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BRUCE COCKBURN RECEIVES Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award – video

29 May 2014 – Bruce Cockburn has been honoured with the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award on May 7, 2014, at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala in Toronto, during Canadian Music Week. Throughout his forty year-plus career, Bruce has expressed his core beliefs through his songs, philanthropy, social activism and support for humanitarian causes. This is evident in songs like “If I Had A Rocket Launcher“, “Call It Democracy” and “Lovers In A Dangerous Time“, his activism alongside The David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, OXFAM, Friends of the Earth and others, along with his performances in aid of such groups as UNICEF, Bring Leonard Peltier Home, and Music Without Borders.

This honour, following a Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, an Order of Canada induction and 13 Juno Awards, including being named the Sustainability Ambassador for the 2013 JUNO Awards, Is an expression of the respect that Bruce has earned both nationally and internationally, as he continues to “kick at the darkness, till it bleeds daylight.”

Here is the video of Bruce receiving this award and his speech .. do give it a listen.
“There’s only one boat and we’re all in it together.”

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Bruce Cockburn | Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award

Canadian Music Week

May 2014 – Canadian Music Week is pleased to announce acclaimed Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn as the 2014 recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. The award – bestowed to the singer/songwriter in recognition of his social activism and benevolent support of humanitarian interests and causes – will be presented in Toronto on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards gala held during Canadian Music Week 2014.

“My Father Allan and I have both respected Bruce Cockburn as an artist and humanist since his early coffeehouse days,” said Gary Slaight. ”His philanthropy and compassion for charitable issues is commendable and something all of us should strive to emulate – even if on a personal level. Bruce has long been deserving of such an award and recognition, and we are thrilled to see his efforts honoured this year.as the recipient of the Allan Slaight humanitarian award.”

“It seems to me that if we accept that it’s appropriate to love our neighbour, whether as people of faith or as people just trying to live well, then we all need to do whatever we can to look out for that neighbour’s welfare,” said Bruce Cockburn. ”I’m very honoured to be chosen as the recipient of the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. I hope the existence of the award will help to inspire ever greater numbers of people in the music community to throw their support behind the many ongoing efforts to make this world better.”


Bruce Cockburn is living in Frisco

May 6, 2014 – These days Bruce Cockburn has settled in San Francisco. For a long-wandering troubadour, it’s a good place to land.

The climate is pretty nice and his wife and child live there too.

That doesn’t mean he’s not touring these days. In fact, the Ottawa-raised singer-songwriter is headed to his hometown in support of a poet.

There is a move afoot to restore the Ontario home of the late poet Al Purdy as a writers’ retreat. The home is in Prince Edward County.

So, Saturday night at Library and Archives Canada, Cockburn will perform in an event that is part of the Spur Festival of art, culture and ideas.

“Al Purdy was a fantastic poet,” said Cockburn. “It’s just nice to be able to be part of anything that has something to do with him.”

Cockburn has a large playbook from which he can draw.

“I have more fun playing whatever is newest usually. Sometimes I have fun discovering a new way of doing an old song that’s more enjoyable. It is the case that people want to hear certain songs. They need to get some of what they want.

But you couldn’t do a show that would offer ony the oldies. You have to mix it up.”

For the Purdy benefit he is just doing a few songs, he says. “I may chose wordier ones because it’s a poetry thing.”

When he thinks of the Purdy project, Cockburn is a bit envious.

“I’d love to have a retreat, but I don’t have any time to retreat anywhere.”

One reason for that is Cockburn, who turns 69 later this month, is the father of a two-year-old girl. And “she is lively.”

Cockburn remarried a few years ago and his wife is American. For a while they lived in New York, but his spouse got a job in San Francisco and the move happened. But he did spend some time commuting from the east to the west by car, no less.

“I liked the drive. I did so much driving across Canada in the ‘80s, I kind of missed it.” But eventually he made the move.


Bruce Cockburn lends his voice to the Collateral Damage Project

Excerpt from: Huffintonpost.ca By Jason MacNeil

November 13, 2014 – Cockburn also continues to lend his voice and name to causes he feels strongly about. Earlier this year, he became involved with the Collateral Damage Project, a cause concerning suicide rates among men in Native or First Nations communities. Cockburn was approached by the organization’s founder Scott Chisholm about bringing awareness to the organization and doing a Public Service Announcement regarding it.

For a long time when I was younger all the people I knew who died were suicides,” he says. “There weren’t that many, maybe half a dozen people I was acquainted with who killed themselves. I’m not sure if I totally agree with the negativity of suicide if you are a cancer victim or if you’re terminally ill with anything and looking forward to years of suffering. As long as it doesn’t come back on your family.

“The big problem with suicide is in all but those circumstances it’s a terribly selfish act. Some of that made it seem like something to get involved with. And, of course, in the Native communities where suicide is a huge social issue, not just a matter of individuals, it’s kind of epidemic. So there’s a real point to try to head it off in that setting too.”


Bruce Cockburn donates his archives to McMaster

May 3, 2013 – The date on the notebook page is April 11, 1983. Bruce Cockburn was in the midst of putting together songs for Stealing Fire, the politically charged album that would finally gain the Canadian musical icon recognition in the United States, lionized by the left and vilified by the right.

You can see that Cockburn returned to this page several times. The handwriting starts off in green ink, but there are edits in black and then blue. Scribbles and deletions criss-cross the page.

On the right-hand side is a hastily scrawled margin, encasing a list of more than 25 words. Each one rhymes with hate.

The page displays no title, but this where Cockburn’s If I Had a Rocket Launcher took shape — at least on paper, the inspiration for the controversial song came two months earlier during a visit to a Guatemalan refugee camp.

The words “shot down” are replaced by the more direct “murdered.” The name of Guatemalan dictator “Rios Montt” is simplified to “generals.”

Surprisingly, the phrase “that son of a bitch would pay” is lined out for “I’d make somebody pay.”

The stricken phrase eventually returns in Cockburn’s final edit to close the song with the chilling “some son of a bitch would die.”

The pocket-sized black book is one of 32 found in the Bruce Cockburn Collection, a new addition to the McMaster University Archives at Mills Memorial Library.

As well as the notebooks, the collection consists of correspondence, recordings, films, scrap books, awards, photos, T-shirts, hats and assorted memorabilia.

Cockburn has even parted with three of his prized guitars — a 12-string Guild, a Little Martin travel guitar, and a handcrafted Manzer with quotations by former Czech president Vaclav Havel and French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard written on its body in silver marker.

In all, the collection takes up 63 boxes of varying size. The carefully prepared catalogue, listing every item, takes up 64 pages.

The correspondence includes letters and acknowledgments from Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave, environmentalist David Suzuki, former cabinet ministers John Crosbie and Lloyd Axworthy, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, singer Anne Murray and former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

It’s the 32 notebooks, however, that form the collection’s core. They cover the years 1969 to 2002 and show how Cockburn’s songs took shape, the outpourings of a creative mind at work. Among the random thoughts and jottings are remnants of poetry, recipes, drawings and doodles, even reminders on how to make overseas phone calls.

“For years, I made a pretty religious practice of carrying around a notebook with me all the time because I found that if I got an idea and I didn’t write it down right away, it was gone,” Cockburn said in an interview Wednesday from his home in San Francisco, where he has recently settled with his wife, MJ, and 18-month-old daughter, Iona.

“It’s like dreams. You tell yourself you’re going to remember that dream, but if too many conversations go by before you get it in writing, you’re not going to remember it.”

Cockburn said McMaster officials first approached him about acquiring his collection in 2009 after the university presented him with an honorary doctorate.

“It’s something I hadn’t given a lot of thought to other than in a very general way. I had been saving all this stuff and at one point I figured I might try to see if somebody was interested in taking it over,” said Cockburn, 67.

“McMaster approached me and asked if I was interested … It’s a major university and they were interested. I figured they would treat it with respect.

“I gave them everything I had collected up until the year 2000, basically. I didn’t give them family photographs and things like that. It’s stuff that is related to my so-called career, however tangentially. There is quite a range of stuff but it all has something to do with my time in the music world.”


Cockburn thanks Mac for taking his ‘mongrel assortment’

May 3, 2013 – Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn was at McMaster University Tuesday night to take part in a celebration of his recent donation of a huge chunk of his personal archives to McMaster University.

Bruce Cockburn and Bernie Finkelstein - McMaster Universary - 7 May 2013 - photo Scott Gardener
Bruce Cockburn and Bernie Finkelstein – McMaster Universary – 7 May 2013

It’s hard to be humble when one of Canada’s top academic institutions enshrines your life’s work alongside collections representing the careers of philosopher Bertrand Russell, and authors Farley Mowat, Margaret Laurence and Pierre Berton.

But Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn managed to be just that Tuesday night at a reception to honour the donation of his personal notebooks, correspondence, recordings, photos and memorabilia to the McMaster University archives.

The Ottawa-born writer of songs such as Lovers in a Dangerous Time and If I Had a Rocket Launcher sat quietly in the front row at Convocation Hall, listening to a string quartet perform instrumental versions his music.

Cockburn, 67, then heard university provost David Wilkinson tell the 180 invited guests and dignitaries assembled there what a significant gift the collection represents to the institution.

Bruce Cockburn - McMaster University 7 May 2013 - photo by Scott Gardener

When called to the stage to say a few words, Cockburn bashfully downplayed the importance of his gift.

“I want to thank McMaster University for graciously accepting all my crap,” joked Cockburn, who is known almost as much for his social activism as for his music.

Cockburn spoke for about 10 minutes, relating anecdotes from a career that spans five decades. He told the audience about the time he brought a shoulder bag filled with unarmed landmines to an anti-mine news conference at Parliament Hill, much to the chagrin of the Centre Block security guards.

“My major regret is that I couldn’t include those landmines in the donation to McMaster,” Cockburn deadpanned. “But I had to give them back.”

During the reception, several artists performed versions of Cockburn’s songs. The rock group Of Gentlemen and Cowards, all of whom are former McMaster students, sang an acoustic version of Wondering Where the Lions Are.

Hamilton’s Tom Wilson sang All the Diamonds and Colin Linden, who flew in from Nashville for the event, sang Anything Anytime Anywhere.

Wilson and Linden are members of the group Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and are longtime friends and collaborators of Cockburn.

Bruce Cockburn McMaster 7 May 2013 photo by Scott Gardener

The Cockburn collection is stored in 63 boxes of varying size in the basement of McMaster’s Mills Memorial Library. It includes correspondence from notable figures such as former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, former cabinet ministers Lloyd Axworthy and John Crosbie, environmentalist David Suzuki, Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and singer Anne Murray.

The collection also includes fan letters, photos, tour shirts, recordings, videos and guitars, all carefully catalogued in a 64-page finders’ guide for researchers.

The core of the archives, however, is found in 32 personal notebooks, in which Cockburn wrote many of his songs, as well as snippets of poetry and day-to-day observations.

The notebooks, which cover the years 1969 to 2002, offer insight into how Cockburn worked his songwriting craft.

“That process is documented in the mongrel assortment of stationery that is now in the hands of McMaster,” he said.

Credit: Cockburn thanks Mac for taking his ‘mongrel assortment by Graham Rockingham – thespec.com. Photos by Scott Gardener / The Spec.


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Receives Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Bruce Cockburn Diamond Jubilee Gala 2013 - Photo LGOntario
Bruce Cockburn performing at the Diamond Jubilee Gala – 2013

1 February 2013 – TORONTO – The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and Mrs. Ruth Ann Onley are pleased to host a DIAMOND JUBILEE GALA to present Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to members of the Order of Canada residing in Ontario, members of the Order of Ontario and other deserving individuals. This will draw to a close Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Year, on Wednesday, February 6, 2013, the 61st anniversary of The Queen’s accession to the Throne.

In keeping with the tradition of honouring milestone years of service, the commemorative medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne. The medal serves to honour the contributions and achievements made by Canadians from all sectors of society.

Their Honours will be joined by a number of prominent Canadians who will also act as distinguished medal presenters to ensure that each of their peers receives his or her medal in a dignified and meaningful way.

Following the medal presentations, guests will enjoy a short performance by some of Canada’s best known performers, including Tafelmusik, and Michael Burgess, Liona Boyd, Bruce Cockburn and Tom Cochrane, themselves members of the Order of Canada.


Music icon Cockburn receives doctorate from Queen’s University

May 11, 2007 – by Rob Tripp

Bruce Cockburn - Doctorate Queen's University - 9 May 2007
Bruce Cockburn – Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Queen’s University – 2007

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian music icon who once penned a song about retaliatory killing with a rocket launcher, has received an honorary doctor of divinity from Queen’s University.

The 61-year-old Ottawa native, whose 29 full-length albums are infused with religious and spiritual imagery, was bestowed the doctorate at the convocation ceremony for Queen’s Theological College Wednesday night [May 11, 2007].

“In all the time I’ve spent thinking about God in my life, I never thought I’d be recognized for it,” Cockburn said at the ceremony.

Cockburn charged the graduates, many of whom will become ordained ministers in the United Church, to look past New-Age spirituality and fundamental evangelism and focus on God.

“In between those cracks there is a place for sharing real experiences about God,” Cockburn said.


Canadian Music Hall Of Fame Award

5 March 2001 – At the 30th Annual Juno Awards ceremony (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys), Bruce Cockburn was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Bruce Cockburn 2001 - Canadian Music Hall of Fame - photo BurlMusicAndArtFest

The Toronto Sun’s Jane Stevenson reported on March 3rd that Cockburn said,

“It seemed like you’re supposed to be dead or something to be in the Hall Of Fame — and I didn’t feel that dead. It kind of took me aback slightly — it’s a great honour at the same time, so the feelings were mixed. I was slightly uncomfortable because of that but I’ve kind of gotten over that now. It’s just a nice thing.”

The Toronto Star, also on March 3rd, listed some of the many honours Cockburn has received before, including 10 Juno awards; 20 gold and platinum album awards; an honorary music doctorate from his alma mater, the Berklee College of Music; doctorates in letters from Toronto’s York University and Nova Scotia’s St. Thomas University; Billboard International’s lifetime achievement award; Canadian and international songwriting awards; a Toronto Arts Award and a Governor- General’s Performing Arts Award.

Cockburn told the Star:

I’ve had time to reflect on the Hall of Fame thing, time to get over my fear of taxidermy. That was a very big part of my initial response. Some of my fellow inductees are still alive, some aren’t. Some are active, some aren’t. Some are doing living things, others are repeating what they’ve already done. That’s the category I don’t want to find myself in.

 

It’s a compliment, of course, a great honour,” he says. A lot of people take this stuff really seriously and put great stock in it, and good for them. They’re saying something really nice to me and about me by inducting me, and that’s great, I appreciate it. But I’ll never stop what I’m doing. I’m concerned about age as a human being facing certain prospects, though I’m not yet aching in the places where I used to play, as Leonard (Cohen) says. But, as an artist, I’m not concerned. If age means shutting down, closing the heart, relying on past habits to get you through, it’ll be a problem for any kind of creative work. So far that hasn’t been the case. I feel as if I’m learning at the same rate as I always have, but I’m more aware of it now, and able to appreciate it more.

 

My models for graceful aging are guys like John Lee Hooker and Mississippi John Hurt, who never stop working till they drop. Eventually time is going to get everyone, but in the meantime, they stay out there, doing their thing – out of necessity, to a degree, as I fully expect to be doing – and just getting better as musicians and as human beings. You don’t have to stop maturing just because you become mature.

Cockburn’s induction to the Hall Of Fame was presented by David Suzuki and Gordon Lightfoot.

In accepting the award, Cockburn said:


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