Stars praise Cohen, Murray at Hall of Fame gala
The usually reclusive Leonard Cohen made a rare public appearance in Toronto Sunday night for his induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The 71-year-old poet and singer-songwriter reacted emotionally after watching a video montage of his career highlights but also joked that "if I knew where the good songs came from, I'd go there more often."
"You have been so good to me over the years, my heart is full of gratitude," he said. "I'm so privileged and so proud and so honored that you have accepted some of my letters."
The audience included Cohen fans such as Willie Nelson, k.d. lang, Rufus Wainwright and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson — all of whom also paid tribute to the Montreal artist.
"He represents Canada and the human condition like no one else," lang told CBC News. "He's one of a kind. He's a national treasure, that's for sure."
Canadian icon Anne Murray was also feted at the gala, winning one of three Legacy Awards presented Sunday night. Singers Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Cockburn were among those who praised the Springhill, N.S. woman best known as Canada's "Songbird."
"Over the years, I have recorded the equivalent of eight albums, 80 songs written by Canadians and I am grateful to finally have the opportunity to say thank you to all of you," the Juno- and Grammy-winning Murray said.
Besides Cohen, the hall also inducted four other songwriters: Quebec's Gilles Vigneault, big band composer Carmen Lombardo, ragtime composer William Eckstein and classical composer and lyricist Lionel Daunais.
Quebec chanteuse Lucille Dumont and recording industry pioneer Herbert Berliner joined Murray as winners of Legacy Awards, which honour extraordinary contributions to and support of the Canadian songwriting industry.
In addition to honouring the songwriters, organizers also inducted 26 songs into the hall of fame, including Cohen's Suzanne and Bird on the Wire, Vigneault's Mon pays, the traditional song Farewell to Nova Scotia, Sugar, Sugar by Andy Kim, À Québec au Clair de Lune by Marius Delisle, and Put Your Hand in the Hand by Gene MacLellan.
Founded in 1998 by music publisher Frank Davies, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of popular music songwriters in Canadian history. Organizers are working towards the construction of a physical home for the hall.
CBC-TV will broadcast highlights from the gala Monday at 9 p.m., while Radio-Canada's music channel Espace musique will air highlights beginning at 10 a.m. Monday morning.
A two-hour hall of fame special airs on CBC Radio Two beginning at 8 p.m. Monday. A one-hour interview with Leonard Cohen airs on CBC Radio One Tuesday at 10 a.m., followed by a one-hour package of highlights from the gala.