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Christopher Ward and Alannah Myles with an award
Alannah Myles and Christopher Ward (Library & Archives Canada)

1990's Billboard Chart Topper “Black Velvet” joins the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

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Alannah Myles’ iconic hit co-written by David Tyson and Christopher Ward to be inducted June 10th on Global’s The Morning Show
Virtual induction presentation will feature an exclusive rendition by Serena Ryder and Damhnait Doyle performed with Christopher Ward

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is pleased to announce the newest song induction honouring the powerful blues-rock ballad, Black Velvet that catapulted Alannah Myles to the top echelon of popularity and music success. Black Velvet was written specifically for Myles by songwriters, David Tyson and Christopher Ward who will be presented with the song induction by the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday June 10th on Global’s The Morning Show. 

“Having Black Velvet inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame is an incredible honour and a testament to the power of a song. I continue to be amazed at how many lives it has touched,” says co-songwriter Christopher Ward.

The virtual presentation will include an exclusive video recording by award-winning artists, Serena Ryder and Damhnait Doyle performing Black Velvet with Ward and will be available on the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame website (cshf.ca).

“We’re thrilled that Damhnait and Serena are lending their incredible talents to join Christopher in paying tribute to an incredible hit that has transcended time and genre,” said Vanessa Thomas, CSHF executive director. “Black Velvet is an example of song writing at its very best and Alannah’s sultry vocals took Christopher and David’s Memphis-inspired song to the next level, where one can actually feel the heat.”

Written with Myles in mind, the idea for Black Velvet was sparked by a trip to Memphis a few years prior, for the 10th anniversary of Elvis’s death. Ward, a renowned MuchMusic VJ at the time, was on a music assignment with a group of Elvis fans and was inspired to write a song that evoked the passion he witnessed.

Once home, Tyson and Ward began working on Myles’ debut album. As Ward recalls during the song writing process, “For me, every song has a key line that unlocks the rest of it. With Black Velvet, it was ‘a new religion that’ll bring you to your knees.’ That new religion was rock n’ roll.” 

 Myles put her stamp on the song with her distinctive raw and gritty vocals that were powerful, yet at times soft and playful. Released in July 1989, Black Velvet quickly skyrocketed on the charts reaching No. 1 on the Cashbox chart, Billboard’s Hot 100, then mainstream rock charts by early 1990. The album sold 1.2 million copies in Canada, making Alannah Myles the first female artist to achieve Diamond status in Canada. The song swept the 1990 JUNO Awards, garnering Tyson and Ward the Composer of the Year Award. Myles’s recording won the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, topping heavyweight nominees including Janet Jackson and Tina Turner.

Black Velvet was declared a SOCAN Classic in 2004 and became a blockbuster megahit — one of the most-requested songs on radio — and since, widely covered by the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Melissa Etheridge, Cali Tucker, JUNO winner Meghan Patrick and others. It continues to reach new audiences today, with more than 150 million streams on Spotify.

More than 30 years after its release, Ward has recorded his own soulful version of Black Velvet in a new, self-penned and deeply introspective album, Same River Twice released May 28 through Wardworks / Warner Music Canada. Having written for top artists including The Backstreet Boys, Colin James, Wynonna Judd, Anne Murray, Amanda Marshall, Peter Cetera and Diana Ross — as well as for television — Ward has journeyed back to his song writing and creative process with new music, playfully describing it as a ‘coming-of-age’ album.

“The creation of the album was a process of rediscovery, like falling in love again,” Ward explains. “It is deeply personal, nostalgic, romantic and at times wistful, featuring themes of optimism for a new day, during a bleak time.”

David Tyson and Alannah Myles laughing
David Tyson and Alannah Myles (Facebook)

 
Ward and Tyson are among the country’s preeminent songwriters on the international stage. Tyson has written for celebrated artists including Celine Dion and has produced for Eddie Schwartz, Amanda Marshall, Heather Rankin and others; he has also won multiple JUNO Awards including Songwriter of the Year for his work with Hall & Oates.

Following the virtual induction presentation airing June 10th on The Morning Show, Black Velvet will take its place in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s permanent home at the National Music Centre in Calgary, which features a celebrated catalogue of inducted songs that fans can listen to in addition to displays, exclusive artifacts and one-of-a-kind memorabilia celebrating Canada’s greatest songwriters and Inductees.

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