Canadian musician & songwriter, Christopher Ward has written songs for Diana Ross, Hilary Duff, Wynonna Judd, The Backstreet Boys, Meredith Brooks, Tina Arena, Amanda Marshall, Peter Cetera, Colin James, Roch Voisine and many others. His best-known song is the worldwide # 1 hit for Alannah Myles, ‘Black Velvet’, recently included in Bob Mersereau’s book ‘The Top 100 Canadian Singles’. Previously, Ward was a member of the ‘Second City Touring Company’, based in Toronto.
In 1984, as Canada’s first ‘VJ’, he helped launch MuchMusic, where he interviewed artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel and Tina Turner. In 2002, Ward was featured in ‘Austin Powers – Goldmember’ in the group Ming Tea, alongside Susanna Hoffs, Matthew Sweet and Mike Myers.
Name: Christopher Ward
# of Albums:4
Latest Release: Same River Twice
Latest Single: Black Velvet
Favourite band as a teenager: The Beatles
Favourite band now: The National
Guilty Pleasure Song: Cheap Queen by King Princess
Live Show Ritual: Inhale exhale
Favourite local artist: Serena Ryder
EP or LP? LP
Early bird or night owl? The Elvis hours
Road or studio? Studio
Any shows or albums coming up? (What do you currently want to promote?)
Alannah Myles’ Billboard No. 1 song from the 1990s, “Black Velvet,” will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame on June 10, 2021.
The idea for “Black Velvet” was sparked by a trip to Memphis a few years prior, for the 10th anniversary of Elvis’s death. Ward, a renowned MuchMusic VJ at the time, was on a music assignment with a group of Elvis fans and was inspired to write a song that evoked the passion he witnessed. As Ward recalls, during the songwriting process, “for me, every song has a key line that unlocks the rest of it. With ‘Black Velvet,’ it was, ‘a new religion that’ll bring you to your knees.’ That new religion was rock ‘n’ roll.”
Myles put her stamp on the song with distinctive, raw, and gritty vocals that were powerful, yet at times soft and playful. Released in July 1989, the song quickly skyrocketed up the charts, reaching No. 1 on the Cashbox chart, Billboard’s Hot 100, then mainstream rock charts by early 1990. The album sold 1.2 million copies in Canada, making Myles the first female artist to achieve Diamond status in Canada. The song swept the 1990 JUNO Awards, garnering Tyson and Ward the Composer of the Year honour. Myles’s recording won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, topping heavyweight nominees, including Janet Jackson and Tina Turner.
“Black Velvet” was declared a SOCAN Classic in 2004 and became a blockbuster mega-hit – one of the most-requested songs on radio. It has since been widely covered, by the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Melissa Etheridge, Cali Tucker, JUNO winner Meghan Patrick, and others. It continues to reach new audiences today, with more than 150 million streams on Spotify. More than 30 years after its release, Ward has recorded his own version of “Black Velvet” in a new, self-penned, and deeply introspective album, Same River Twice, released May 28, 2021.
Ward has written for top artists including The Backstreet Boys, Colin James, Wynonna Judd, Anne Murray, Amanda Marshall, Peter Cetera, and Diana Ross. Tyson has written for celebrated artists, including Celine Dion, and has produced for Eddie Schwartz, Amanda Marshall, Heather Rankin, and others; he’s also won multiple JUNO Awards, including Songwriter of the Year for his work with Hall & Oates.
Rapid Fire Qs on Toronto
Sneaky Dees nachos, pasta from Terroni or a superfood salad from Fresh?
Pasta from Terroni.
Queen or College St?
Trinity Bellwoods, High Park, Riverdale, Kew Gardens, or other?
Swiss Chalet or Roti?
Neither is fit for humans
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Favourite local Restaurant: