer of 2019.

Not only did the trio of singer-songwriters experience back-to-back chart-toppers – Begonia on Aug. 22, 2019, and The Darcys on Aug. 29, 2019 – but they met at a SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp on Pender Island in BC, back in 2017, and the following year released a holiday track written there together: “It Won’t Be Christmas (Till You’re Here)”.

Begonia co-wrote “Hanging on a Line” with Marcus Paquin, Matthew Peters, and Matthew Schellenberg, who’ll be presented with their plaques at a later day. The Darcys — Jason Couse and Wes Markell – co-write “Better Days” with Leah Fay of July Talk, who’ll also be awarded at a later date.

SOCAN’s Melissa Cameron-Passley caught up with Begonia and The Darcys at Lee’s Palace in downtown Toronto, on Nov. 15, 2019, prior to Begonia’s show there with Fast Romantics.

In an exclusive video interview with SOCAN, Jocelyn Alice talks about how she wrote her new album How Dare You, out today. The SOCAN member, celebrated songwriter, platinum-selling artist, 2016 SOCAN Pop/Rock Award winner, and SOCAN No. 1 Song Award winner also discusses the Caribbean flavour of some of the new songs; confessional songwriting with others; how songs sometimes fall right out of the air; and the differences in writing from scratch, or to a finished beat.

John Mann, singer and songwriter of Spirit of the West – the West Coast Celtic-folk-rock band whose rollicking ode to drinking, “Home For a Rest,” became an essential party staple that catapulted them to platinum-sales success – passed away on Nov. 20, 2019, at age 57, at his home in Vancouver, from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

In a statement, the band said: “Surrounded by friends and loving family until the end, all were reminded of John’s rich legacy. He was a potent force in music, acting – onstage, in movies and on television, and was world-renowned as a songwriter. As well, he was a foresightful activist and charitable figure for several worthwhile organizations. His work will resound long after his untimely passing.

“His career spanned nearly 40 years and included multiple film roles, numerous star turns in theatre, and fame as lead singer and spellbinding front-person of Canadian musical group Spirit of the West.

“John was a man of uncommon courage, was a loyal and beloved friend, a gentleman of great social conscience, and a soul brimming with creativity and enthusiasm. Most importantly, he was a loving father to Harlan and Hattie, and a wonderful husband to Jill Daum.

“A private memorial service will be held later. John Mann’s family thank you for privacy at this difficult time.”

Spirit of the West, John Mann, 2010 SOCAN Awards

Spirit of the West at the 2010 SOCAN Awards

Spirit of the West earned two platinum-selling albums in Canada, 1990’s Save This House and 1993’s Faithlift, and one Gold one, 1991’s Go Figure. The band earned four JUNO Award nominations between 1989 and 1995, and a SOCAN National Achievement Award, for their entire body if work, in 2010.

Along with “Home for a Rest,” the singles and CBC Music standards “Venice Is Sinking” and “Political” fostered and engaged a cross-Canada community of fans in the ‘90s, who would later help raise money for Mann’s care. More recently, “Spirit of John” fundraising events were held in Toronto and Vancouver, allowing the Alzheimer Society Music Project to purchase MP3 players to load with music and distribute to patients.

A documentary film that aired on HBO Canada, Spirit Unforgettable, told the story of the group preparing for a show, and performing at, Toronto’s Massey Hall. Mann also had many acting credits, appearing in such stage productions as Miss Saigon, Les Misérable, and Of Mice and Men, and roles on such TV series as Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, DaVinci’s Inquest, and Bionic Woman.

SOCAN extends our deepest sympathies and condolences to Mann’s family and friends at this challenging time.