Jackie Washington was born on November 12, 1919 in Hamilton, ON., the second oldest of 13 children. He began performing at age 5 and over his almost 90 years gave untold happiness to thousands of people across Canada. Right after the Second World War he became Canada’s first black disc jockey. He had a repertoire of over 1,256 songs as well as a remarkable memory for people, places, birthdays and trains among many other things. His song “Alone In The Dark” from the Juno nominated recording he made with Mose Scarlett and Ken Whiteley, was selected by the Canada Council as one of the songs honoured to mark 100 years of recorded music in Canada. He was a living connection to early African Canadian music, the swing era and much more. He received many awards and honours including an Honorary Doctorate from McMaster U., but it was his positive attitude to life that really made him so loved.
Jackie earned a Juno nomination and was inducted into Hamilton’s Gallery of Distinction in 1995 and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame in 2002. Join us at the musical celebration of the Hamilton-born Jackie with Ken Whiteley, Jackie’s niece Shawn Washington-Purser, Luckystickz and the Stewart Memorial Church Choir on Thursday, November 14, 12pm-2pm at the Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton Room.
We’ll also be celebrating Jackie’s life and music with a special afternoon concert with Sneezy Waters, Chris Whiteley, John Sheard, Victor Bateman and Ken Whiteley on Sunday, November 17 at Hugh’s Room Live. This concert will celebrate the release of “The World Of Jackie Washington”, a new cd of 22 unreleased performances with contributions from Colin Linden, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Mose Scarlett, Graham Townsend, Reg Schwager and producer Ken Whiteley, and the package also includes the documentary DVD, “I Want To Be Happy”.
The legendary Sneezy Waters is another national treasure. From his early years performing with the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Susan Jains and many others to “His Excellent Band” with which he toured to every province and territory in the 1970’s. He is perhaps most well known for his title role in Hank Williams – The Show He Never Gave, which toured across Canada, the United States and Europe. He won the Best Actor award at the 3e Festival du Film Musical in Grenoble, France for his role in the film version of the Hank show. An expression of his long friendship with Jackie Washington including getting Jackie to appear in the film and sing “Mind Your Own Business”.
Chris Whiteley has carved a unique path playing trumpet and swing music in the folk world, making a mark as a songwriter in the blues world and is most often seen performing these days with his wife, the wonderful singer Diana Braithwaite. Chris has won multiple Maple Blues Awards as a horn player, songwriter and winner of the Blues With A Feeling Lifetime Achievement honour. He played with Jackie Washington many times, including on most of his recordings and embodies that positive attitude to life.
John Sheard was one of Jackie Washington’s favourite piano players with his imaginative sensitivity, his profound knowledge of older jazz styles, his technical expertise and his good humour. For most of Stuart MacLean’s long run with the Vinyl Cafe, John was the musical director and band leader and in that role performed hundreds of radio shows and live concerts in every part of Canada. John is an accomplished record producer and session musician. Look for the twinkle in his eye as he tinkles the ivories.
Victor Bateman is a highly accomplished string bass player. He has led his own contemporary jazz ensembles, large improvised music groups and along with the late Justin Haynes and David Baxter, Another Country, a wacky group that pushed the envelope of country music. He’s recorded with many people including the Whiteley Brothers and he currently tours with Murray MacLachlan. Victor plays bass on most of the tracks on “The World Of Jackie Washington”.