Sexsmith in 2011
|Birth name||Ronald Eldon Sexsmith|
8 January 1964 |
St. Catharines, Ontario Canada
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Songwriter, and Author|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, piano|
|Associated acts||The Uncool
The Kelele Brothers
Ronald Eldon "Ron" Sexsmith (born 8 January 1964) is a Canadian singer-songwriter from St. Catharines, Ontario. He was the songwriter of the year at the 2002 Juno Awards. He began releasing recordings of his own melancholic pop material in 1985 at age 21, and has since recorded fifteen albums. He was the subject of a 2010 documentary called Love Shines.
Sexsmith grew up in St. Catharines and started his own band when he was 14 years old.
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 for playing requests. However, he gradually began to include original songs and more obscure music which his audience did not favour. He decided to start writing songs after the birth of his first child 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.
A year later, Sexsmith and his family moved to Toronto, living in an apartment in The Beaches neighbourhood. Still in 1986, Sexsmith recorded and released the full-length cassette There's a Way, which was produced by Kurt Swinghammer. 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 was Don Kerr and Steve Charles, and also featured Sarah McElcheran (horn arrangements) and Kim Ratcliffe on electric guitar. On the strength of this album, and the attention garnered by the song "Speaking with the Angel", Sexsmith earned a contract which led to his self-titled album in 1995. The album was praised by Elvis Costello, for whom Sexsmith later opened.
Between 1997 and 2001, Sexsmith released three more albums, and then Cobblestone Runway in 2002. Retriever, his next album, is a more pop-oriented album and is dedicated to Elliott Smith and Johnny Cash. In 2004, he performed at the RuhrTriennale in the concert series Century of Song hosted by Grammy Award-winner Bill Frisell.
On 1 May 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.
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, and including contributions from Damon Albarn, Bebel Gilberto and Queens of the Stone Age, among others. On 16 June 2011 Sexsmith and his band performed the Kinks' song "Misfits" with Ray Davies at the Meltdown Festival in London, England.
Sexsmith's 14th full-length work, the album Carousel One, was released in March, 2015.
Collaborations and covers
Sexsmith has collaborated with many artists. 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 featured 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, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Steve Earle, and Sheryl Crow. 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.
In 2004, fellow Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang covered Sexsmith's song "Fallen" on her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel. He also wrote the title song of Emmylou Harris' 2011 album, Hard Bargain.
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".
Sexsmith has a book that will be released on September 16, 2017, called Deer Life. It has been described as a "grown up fairy tail" by Sexsmith himself. Deer Life is Sexsmith's first effort as an author.
As well as being a critically acclaimed songwriter and musician, Sexsmith has a healthy group of world class musicians who appreciate his work including Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Chris Martin, Elton John, Ray Davies, Steve Earle, Bob Rock, and Sheryl Crow. Ron also has a loyal fanbase called the Ronheads.
His first five albums are generally melancholic pop folk with elegant melodies, accentuated use of guitars and economic application of other instruments. On his sixth album, Cobblestone Runway, producer Martin Terefe supplemented this style with, among other things, synthesizers, back-up singers, gospel choirs, and string sections. Long Player Late Bloomer is considered his most pop-influenced album, which also happens to be his most commercially successful. His two latest albums, Carousel One and The Last Rider are more rock and roll albums that take Sexsmith back to the music of his childhood.
- 1986: There's A Way (Self-released cassette)
- 1991: Grand Opera Lane (Linus Entertainment, produced by Bob Wiseman, with The Uncool)
- 1995: Ron Sexsmith (Interscope/Warner, produced by Mitchell Froom & Daniel Lanois)
- 1997: Other Songs (Interscope/Warner)
- 1999: Whereabouts (Interscope/Warner)
- 2001: Blue Boy (Cooking Vinyl, produced by Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy)
- 2002: Cobblestone Runway (Nettwerk, produced by Martin Terefe)
- 2003: Rarities (Linus Entertainment)
- 2004: Retriever (Warner)
- 2005: Destination Unknown (V2, with Don Kerr, released as Sexsmith & Kerr)
- 2006: Time Being (Warner, also released in 2007 by Coppertree Records UK on 180g vinyl)
- 2008: Exit Strategy of the Soul (Yep Roc)
- 2011: Long Player Late Bloomer (Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl)
- 2013: Forever Endeavour (Cooking Vinyl)
- 2015: Carousel One (Compass Records)
- 2017: The Last Rider (Compass Records)
- 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)"
- 2012: Textuality OST – "Since I Don't Have You"
The Kelele Brothers
- Escape from Bover County (Gas Station Recordings)
- Has-Beens & Wives (Gas Station Recordings)
- Steven Wilcock. "Ron Sexsmith interview – Triste Magazine". Triste.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- Perusse, Bernard (2 March 2011). "Montreal Gazette". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- Randy Krbechek. "Metronews Music Reviews". Retrieved 2008-05-22.
- " Ron Sexsmith". Biography by Jason Ankeny
- "Ron Sexsmith's Beautiful View". Rolling Stone. 9 June 1999. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- "Billy Talent, Avril, k-os win big at Junos". CBC News. 4 April 2005.
- Larry LeBlanc (21 February 1998). "McLaughlin at top of Juno nominations". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.: 14–. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Ron Sexsmith in Concert : NPR Music". Npr.org. 12 January 2007. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- Doole, Kerry (5 September 2013). "Ryan Granville-Martin – Mouthparts and Wings • Pop & Rock Reviews •". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
- VIFF: World Premiere of Love Shines, VanMusic
- "Ron Sexsmith: Cobblestone Runway – PopMatters Music Review". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- "A master of restraint". Sydney Morning Herald. 18 August 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
- "Ron Sexsmith : Ron Sexsmith Talks on 'Time Being' and Songwriting : Soul Shine Magazine". Soulshine.ca. 27 July 2006. Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- Feature and interview with Ron Sexmith. Metro Morning, CBC Radio One, also Our Toronto, CBC television, broadcast April 6, 2015.
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