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Barbra Amesbury

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Barbra Amesbury
Born1948 (age 75–76)
Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
Occupation(s)Philanthropist, singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker
Years active1970s–present

Barbra Amesbury (born 1948) is a Canadian philanthropist, singer-songwriter, composer and filmmaker, who had several Top 40 hits in Canada in the 1970s. Amesbury was the long-time partner of Canadian philanthropist Joan Chalmers until her death in 2016.[1]

Known as Bill Amesbury during her active musical career, Amesbury came out as transgender after leaving the music business.[2]


Amesbury's biggest hit was "Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)",[3] which was also the first single (1974) to be released on the Casablanca Records label, reaching #14 in Canada.[4] Written by Amesbury, the song also reached No. 59 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart[5] and #8 on Toronto's CHUM Chart.[6] "Rock My Roll" reached #94 in Canada later in 1974.[7]

"Can You Feel It" was also a minor hit in 1976. The title album reached #57 in Canada.[8] 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[9] and covered by Mitch Ryder with Marianne Faithfull[10] 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.[2]

Filmmaking and art

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.[11][12] The exhibition toured throughout North America from 1995 to 1998, accompanied by a companion book.[13][14] 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.[15]


  • 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" Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Pop Goes the News, December 5, 2016
  2. ^ a b Adams, James (June 2, 2002). "Weekend Diary: The Story Behind the Song About Bill". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  3. ^ 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. Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  4. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - April 13, 1974" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Bill Amesbury". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 10, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  6. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - March 9, 1974".
  7. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - September 14, 1974" (PDF).
  8. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums - July 24, 1976" (PDF).
  9. ^ "Resurrecting Long John Baldry" Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Daily Extra, December 20, 2007
  10. ^ James A. Mitchell (2008). It was All Right: Mitch Ryder's Life in Music. Wayne State University Press. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-0-8143-3337-2. Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  11. ^ "Art on the Front Lines: Barbra Amesbury speaks out on breast cancer, art and activism" Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Wild Ideas, 1995
  12. ^ "The Art of Surviving: A hard-hitting exhibit brings reality of breast cancer home" Archived December 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, 1995
  13. ^ C International Contemporary Art. C magazine. 1996. p. 15. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Art of Survival" Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Las Vegas Sun, Anne Hosier, July 24, 1997
  15. ^ "Joan Chalmers: in the service of art" Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Canada Council, by Betty Ann Jordan