Dan Hill, one of Canada’s most successful songwriters, will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame with a virtual presentation on CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 – that will include an exclusive live performance by Hill featuring some of his definitive hits.
Hill catapulted to fame in the 1970s with one of the biggest songs of the decade, “Sometimes When We Touch,” and continued to conquer the adult contemporary charts through the 1980s and 1990s, with a devoted worldwide following. Behind the scenes, he penned hits for Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Britney Spears, 98 Degrees, and Alan Jackson, to name a few; and recently stepped back into the spotlight in 2020 with his urgent and heartfelt single, “What About Black Lives?,” from his 15th studio album, On The Other Side of Here.
Hill will be inducted to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s permanent home in the National Music Centre in Calgary, featuring interactive exhibits and memorabilia dedicated to Canada’s greatest songwriters and songs.
“Dan’s songs are authentic and intimate, whether he’s singing about love or social injustice,” said Vanessa Thomas, Executive Director of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. “He may have a soft-spoken voice and sing to soft-rock melodies, but his lyrics resonate as loudly and powerfully as if he were shouting it from the mountains. That is the gift that Dan possesses, as an artist and songwriter.”
1977’s “Sometimes When We Touch,” and 1987’s “Can’t We Try” duet with American songstress Vonda Shepard, are among Hill’s most successful hits. “Sometimes” was co-written with New York songwriter Barry Mann, and reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It garnered several SOCAN Awards, as well as five JUNO Awards, including Songwriter of the Year in 1979. “Can’t We Try” was Billboard’s No. 1 Adult Contemporary Song of the Year for 1987, among many chart-topping singles and successful albums that Hill would produce.
Between 1986 and 1989, a Dan Hill hit could be found on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart (and usually the Canadian national chart) every week, for an unparalleled four years. His hits included the romantic ballads “In Your Eyes,” “Hold Me Now” (with Rique Franks), “All I See Is Your Face,” “Carmelia,” “Unborn Heart,” “I Fall All Over Again,” and “Never Thought That I Could Love,” which also shot to No. 1 in Canada.
In the late ‘90s Hill shifted his focus to writing songs for other artists, and became a versatile writer-on-demand for pop, country and R&B icons, including Barry Manilow, George Benson, Spain’s Camilo Sesto, Reba McEntire, and the Backstreet Boys. His many successes include the No. 1 country hits “I Do (Cherish You)” and “Love Of My Life”; and he received a 1996 Grammy Award for co-producing Celine Dion’s album Falling Into You, which featured his song “Seduces Me,” co-written with John Sheard.
As Hill states in his 2009 bestselling memoir, “Right from the beginning, I’ve written songs simply because I’ve had no other choice.” He began composing songs from the age of 14, and would also later pen articles for the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, and Toronto newspapers, including one entitled “On Being Black.” Hill has often used his writing talents to share personal experiences on race, relationships, and socio-political commentary, such as the song, “McCarthy’s Day” (1977), about the courageous inter-racial relationship between his American-born parents.
His matchless talent is still in demand as he continues to write and record music, including the 2009 album Intimate, and his topical 2020 single “What About Black Lives?,” from his 2021 album On The Other Side of Here. As Hill says, “There’s still a craving for real songs. People still want to have old-fashioned songs with stories, strong melodies, and relatable lyrics.”
More than four decades since the release of “Sometimes When We Touch,” the song continues to receive radio play and has been covered by numerous artists including Tammy Wynette, Oscar Peterson, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, Ginette Reno, and Cleo Laine. Hill declared, “So many pop stars recorded it… that in a sense it didn’t belong to me any longer. It was bigger than me, bigger than life.”
Dan Hill has earned six ASCAP Awards and SOCAN’s William Harold Moon Award for international songwriting success. He published a best-selling memoir in 2009, I Am My Father’s Son: A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness, where he opens up about the relationship with his father, who was a social activist and later became the first Director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; as well as with his brother Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes), and late sister Karen, who was also an accomplished poet.