Jay Semko

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Jay Semko
Jay Semko performing live at Five Acre Shaker, August 2016.jpg
Jay Semko performing live in Saskatchewan.
August 19, 2016
Background information
Birth name John Peter Semko
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, bassist
Instruments Bass
Years active 1982–present
Associated acts The Northern Pikes
Website www.jaysemko.com
Notable instruments
Bass, Guitar (Acoustic & Electric), Harmonica

John Peter "Jay" Semko is a singer/songwriter and bassist with Canadian band, The Northern Pikes.[1] He is also a music composer for numerous film and television productions, most notably the successful Canadian television series Due South. Semko has been nominated for a Juno Award eight times as a member of the Northern Pikes, and also been nominated twice for a Gemini Award, and once for a Canadian Screen Award, and received two awards from the Canadian Music Publishers Association for his songwriting. His hometown is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


Semko's first solo album, Mouse was released in 1995 following the (at-that-time) end of The Northern Pikes in late 1993. During this time, Semko was music composer for the Due South (Pilot movie and 66 episodes 1994–1998, with co-composers Jack Lenz and John McCarthy) by (Academy Award winner) Paul Haggis (for which Jay received two nominations for Canada's Gemini Awards - Best Music Score in a Dramatic Series) and has won the MMPIA Blizzard and SMPIA awards for Best Music Score as music composer for the movie, "Paris Or Somewhere" (1994).

Semko has composed music for many other dramas and documentary series on Discovery Channel, CBC, Global, APTN, Showcase, History Television, and others, and has had many of his songs and compositions featured in film and television (Trailer Park Boys - the Movie (2006), "Men With Brooms" (2002), "Being Erica" (2009), and "Cedar Cove"(2015) are some examples). In 2013 Semko was nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards for his work as composer on the reality TV series "Dust Up" in the category of 'Best Original Music for a Non-Fiction Program or Series'.

As a songwriter, Semko has co-written in Nashville and Canada with such writers as Willie Mack, Tim Chaisson, Gilles Godard, Andrew Fromm, Roger Springer, Larry Haack, Jack Lenz, Tim Taylor, Steve Fox, Daryl Burgess, Sean Hogan, Paul Gross, and David Keeley. He has recorded with other artists including Garth Hudson (of The Band), the late Stan Celeste (of Jackson Browne & Crosby, Stills and Nash), John Sebastian (of The Lovin' Spoonful), Crystal Taliefero (of Bruce Springsteen & John Mellencamp), Margo Timmins (of Cowboy Junkies), Bob Egan (of Wilco & Blue Rodeo), Ken Greer, Patricia Conroy, Greg Godovitz, Matt Andersen, Ashley MacIsaac, Leslie Stanwyck, and Serena Ryder. He has toured with such artists as Bruce Hornsby, Robert Palmer, Tom Cochrane and Peter Frampton, to name only a few.

Semko wrote the music for a permanent installation at Saskatchewan's Western Development Museum, as well as for a number of art exhibitions, including visual artist Linda Duvall's "Where Were the Mothers?" and "The Toss". Semko has also been the music producer for a number of albums, including projects by Screwtape Lewis and Punch Drunk Cabaret. Since 2009, Semko has performed at the International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, and toured across Canada both solo acoustic and with accompanying musicians.

Jay has released ten solo albums, firmly establishing him as one of Canada's premiere songwriters - in 2009 Jay was a finalist in the Gospel/Inspirational Category of the internationally acclaimed John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "Jesus Is Gonna Help Me"; in 2011 Jay was nominated as Songwriter of the Year in the Western Canadian Music Awards for "Before You Leave Canada"; in 2012 won the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year ("Force of Horses"), was a finalist in the international Independent Music Awards Gospel Song category for "Drop You In The Water", was nominated in the Best Solo Roots Recording category for "Sending Love" in the Western Canadian Music Awards, as well as being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame with his band mates in the Northern Pikes.

Jay is an accomplished voiceover artist and a full ACTRA member, with his voice being heard on radio and television advertisements, public service announcements, documentaries, and dramas, and has also instructed songwriting courses and hosted songwriting workshops and seminars through the University of Saskatchewan, Songwriters Association of Canada, SOCAN and private clients. Jay has also co-written with many other songwriters in Canada and the USA, and continues to do so regularly.

Jay's latest album, Flora Vista, released on Inner Expression Records, is a rootsy musical road trip through love, loss, spirituality, addiction and recovery - in 2015 "Flora Vista" won the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year. Semko continues to tour, and his solo acoustic concerts are legendary for their laughter, tears, sheer love of music and life.



Year Album
1995 Mouse
2005 Love Will Set You Free (EP)
2006 Redberry
2006 Merry Christmas
2007 Live at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum
2008 International Superstar
2010 Jay Semko
2011 Force of Horses (EP)
2012 Sending Love
2014 Flora Vista


Year Single Chart Positions Album
1995 "Strawberry Girl" 22[2] Mouse
1996 "Times Change" 36[3]
2008 "She Won't Be Lonely Long" International Superstar
2010 "Comeback Kid" Jay Semko
"Let's Wake Up the Moon"
2011 "Nobody's Watching"
"That Kind of Blue"
"Party in the Parking Lot" Force of Horses
2012 "Big Feet Big Shoes"
2013 "Come Get a Little Love" Sending Love
2015 "Only Sometimes" (with Leslie Stanwyck) Flora Vista


  1. ^ Pettipas, Keith. "Biography: Northern Pikes". AMG. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "RPM Adult Contemporary for November 27, 1995". RPM. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "RPM Top Singles for March 4, 1996". RPM. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 

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