Juno-winning singer, composer, actor and Canadian television personality Cathy Young was a pioneer in the struggle for Candian women to be taken seriously as artists, although she’d be the last to say so.
The unprepossessing but hugely talented composer and performer won one of the first Junos for Most Promising Female Vocalist Of The Year in the awards’ first-ever televised ceremony in 1974 (Ian Thomas was the winner of the Male equivalent award, the categories being merged in 1994) and was also later nominated as Best Female artist. She also a rich history of landmark accomplishments in Canadian theatre, musical theatre, film and tv (detailed in part below).
Last October Young’s many accomplishments were recognized at an Honouring Our Own tribute concert put on by SongTown music promotions and publishing enterprise.
But now SongTown impresario Pete Otis, who’s also about to stage a HOO salute to George Olliver on April 21 and a Purple Onion Reunion show at El Mocambo on May 4, (with seminal Yorkville acts Mike McKenna and Luke & The Apostles) will be putting on another toast to Young at Hugh’s Room on Sat. June 1.
“A lot of people contacted me after the October show and said they wished they’d known about it in time to come out to perform with and for Cathy,” Otis said by way of explaining the “double-HOO” for Young. Participants at the “encore” show will include longtime Mandala frontman and Gospel/Soul singer Olliver; R&B/Soul diva Betty Richardson; funnyman Michael McDonald; witty Folk songwriter Debbie Fleming; Funk/R&B tyro Shamakah Ali; and versatile horn/guitar artist Fergus Hambleton among a roster of at least 14 acts. The show will be hosted by Ken Stowar of CIUT -FM radio.
Young was a regular on the “Rita McNeil & Friends” CBC tv series, played Mary in the original Toronto theatrical production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and has appeared on a number of televised specials and programs, as well as composing theme songs for films and tv productions. For years she was the New Year’s Eve feature performer at the balls put on at Crown Plaza Hotel and has performed extensively at hotels and resorts in Asia and on numerous cruises.
Her musical pedigree goes back to Yorkville’s halcyon days of the early 70s after she arrived in Toronto from western Canada at 16 years of age to become part of a scene that also gave birth to the careers of such Blues and Blues/Rock luminaries as Mike McKenna, Luke Gibson, Pat Little and the Kensington Market band. She celebrated 40 years in the music business with a concert at Hugh’s Room in 2010 and was featured in Bruce McDonald’s 2011 documentary Toronto Rock & Roll Stories as one of the scene’s seminal artists.
The June 1 show in the cabaret-lounge style Hugh’s Room, at 2261 Dundas St. W., kicks off at 8, with doors opening at 7. Reservations/advance tickets are strongly recommended to get a good seat.