Whether you’re scrolling through social media or turning on the radio in your car, you are most likely familiar with the popular music artists of today. But how much do you really know about the musicians on the other side of the speaker? Read on to learn 7 facts about Canadian musicians that you probably didn’t know!
1. Justin Bieber plays four instruments
If you’re not a superfan of Canadian-born artist Justin Bieber, you may not be familiar with just how musically gifted he actually is! Justin Bieber has been one of the most popular artists over the past decade with his sound and music always evolving. But what you may not know about Justin is that he can actually play four different instruments–the piano, drums, guitar, and trumpet! Justin found his passion for music when he was very young with his first guitar lesson starting when he was just 8 years old. Around that same time, he started to pick up skills for the drums, piano, and trumpet as well. Today, Justin regularly shows off his skills during his concerts and fans are always blown away by his musical abilities! He is also a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team and close friend of their star player, Auston Matthews.
2. Drake is not the first musician in his family
According to Billboard, Drake is the number one top artist for the 2010’s (and his 4 Grammy wins and 47 nominations would agree.) But did you know that Drake wasn’t the first musician in his family? Drake’s father, Dennis Graham was a talented musician who played the drums, piano, and guitar. Being from Memphis, Dennis grew up listening to soul and rock music which propelled him to teach himself how to play music (you read that right, he is self-taught!) Dennis ended up playing with several bands throughout his career, most notably with rock ‘n’ roll icon, Jerry Lee Lewis. Drake’s uncle, Larry Grah
am was also a musician who played bass for the legend himself, Prince! With all of these close musical influences, it’s not hard to see how Drake got his passion for music. Drake is also a sports superfan and can be seen in attendance at many Raptors' home games in Toronto.
3. Shawn Mendes got famous on Vine
Toronto native, Shawn Mendes actually rose to fame on the video-sharing app, Vine! If you’re not familiar, Vine was a social media app that allowed you to share quick 6-second looping videos. The app was famous for comedy sketches, dancing, and luckily for Shawn, singing! When he was 14, Shawn started posting short covers of songs from artists like Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. In fact, his first viral video on Vine was posted in 2013 when he covered Justin Bieber’s “As Long as You Love Me.” After this one viral video, Shawn amassed millions of views and countless followers on the app and by August 2014, he was one of the most-followed musicians on Vine. Shortly after his rise to fame on Vine, he was signed by Island Records and the rest is history!
4. The Weeknd is trilingual
We all know how talented The Weeknd is by now, but would you have guessed his skills go beyond the world of music? While The Weeknd grew up right outside of Toronto, he is the son of Ethiopian immigrants and lived in an area populated with fellow East Africans in addition to people from India, the Caribbean, and the Middle East! Growing up with his mom and grandmother, his first language was Ethiopian Amharic as his family members did not speak English. As he grew older in Canada and started watching television, The Weeknd was able to learn how to speak English. When he started school, he attended a French-immersion school where he was only allowed to speak French. And that’s how this Toronto-born artist is fluent in three different languages!
5. Alessia Cara’s interest in music started with a birthday gift
Alessia Cara is a Canadian singer who got her start in the industry when she was just 13 years old but her passion for music started a few years prior. When Alessia turned 10, her parents gifted her a guitar that she quickly became obsessed with playing. For the first few years, Alessia kept her music to herself until she started to perform in talent shows at her school. A few years later, Alessia (like Shawn Mendes) started posting cover songs online to her YouTube channel. One of the videos got noticed by the daughter of a record executive who ended up showing it to her dad. This executive let Alessia have studio time to write and record her music which is how she got her start! Alessia later became Canada’s first best new artist Grammy winner in 2018.
6. Neil Young shared an apartment with Rick James
Neil Young and Rick James are two of music’s most famous names but did you know that the pair lived together briefly in 1966? Yep, you read that right! Although Neil is known for his rock sound and Rick for his funk, the two were actually in the same R&B band for a short period of time called The Mynah Birds. This group blended R&B with rock ‘n’ roll and took inspiration from The Rolling Stones. During this musical stint, Neil Young and Rick James shared an apartment together in Toronto. Although Neil has a hard time remembering the hazy time spent together all these years later, it’s crazy to think how these two solo artists who had such a huge impact on the music industry lived together at one time!
7. Shania Twain’s music was played in space
It’s every artist’s dream to become popular on planet Earth, but up in space? That’s a whole new milestone and one that Canadian artist, Shania Twain, got to experience! In 2007, astronaut Dave Williams used Shania’s song “Up!” to wake him while he was aboard the International Space Station. If that wasn’t crazy enough for you, just 6 years prior another group of astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis chose to wake up to Shania’s song “Honey, I’m Home!” If humans choose to live on another planet in the future, maybe Shania Twain will be the new number 1 artist!
Ready to become the next big Toronto-based musician? We’d love to welcome you here at Greater Toronto Music School for guitar, drum, piano, or singing lessons (and so much more!) Reach out to us today to learn more about our offerings for music lessons in Toronto!