SOCAN mourns the loss of East Coast folk singer-songwriter, SOCAN member, and former member of the SOCAN Board of Directors Laura Smith, who died on March 7, 2020, of pancreatic cancer, at the age of 67. Smith passed away peacefully at her home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, surrounded by family and friends. A GoFundMe campaign started for Smith’s care raised $45,000, nearly twice its goal, and Smith’s musical peers across the country had expressed their love and support for her.

On Feb. 28, 2020, Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto hosted a tribute to Smith, Celebrating An Icon, featuring Paul Mills, Tony McManus, Grit Laskin, Tannis Slimmon, Allison Lupton, Eve Goldberg, David Woodhead, John Sheard, and Lenny and Wendy Solomon. An all-star, sold-out tribute concert, My Bonny: Celebrating the Music of Laura Smith, at Casino Nova Scotia’s Schooner Showroom in Halifax on March 29, 2020, will go ahead as scheduled, with a lineup that includes Heather Rankin, Bruce Guthro, Lennie Gallant, Lucy MacNeil, Myles Goodwyn, and more.

Born and raised in London, Ontario, Smith made her debut on the local coffeehouse circuit. She moved to Toronto in 1975, then to Cape Breton in 1984. Her second album, B’tween the Earth and My Soul, brought her national acclaim and earned two East Coast Music Awards (for Female Artist and Album of the Year) and two JUNO nominations (for Best New Solo Artist and Best Roots and Traditional Album). In 1997, earned a Gemini Award for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program or Series. Her 1995 single “Shade of Your Love” was one of the year’s biggest hits on adult contemporary radio stations in Canada.

An adaptation of the Scottish folk song “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,” which she shortened to “My Bonny,” became one of her most popular songs, and she recorded a version of it with The Chieftains on their album Fire in the Kitchen. In 2003, Smith was honoured with a Doctor of Humanities in Literature from Mount Saint Vincent University. In the 2000s, she spent two seasons onstage in Prince Edward Island, in the role of Marilla in the musical Anne & Gilbert, at the Victoria Playhouse in Victoria-by-the-Sea, and the Jubilee Theatre in Summerside, respectively. Although her career was hindered by debilitating accidents, and a resulting dependence on painkillers, Smith completed her first recording in 16 years, Everything Is Moving, in 2013.

There are plans for a memorial and wake, and SOCAN extends its deepest sympathies to Smith’s family, friends, and colleagues throughout the Canadian music community.

SOCAN A&R Representative Racquel Villagante took part in a Tune Up/The Bout panel, co-presented by Women in Music Canada, at a “Monetize Your  Music” event held March 5, 2020, at The Hideout in downtown Toronto.

The gathering, also sponsored by Music Ontario and Music Publishers Canada, included a panel of royalty experts;  a presentation by the Canadian Federation of Musicians presentation; a lightning round of one-on-one Q&As with representatives of various rights organizations; and a post-event cocktail reception for networking directly.

The event drew more than 100 people, mainly artists, songwriters, producers, and their managers. The panel was moderated by Margaret McGuffin of Music Publishers Canada, and there were speakers from SOCAN, ACTRA-RACS, CONNECT Music Licensing, The Canadian Federation of Musicians, MROC, and RE:SOUND.

Attending music makers got to connect with the rights and royalties people in their corner. They learned how organizations collect royalties on their behalf when their music is publicly performed, reproduced, and synchronized, and how those companies pay them. They also were educated on how to ensure their works are properly registered with these organizations, and advocate with them, to make sure they’re getting properly paid for the use of their music.

SOCAN congratulates our member screen composers, brothers Mychael and Jeff Danna, for composing the score to Onward, the Pixar/Disney animated movie that hit No. 1 on the box office in America on the weekend of March 6-8, 2020. Onward – which earned $40 million in the U.S., and $28 more million worldwide, in its opening weekend – stars the voices of Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, as two elf brothers on a quest, in a van, to magically spend one more day with their deceased accountant father.

It turns out that the Danna brothers had also lost their accountant father when they were teenagers in Toronto. At Pixar’s original presentation of the story, Mychael recalled to movie-industry bible Variety, “We were just like, ‘Is this a joke? Is this some weird prank?’ because it was pretty much our story.” Jeff added, “There were so many parallels, we were shaking our heads, we couldn’t believe it.”

Film Music Magazine says, “With their dexterity at both ethnic and orchestral music, Mychael and Jeff Danna conjure a wondrous, theme-filled quest that drives Onward’s magic bus.” Variety says, “There is a 92-piece orchestra and 30-voice choir, but the mystical sounds of Renaissance lute and wire-strung harp, along with the medieval voice of the crumhorn, flavor the score with hints of the fantasy world that’s on screen. Elf brothers Ian and Barley pursue their quest… in an old van whose cassette player blasts a wild mashup of ‘70s progressive rock and ‘90s indie rock – all written and played by guitarist Jeff and keyboardist Mychael in a callback to their own, pre-film-music experiences in Canadian pop bands.”

Mychael Danna is an Oscar winner for Life of Pi, an Emmy winner for World Without End, and has composed scores as diverse as Moneyball, Capote, and Girl Interrupted. Jeff Danna’s credits include Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and documentary The Kid Stays in The Picture. Working on their own, Mychael has won six SOCAN Awards, and Jeff has garnered five of them. Working together, they’ve earned three of them – for the Anthony Hopkins/Ryan Gosling-starring Fracture in 2008; the Disney/Pixar animated movie The Good Dinosaur in 2017; and the Warner Animation Group’s Storks in 2018.