Barbra Amesbury

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Barbra Amesbury
Born 1948 (age 69–70)
Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s) Philanthropist, singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker
Years active 1970s–present

Barbra Amesbury (born 1948 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario) is a Canadian philanthropist, singer-songwriter, composer and filmmaker, who had several Top 40 hits in Canada in the 1970s as Bill Amesbury before coming out as transsexual. Amesbury is the long-time partner of Canadian philanthropist Joan Chalmers.[1]


Amesbury's biggest hit was "Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)",[2] which was also the first single (1974) to be released on the Casablanca Records label. The song was written by Amesbury.

"Can You Feel It" was also a minor hit in 1976. Amesbury's "Nothin' But a Fool" has been covered by Natalie Cole, and "A Thrill's a Thrill" was recorded in 1979 by Long John Baldry[3] and covered by Mitch Ryder with Marianne Faithfull[4] and John Cougar.

In 1976 and 1977, Amesbury produced "No Charge" by J.J. Barrie, which became a number one hit in England.[citation needed] In 1999, "Virginia" was given an award by SOCAN to mark 100,000 spins on Canadian radio stations.[citation needed]

In 2002, James Collins and Dave Pickell released the single "Do You Mind If We Talk About Bill?", which was written about Amesbury.[5]

Filmmaking and art[edit]

In 1994, Amesbury and her partner Joan Chalmers organized an art exhibition called Survivors, In Search of a Voice: The Art of Courage, using the stories of breast cancer survivors to inspire 24 women artists to create works of art aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer.[6][7] The exhibition toured throughout North America from 1995 to 1998, accompanied by a companion book.[8][9] Amesbury also shot a documentary film of the tour.

In 2006 and 2007, her documentary film The G8 is Coming...The G8 is Coming was an official selection of the Rome International Film Festival, the Ashville Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Southern Winds Film Festival, and the Dixie Film Festival.[citation needed]

Amesbury and Chalmers have provided support and donations to a variety of charities and organizations through their Woodlawn Arts Foundation.[10]


  • Jus' a Taste of the Kid (1974 - album)
  • Can You Feel It (1976 - album)
  • "You Belong to Me", b/w "Harlow" (1977 - single, unavailable on any commercially released album)
  • "Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do" (1974 - single)
  • "Can You Feel It" (1976 - single)
  • "Nothin' But a Fool" - composer
  • "No Charge" - producer
  • "A Thrill's a Thrill" - composer


  1. ^ "Canadian arts philanthropist Joan Chalmers dies at 88". Pop Goes the News, December 5, 2016
  2. ^ Paul Myers (2007). It Ain't Easy: Long John Baldry and the Birth of the British Blues. Greystone Books Ltd. pp. 195–. ISBN 978-1-55365-200-7. 
  3. ^ "Resurrecting Long John Baldry". Daily Extra, Dec 20, 2007
  4. ^ James A. Mitchell (2008). It was All Right: Mitch Ryder's Life in Music. Wayne State University Press. pp. 157–. ISBN 0-8143-3337-0. 
  5. ^ Adams, Jane (2002-06-22), "Song About Bill", Toronto Globe and Mail 
  6. ^ "Art on the Front Lines: Barbra Amesbury speaks out on breast cancer, art and activism", Wild Ideas, 1995
  7. ^ "The Art of Surviving: A hard-hitting exhibit brings reality of breast cancer home", 1995
  8. ^ C International Contemporary Art. C magazine. 1996. p. 15. 
  9. ^ "The Art of Survival". Las Vegas Sun, Anne Hosier, July 24, 1997
  10. ^ "Joan Chalmers: in the service of art". Canada Council, by Betty Ann Jordan