City of Windsor to fund statue of late radio hitmaker Rosalie Trombley

A bronze statue of Windsor, Ont., music icon Rosalie Trombley is getting a funding boost from city council.

Council to provide $100K to help with creation, installation and unveiling bronze artwork

Rosalie Trombley, shown in an undated photo, was music director at The Big 8 – CKLW Radio in Windsor, Ont., from 1968 until 1984, and later worked in Detroit and Toronto. A bronze statue of Trombley, who was 82 when she died in November, will receive funding from Windsor city council. (Leddy Library Archives & Special Collections, University of Windsor)

A statue of Windsor, Ont., music icon Rosalie Trombley will receive support from city council.

At their meeting Monday, councillors decided to provide funding for the bronze statue of Trombley, a music radio pioneer known as The Girl with the Golden Ear who died in 2021.

Council unanimously passed a motion to allocate $100,000 toward the creation, installation and unveiling of the statue in conjunction with the Arts Council Windsor & Region.

Before the council vote, Donna Mayne, the sculptor of the statue, said it is about 80 per cent complete.

"If the council agrees with the arts committee that it's a culturally valuable idea to have for this city, hopefully it'll be cast in bronze soon," Mayne said.

A conceptual drawing of a statue featuring Rosalie Trombley was shared in a report to Windsor city council. (City of Windsor)

Mayne's proposed location for the statue is the Festival Plaza on the city's riverfront.

The sculpture is expected to be complete and ready for installation by April 2023. A public unveiling would take place on Sept. 18, 2023, in a special ceremony in connection with Trombley's birthday.

According to a report in Monday's council agenda, the full project is expected to cost $170,000. St. Clair College has already pledged the remaining $70,000.

Sculptor Donna Mayne also completed this bronze statue of Mary Ann Shadd, North America's first Black female publisher, that was unveiled in downtown Windsor in May. Mayne says her statue of Trombley is about 80 per cent finished. (Tony Doucette/CBC)

Leaving her mark on the airwaves

Trombley was music director at The Big 8 – CKLW Radio from 1968 until 1984. She was able to pick songs that would become big radio hits.

Tromblay helped many musical artists break through, including the Guess Who, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Aerosmith.

Seger wrote a song about Trombley, Rosalie, which was released as a single in 1973. Trombley also convinced Elton John to release one of his most popular songs, Bennie and the Jets, as a single.

Rosalie Trombley was known as the girl with the golden ear

10 months ago
Duration 1:05
CREDIT: The Rise & Fall of the Big 8/Markham Street Films Inc..

Her influence was felt on both sides of the border.

She left CKLW after the station was struggling with Canadian-content regulation, and went on to become music director at WLTI-FM in Detroit followed by CKEY in Toronto.

Trombley was living in a long-term care home in Leamington, Ont, before her death on Nov. 23 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease.

"Recording artists, both established and aspiring, visited Trombley to promote their latest single releases," Trombley's family said in a media release just after her death.

A lasting legacy

Trombley was honoured with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the 2016 Juno Awards honouring the best in Canadian music. She is also the namesake of the Rosalie Award, which is given by Radio Trailblazers to women who "have had successful careers in the radio industry and are seen as leaders, mentors, and people making a difference in our business." Trombley was the first recipient of the award in 2005.

Diane Lauzon, Trombley's daughter, said a statue would help people learn more about her.

"She's well known within the industry, but maybe not everyone knows about what my mom did with her radio career," said Lauzon. "It's a chance for them to get to know The Girl with the Golden Ear, especially if it's going to be interactive, and we hope that it will be."

With files from Windsor Morning


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