Harrison Kennedy
Calgary International Blues Festival (2016)

In 1968 the Detroit POP GROUP "The Chairmen of the Board." played all the top venues including JOHNNY CARSON'S TONIGHT SHOW, SOUL TRAIN and AMERICAN BANDSTAND and ENGLAND'S "TOP-OF-THE-POPS', doing our hit, "Gimme Me Just A Little More Time." C.O.T.B. had performances with B.B. KING, JAMES BROWN, SMOKEY ROBINSON, STEVIE WONDER, FUNKADELICS and more. C.O.T.B. also performed many times at New York's Famous HARLEM'S APOLLO THEATRE.

AWARDS:

The Reverend John C. Holland Arts and Culture Award in 1998.

FIRST JUNO Nomination for best original blues album SWEET TASTE (2004).

SECOND JUNO Nomination for VOICE & STORY (2006).

THIRD JUNO Nomination for HIGH COUNTRY BLUES (2008)

FOURTH JUNO Nomination for SHAME THE DEVIL (2012)

15 MAPLE BLUES Award Nominations for Best Acoustic act, Male Vocalist, Producer, and Writer of the Year. (2006-2008-2009-2010-2012)

Won BLUES Album of the Year at the HAMILTON MUSIC AWARDS, Sweet Taste, Voice/Story and High Country Blues.

1ST Runner up at the 2011 International BLUES CHALLENGE IN MEMPHIS TENNESSEE

Released on Electro-Fi Records ONE DOG BARKIN, has received great reviews in Boston's DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE ... LIVING BLUES ... The UK's MOJO ... FRANCE'S SOUL BAG ... and Italy's IL BLUES magazines.

DOWNBEAT REVIEW

Harrison Kennedy - Canada's Blues Chairman

Hamilton, Ontario, may seem an unlikely blues enclave, but Harrison Kennedy has always made the locale work for him. No less than B.B. King has hailed Kennedy as Canada's premier blues performer. Based for decades in this port and industrial centre on Lake Ontario, the 60 something vocalist-guitarist is moving south of the border with a distinctive new album,ONE DOG BARKIN Blues (Electro-Fi)

If the North Country seems a culture apart from the Deep South or industrial cities of the United States, Kennedy said his hometown has fronted a blues tradition of its own. "Hamilton's a blue collar steel worker's town," Kennedy said. "The blues is deeper here."

He also benefitted from having well-placed family. Kennedy's singing and acoustic guitar playing on ONE DOG BARKIN embodies a personal recognition of the blues he heard in Tennessee and the Delta when visiting relatives. "CRY FOR MOTHER AFRICA" has the feel of deep southern blues and African chant with its one-key groove.

Kennedy had some other key guidance, as some of the most storied figures in African-American musical history personally baptized him in 12-bar music. "A lot of entertainers like Billie Holiday and John Lee Hooker would come to town and end up at my house or my aunt's place" Kennedy said. "I heard this music and I thought everybody sounded like that. I thought that was the way you had to sound." By age 15, Kennedy sang in a church and in a blues band. "Blues was breakfast, dinner and supper," he said.

As a college freshman, Kennedy received a phone call that countless aspiring singers only dreamt about. Motown songwriter-producer Eddie Holland asked him to travel to Detroit and audition for a spot in a vocal super group that Holland, his brother Brian and friend Lamont Dozier were forming their post-Motown record label, Invictus. Kennedy wound up singing lead and harmony with The Chairmen of the Board for the quartet's three year run as an international soul sensation. Still he remained loyal to his first musical allegiance.

"My thing in the Chairmen was always the blues, going back to the last tune, 'Weary Traveler,' on our first album, Bittersweet", he said. "Because it was pop it sounds like rock, but even the word rock comes from the blues."

The group's fourth and final release, Skin I'm In (1974), was funk bliss, and Kennedy didn't feel compromised at all. "I worked with Bernie Worrell and all those Parliament-Funkadelic cats on there," he said. "That was the album I felt most comfortable in because I like the funk."

After the Chairmen busted up, Kennedy went home to Hamilton and split his time between working in a chemical factory and playing blues in clubs. His enthusiasm for 12-bar music never flagged. "I decided five years ago to really start writing, and now I have more then 100 songs," he said, with no small amount of pride. "The first blues album I ever put out, Sweet Taste, got nominated for a Juno Award as the best blues album in Canada.



Harrison Kennedy