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Ron Sexsmith

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Ron Sexsmith
Ron Sexsmith wearing a striped shirt, playing an acoustic guitar and singing into a microphone onstage
Sexsmith in 2011
Background information
Birth nameRonald Eldon Sexsmith
Born (1964-01-08) January 8, 1964 (age 60)
St. Catharines, Canada
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1978–present
LabelsWarner Bros.

Ronald Eldon Sexsmith (born January 8, 1964) is a Canadian singer-songwriter from St. Catharines, Ontario.[1] He was the songwriter of the year at the 2005 Juno Awards.[2] He began releasing recordings of his own material in 1985 at age 21, and has since recorded seventeen albums. He was the subject of a 2010 documentary called Love Shines.[3]

Early life[edit]

Sexsmith grew up in St. Catharines and started his own band when he was 14 years old.[4]


Sexsmith was seventeen when he started playing at a bar, the Lion's Tavern, in his hometown. He gained a reputation as "The One-Man Jukebox" for his aptitude in playing requests. However, he gradually began to include original songs and more obscure music, which his audience did not favour.[1] He decided to start writing songs after the birth of his first child[5] in 1985. That same year, still living in St. Catharines, he collaborated on recording and releasing a cassette, Out of the Duff, with a singer-songwriter friend named Claudio. Side one of the cassette contained five songs written and performed by Sexsmith; side two featured Claudio.[6]

A year later, Sexsmith and his family moved to Toronto, living in an apartment in the Beaches neighbourhood. Sexsmith recorded and released the full-length cassette There's a Way, which was produced by Kurt Swinghammer.[7][1] Meanwhile, he worked as a courier and befriended Bob Wiseman, whom he met at an open stage. They became friends, and Wiseman agreed to produce and arrange Sexsmith's next release in between his tours with the band Blue Rodeo. Because of Wiseman's busy schedule, work on the album stretched out over several years.

After the album Grand Opera Lane was rejected by several Canadian labels, the pair released it independently in 1991. Grand Opera Lane was credited to "Ron Sexsmith and the Uncool"; the backing band including Don Kerr and Steve Charles, and also featured Sarah McElcheran (horn arrangements) and Kim Ratcliffe on electric guitar. Attention garnered by the song "Speaking with the Angel", Sexsmith earned a contract that led to his self-titled album in 1995. The record was praised by Elvis Costello, for whom Sexsmith later opened.[8]

Sexsmith in November 2010

Between 1997 and 2001, Sexsmith released three more albums, and then Cobblestone Runway in 2002.[7] Retriever, his next album, is a more pop-oriented album and is dedicated to Elliott Smith and Johnny Cash. Sexsmith performed in the Toronto area in support of these albums.[9]

On May 1, 2001, Sexsmith performed "Just My Heart Talkin'" on the BBC's Later... with Jools Holland musical showcase, alongside R.E.M., Orbital, India.Arie, and Clearlake. Holland backed him on piano. It was his second appearance on the show. He began to have some radio success, particularly on Canadian adult-oriented radio.[citation needed]

In 2002, Sexsmith recorded a cover version of "This Is Where I Belong", the title track for a tribute album called This Is Where I Belong – The Songs of Ray Davies and the Kinks, which included contributions from Damon Albarn, Bebel Gilberto, and Queens of the Stone Age, among others. In 2006, he performed at the Halifax Pop Explosion.[10] In 2004, he performed at the RuhrTriennale in the concert series Century of Song hosted by Bill Frisell.

On June 16, 2011, Sexsmith and his band performed The Kinks' song "Misfits" with Ray Davies at the Meltdown Festival in London, England. The same year, he won a songwriter of the year Juno Award for "Whatever It Takes"[11] and a Canadian Indy Award.[12] The album Long Player Late Bloomer was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Sexsmith's 14th full-length album, Carousel One, was released in March 2015.

In 2017, Sexsmith published his debut novel, Deer Life, through Dundurn Press. It was well received and Publishers Weekly wrote that the "novel has much the same effect as his music, conveying uncertainty with fearlessness and heart."[13]

In February 2024, Sexsmith staged a retrospective concert at Toronto's Massey Hall.[14]

Collaborations and covers[edit]

Sexsmith has collaborated with many artists. In 2002, he sang a duet with Coldplay's Chris Martin in the song "Gold in Them Hills", which appeared as a bonus track on the album Cobblestone Runway. Sexsmith sang on "An Elephant Insect", which appears on the 2003 Shonen Knife album Heavy Songs. In 2005, he released a collection of songs recorded with drummer Don Kerr during the production of Retriever, called Destination Unknown. Also in 2005, Sexsmith sang on the track "Song No. 6" by Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brun, which appeared on her album A Temporary Dive and again on her Duets album later the same year. In 2006, he performed a duet of "So Long Marianne" with Leonard Cohen in Yorkville, Toronto. In 2014, he wrote and sang a duet together with Dutch singer-songwriter Marike Jager, the song "Don't you", featured on her album The Silent Song.

Sexsmith's songs have been performed and recorded by a number of well-known musicians, including Elvis Costello, Feist, Rod Stewart, and Emmylou Harris[15] His song "Secret Heart" has been covered by Rod Stewart, Feist, and Nick Lowe. Sexsmith co-wrote "Brandy Alexander" with Feist—versions appear on Sexsmith's Exit Strategy of the Soul and on Feist's album The Reminder. A version of Sexsmith's "Whatever It Takes" appeared on Michael Bublé's 2009 album Crazy Love.[citation needed]

In 2004, fellow Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang covered Sexsmith's song "Fallen" on her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

In 2010, Sexsmith appeared on "Liberace", a track off the album Vaudeville by Canadian rapper D-Sisive. In 2012 his song "Gold in them Hills" was included on Katie Melua's album Secret Symphony, and "Right About Now" was covered by Mari Wilson on the album "Cover Stories".

In 2012, Sexsmith appeared on Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe, a Nick Lowe tribute album, where he covered Lowe's 1994 song "Where's My Everything?"[16]

Sexsmith sang the lead vocals on a song from Ryan Granville-Martin's 2013 album, Mouthparts and Wings, which features a different vocalist on each song.[17]

Sexsmith was featured on vocals on the Mel Parsons song "Don't Wait" from her 2015 album Drylands.[18]


Sexsmith published a book on September 16, 2017, called Deer Life. It has been described as a "grown up fairy tale" by Sexsmith himself. It is the artist's first effort as an author.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Sexsmith has two children with his former common-law partner.[20] Their fifteen-year relationship ended in 2001.[21]

Sexsmith's wife, Colleen Hixenbaugh, is also a musician. She is a former member of By Divine Right, half of the duo Jack and Ginger,[22] and the duo Colleen and Paul, with Paul Linklater.



Other contributions[edit]

  • 1995: For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson – "Good Ol' Desk"
  • 1999: Bleecker Street: Greenwich Village in the 60's – "Reason to Believe"
  • 2002: This Is Where I Belong – The Songs of Ray Davies & The Kinks – "This Is Where I Belong"
  • 2002: WYEP Live and Direct: Volume 4 – On Air Performances – "Just My Heart Talking"
  • 2002: Maybe This Christmas – "Maybe This Christmas"
  • 2003: Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot – "Drifters"
  • 2004: Beautiful Dreamer – The Songs of Stephen Foster – "Comrades Fill No Glass for Me"
  • 2006: Our Power – "Love Henry" (with Don Kerr)
  • 2008: Northern Songs: Canada's Best and Brightest – "All in Good Time"
  • 2008: Redeye 2008 Holiday Sampler – "Something to Hold on to (At Christmas)"
  • 2009: Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill – "Crayon Angel"
  • 2009: Crazy Love – "Whatever It Takes" (with Michael Buble)
  • 2011: Harrison Covered: MOJO presents an Exclusive Tribute to George – "Give Me Love" (15-song CD given away free with MOJO magazine November 2011 issue)
  • 2011: This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark – "Broken Hearted People"
  • 2012: Textuality OST – "Since I Don't Have You"
  • 2012: Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe – "Where's My Everything"

The Kelele Brothers[edit]

  • Escape from Bover County (Gas Station Recordings)
  • Has-Beens & Wives (Gas Station Recordings)


  1. ^ a b c Steven Wilcock. "Ron Sexsmith interview – Triste Magazine". Triste.co.uk. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  2. ^ "2005 | Songwriter of the Year (Sponsored by SiriusXM Canada) | Ron Sexsmith |". The JUNO Awards. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  3. ^ Perusse, Bernard (March 2, 2011). "Montreal Gazette". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved March 10, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Ron Sexsmith Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved May 30, 2024.
  5. ^ Randy Krbechek. "Metronews Music Reviews". Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2008.
  6. ^ Wood, Arthur (2008). "Ron Sexsmith – Bio". Texas Tech University Southwest Collection / Special Collections Library. Kerrville Kronikles.
  7. ^ a b " Ron Sexsmith". Biography by Jason Ankeny
  8. ^ "Ron Sexsmith's Beautiful View". Rolling Stone. June 9, 1999. Archived from the original on November 14, 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ Burland, Chris. "On the Road Again Live Reviews: Ron Sexsmith with Emm Gryner November 17, 1999 Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, Toronto, ON". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on 30 January 2000. Retrieved 22 February 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ "Halifax Pop Explosion October 30 to November 1 - Halifax, NS". Exclaim!, January 1, 2006, by Matt Charlton, Susana Ferreira and Tara Thorne
  11. ^ "Billy Talent, Avril, k-os win big at Junos". CBC News. April 4, 2005.
  12. ^ LeBlanc, Larry (February 21, 1998). "McLachlan at top of Juno nominations". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 14–. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  13. ^ "Deer Life: A Fairy Tale". Publishers Weekly. October 2017. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "Ron Sexsmith Returns to Toronto's Massey Hall for Career-Spanning Retrospective". exclaim.ca. October 1, 2023. Retrieved March 2, 2024.
  15. ^ "Ron Sexsmith in Concert : NPR Music". Npr.org. January 12, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  16. ^ "Lowe Country: The Songs of Nick Lowe". AllMusic. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Doole, Kerry (September 5, 2013). "Ryan Granville-Martin – Mouthparts and Wings • Pop & Rock Reviews •". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  18. ^ Mel Parsons Music (October 25, 2016), Mel Parsons | 'Don't Wait' feat. Ron Sexsmith, retrieved May 14, 2019
  19. ^ Deer Life
  20. ^ "A master of restraint". Sydney Morning Herald. August 18, 2004. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  21. ^ "Ron Sexsmith: Cobblestone Runway – PopMatters Music Review". Popmatters.com. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  22. ^ "Ron Sexsmith: Ron Sexsmith Talks on 'Time Being' and Songwriting: Soul Shine Magazine". Soulshine.ca. July 27, 2006. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  23. ^ Feature and interview with Ron Sexmith. Metro Morning, CBC Radio One, also Our Toronto, CBC television, broadcast April 6, 2015.

External links[edit]