A scholarship in memory of Deane Cameron — the long-time president of EMI Music Canada and president and CEO of The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall — has been set up by lobby group Music Canada and music education charity MusiCounts. Cameron died of a heart attack in May.
“We are here to treasure the memory of our absent friend, Deane Cameron,” Music Canada president and CEO Graham Henderson said near the conclusion of Music Canada’s 2019 Symposium Wednesday (Oct. 23) at Toronto’s Great Hall. Cameron’s wife Cristina and sister Leslie MacKenzie were both in attendance at the dedication.
The MusiCounts scholarship honors Cameron’s longstanding support of indigenous communities and programs. Nominations are set to open in March 2020.
Cameron’s sudden passing at age 65 shook the industry hard. So great was his impact on the Canadian music industry that his memorial, held at Roy Thomson Hall, included a who’s who of artists, agents, managers and label executives.
Cameron started his career in the EMI warehouse in his teens and later returned to the company in 1977 as manager of talent acquisition. He eventually rose to president, a role he remained in for close to 25 years. He was in the middle of an ambitious C$135 million ($103 million) renovation to the iconic Massey Hall when he died.
While Music Canada (originally CRIA) once represented EMI, the trade organization now represents the remaining three multi-nationals and works with leading indie labels and distributors, studios, venues, promoters, managers and artists to close the value gap, lobby governments for copyright reform and funding and generally look out for the interests of the industry and its creators.
Two of the Canadian major label presidents and CEOs — Universal Music Canada’s Jeffrey Remedios and Warner Music Canada’s Steve Kane — were on hand at the symposium to announce the scholarship. Sony Music Canada’s Shane Carter was travelling and unable to attend.
“Each year the scholarship gives an aspiring professional in the areas of music performance, music, business and music production the connections and skills and resources needed to jumpstart their career,” said Kane. “The scholarship is intended for young indigenous professionals who are on the cusp of completing their post-secondary studies in their field and who plan to enter the workforce in 12 months.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor our friend,” he added, choking up. “After Deane’s passing, there were a lot of fantastic stories about how he supported and inspired Canadian artists. Equally important was his role in inspiring and in nurturing business and executive talent. And I can say as I look over my shoulder, Jeffrey and I are living, breathing examples of that tutelage and that generosity.”
After concluding his remarks, Kane hugged Remedios, the Universal president whom Cameron supported early in his career.
“When I heard about Deane’s passing I was in my office, and like everyone here I was shocked and I was crying. And one of the first people I called was my friend Steve Kane,” Remedios began, his voice also emotional. “The only doing reason I didn’t call Shane Carter was I couldn’t work the three-way on my phone in the emotional state because I needed to speak to them because we were all kids of Deane’s, like so many other folks here and across our business.
“Deane was my mentor and he was my biggest champion,” he added. “He taught me about making great records and about breaking acts. He taught me about how to speak hard truths to artists with respect and compassion and care. I miss him. He’s never far from my thoughts, never far from my heart. And I try to live up to the lessons and values he instilled in me and so many others, every day. Deane cared deeply for artists, cared deeply for all artists. It was his career’s work. He cared particularly for Canadian artists and cared particularly for indigenous artists.”
MusiCounts is the charitable arm of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences that helps to put musical instruments in schools and communities.