Alannah Myles (born December 25, 1958) is a Canadian Juno and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter who had the chart-topping hit “Black Velvet” in 1990.
Alannah Myles was born on 25 December 1958 in Toronto, Ontario. She is the daughter of William Douglas Byles, who was a pioneer in the Canadian broadcasting industry and was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 1997. Raised by her parents in Ontario, Myles spent her childhood composing and learning music. Myles began writing songs around age nine, performing in a songwriting group for the Kiwanis Music Festival in Toronto at age 12. At 18 she began performing solo gigs in southern Ontario, eventually meeting Christopher Ward, a WMG recording artist and songwriter. With Ward’s help, she formed her own band and performed cover versions of rock and blues songs, while polishing her own material. In her mid-20s, she and Ward would later collaborate with David Tyson to produce the eponymously titled debut album, Alannah Myles. She appeared in a 1984 episode of the television series The Kids of Degrassi Street, in which she played the role of an aspiring singer and single mother and was featured in several TV and film productions as a guest host and actor prior to becoming a recording artist.
Myles changed her surname from Byles at the age of 19 after deciding to pursue a career in entertainment. Appearances in TV commercials paid for music demos that led to countless rejections in Canada, until she recorded masters for three songs; “Who Loves You” and a video demo for “Just One Kiss” directed by photographer Deborah Samuel. With matched financing from her songwriting collaborator, Much Music (City TV) VJ and program director Christopher Ward and FACTOR, she signed her first record contract with Atlantic Records in 1987.
In fall of 1987, Warner Music Canada’s director of artists and repertoire (A&R), Bob Roper, sent Myles’s three-song video package to all of Warner Music Group’s U.S. affiliates, which garnered a contract for seven or eight years from Atlantic Records (WMG), given by head of A&R Tunc Erim and Atlantic label founder Ahmet Ertegun. Myles left her acting career, co-wrote and recorded the remainder of her first album with Christopher Ward and producer David Tyson. In 1989, Atlantic Records released her eponymous debut album and Myles toured internationally for 18 months. Her first album was awarded the Diamond Award for sales of over one million units; she is the only Canadian debut artist to attain that award. Her first album was reported to have sold upwards of 6 million copies internationally and remains a classic-selling album.
In May 1989, Warner Music in Canada released Alannah Myles which produced four Top 40 hits, including “Love Is”, “Lover Of Mine”, “Still Got This Thing” and her number-one classic rock hit, “Black Velvet”. Atlantic Records’ 1989 debut album release was ineligible for Grammy nominations until the early 1990 U.S. single release “Black Velvet” became a number-one hit, claiming ASCAP’s most played song on radio for 1989 and 1990. By 2000, it had received ASCAP Millionaire Award for over five million radio airplays. “Black Velvet” won Myles the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in 1991 and three Juno Awards.
In 1992, Myles was nominated for a second Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the track “Rockinghorse”, the B-side of “Song Instead of a Kiss”, the lead-off single from her second CD Rockinghorse. “Song Instead Of a Kiss”, written and composed by Myles, Nancy Simmonds, and Canadian poet Robert Priest, was a 60-piece orchestrated ballad that reached number one on several radio stations around the globe but was met with little response in America, whose audiences were accustomed to “that slow southern style” of “Black Velvet”. The album, released that year, included the other hit singles “Our World, Our Times”, and “Sonny, Say You Will”. Myles received a Grammy nomination for Rockinghorse and several global awards, including a Juno and Much Music’s People’s Choice Award for “Our World, Our Times” (by wikipedia)
Her first album was a very rocking debut – a fine album to start with. The second didn’t abandon those rock roots but showed much refined way to make music. “Lover of Mine” was already showing her sophisticated way – a dangerous word to use but I am talking the same way The Beatles updated their sound with “Rubber Soul” in the mid-60’s. “Rocking Horse” is even a better album than her first one.
“Song Instead of a Kiss” is one of my favorite songs of the 1990’s. It is emotional atmosphere can make you cry easily if you actually listen to the words and her voice. The slow tempo with classical music elements and the final scream complete this as a perfect song. The opener “Our World Our Times” sounds nothing like I’ve heard before – a fascinating song which has interesting vocals, melody, drumming, great guitar sounds. “Sonny Say You Will” sounds amazing – it is a great power ballad.
The rest of the songs are really good too. “Tumbleweed”, “Make Me Happy”, “Love in the Big Town”, “Life And Rumours”, “Living on a Memory” are good rock songs. “The Last Time I Saw William” is a beautiful song too. The title song was something I didn’t like at first but now it has started to sound very interesting, actually a fun song.
These are very good 50 minutes to spend and I have went through it many times, so I know. (Reijo Piippula)
Denny Fongheiser (drums, percussion)
Will Lee (bass)
Alanah Myles (vocals)
Kurt Schefter (guitar)
David Tyson (keyboards, bass, background vocals)
David Wipper (guitar, mandolin)
Christopher Ward – John Elefante – Mark Free – Rose Stone – Tommy Funderburk
Buzzy Feiten (guitar on 05.)
Gary Grant (trumpet)
Greg Smith (saxophone)
Larry Williams (saxophone)
01, Our World Our Times (Tyson/Ward) 6.24
02. Make Me Happy (Tyson/Ward) 5.49
03. Sonny Say You Will (Ward) 5.08
04. Tumbleweed (Ward) 4.38
05. Livin’ On A Memory (Tyson/Ward) 5.53
06. Song Instead Of A Kiss (Myles/Simmonds/Priest) 5.04
07. Love In The Big Town (Tyson/Ward) 4.48
08. The Last Time I Saw William (Tyson/Ward) 4.15
09. Lies And Rumours (Tyson/Ward) 5.06
10. Rockinghorse (Myles/Simmonds) 3.00