The Creation of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) was founded by music publisher Frank Davies in 1998.
Throughout a long career in music, principally as a record producer and music publisher, Frank Davies has been motivated and inspired – first and foremost – by the work, craft, and talent of songwriters.
The idea to create a hall of fame to celebrate Canadian songwriters was actually ‘conceived’ inadvertently while serving on the board of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS) in the mid-eighties. Davies was the organization’s first music publisher appointee and the voice for songwriters and publishers amongst the group of music industry professionals that oversees Canada’s Juno Awards. At one of the board meetings, a presentation was made by Tom Sandler, the son of songwriter Ruth Lowe, who wrote Frank Sinatra’s very first #1 hit, song I’ll Never Smile Again. Lowe had recently died and her son was hoping she would be inducted posthumously into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (CMHF).
The CARAS board, though sympathetic to Sandler’s cause, concluded that it was not in a position to recognize the careers of songwriters at that time. CARAS’ primary focus was on the recent as well as lifetime achievements, in the case of CMHF, of recording artists and their works.
This meeting left a strong impression on Davies. After 15 years of living in Canada and being very familiar with Lowe’s song, he had no idea that the songwriter was a Canadian. And among his peers in the music industry, he was not alone. “I came away believing that there must be many other Canadian songwriters from our past and not-so-distant past whose songs may be equally as well known but whose lives and careers were not.”
Davies decided that establishing a non-profit, bilingual, apolitical and national ‘Hall of Fame’ was the only way to effectively deal with this lack of public and industry recognition of Canadian songwriters. With initial funding from Davies and his company, and then the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and its member companies and individuals, the CSHF/PACC was founded in 1998. Shortly thereafter, the Songwriters Association of Canada (S.A.C.) was invited and agreed to become a partner in the venture. In late 2002, the Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec (SPACQ) joined the CSHF with a goal to provide their particular expertise and guidance in celebrating the achievements of Canada’s Francophone songwriters. Davies spent the five years leading up to the inaugural gala in 2003 bringing all factions of the music industry together in a non-partisan effort to provide financial support for the CSHF. A further six annual broadcast galas followed, with the most recent airing in April 2011.
SOCAN Moves to Strengthen Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
In December 2011, at the instigation and urging of former CSHF Chairmen Frank Davies and Peter Steinmetz, SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) acquired the CSHF. The Hall of Fame’s mandate aligns with SOCAN’s objectives as a songwriter and publisher membership-based organization championing the work of its members coast to coast. SOCAN’s support and involvement in the CSHF ensures that the Hall of Fame will be able to continue to honour the achievements of Francophone and Anglophone songwriters, and to celebrate this rich and unique musical heritage for many years to come. The CSHF continues to be run as a separate organization with its own board of directors.