National Newswatch

Pop collective Choir! Choir! Choir! sinks its musical hooks into the masses

Dec 11 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — With Choir! Choir! Choir! rehearsals almost ready to begin, the excitement among the pop collective's members is rising by the minute. About 150 people have squeezed into the back room of Clinton's Tavern, a bar in downtown Toronto, on this chilly night in late November. They're about to sing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," and many are whispering the 1970s classic under their […]

Violinist Christina Day Martinson on the ‘intense spiritual journey’ behind her Grammy nod

Dec 7 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — When Christina Day Martinson left her house Friday morning to drive her kids to school, she didn't expect to return home a Grammy Award nominee. But the violinist, who grew up in Saskatoon, is learning that one accolade sometimes leads to another. Earlier this week, her album "Biber: The Mystery Sonatas" was chosen as one of the year's best […]

‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ pulled from some Canadian radio stations

Dec 4 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is getting a chilly response from Canadian radio stations. CBC Radio said Tuesday it's joining at least two other broadcasters in the country, Rogers Media and Bell Media, in pulling the controversial Christmas favourite out of their rotations this year. The move comes as the duet, written back in 1944, faces renewed scrutiny over what some say are […]

Posthumous debut album from slain Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg released

Nov 30 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg's posthumous album arrived on Friday, exactly five months after he was killed in a brazen shooting. "Struggle Before Glory" marks the debut full-length record from the performer, born Jahvante Smart, who was considered one of Toronto's rising young rappers. The 21-year-old captured the attention of the local hip-hop community after joining Drake […]

Serena Ryder says Christmas album opened doors to play jazz music

Nov 30 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Serena Ryder is checking off one wish on her Christmas list — recording a jazz album.  The Peterborough, Ont.-raised musician says she's wanted to dabble in the genre for years, but it took acclaimed Canadian producer Bob Ezrin to make it happen on her holiday album "Christmas Kisses." The veteran songmaker who's worked with Pink Floyd, Lou […]

Netflix Canada plans biggest price increase yet as competition intensifies

Nov 29 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Another price hike is on the way for Netflix Canada subscribers as competition heats up among the biggest streaming video services. The company behind "Narcos" and "Orange Is the New Black" is introducing its biggest price increase yet for both new subscribers and current members. Netflix's standard plan will now cost $3 more — or $13.99 a month — to watch content on […]

Alessia Cara plans social media break, calls out nastiness of online fan culture

Nov 27 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Alessia Cara says she's stepping away from her social media feeds after a recent onslaught of negative comments. The Grammy-winning pop singer took to Instagram late Monday to share a number of screen shots from her Twitter account that showed users criticizing her appearance and firing obscenities at her. The 22-year-old singer says the comments — captured in […]

Why most Canadians won’t see Oscar-contender ‘Roma’ at their local cinema

Nov 27 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — With director Alfonso Cuaron's sweeping epic "Roma" floating on a cloud of positive buzz, the Netflix film seems destined to be a major awards contender. But unlike other best picture Oscar bets "A Star Is Born," "Black Panther," and "Widows," it's angling to get there without playing theatres across the country. Despite a critically acclaimed premiere at the recent […]

Jason Sniderman’s glam-rock persona Ensign Broderick unleashed at 60

Nov 22 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Jason Sniderman has been frustratingly patient with his glam-rock persona, Ensign Broderick. It was nearly half a century ago, when he was a teenager, that he first imagined his alter ego taking the music industry by storm. Ensign was a cocktail of influences dreamed up in his bedroom — a dash of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust mixed with Nick Cave's […]

How one Canadian investment company is chasing Oscars with top Hollywood stars

Nov 15 2018 — David Friend, The Canadian Press — TORONTO — Jason Cloth still remembers the night his biggest shot at Oscar glory slipped out of his hands. The Toronto-based financier had just finished celebrating his 2016 film "The Birth of a Nation" at a dinner party with director Nate Parker. The slave uprising drama was receiving warm reviews, secured a major distribution deal with Fox Searchlight and seemed positioned to collect armfuls […]