Canada’s Walk of Fame recognizes and celebrates outstanding Canadians in the fields of music, television, sports, the literary, visual and performing arts, science and innovation. Since 1988 143 internationally celebrated Canadians have been honoured. This year jazz great Oscar Peterson is among the inductees.
Oscar Peterson: In A Nutshell:
Born: August 15, 1925 in Montreal – Grew up in the predominantly Black area of Little Burgundy
First instrument: Trumpet but switched to piano after a bout of Tuberculosis
Teaching influences: His father who was an amateur trumpet and piano player and his sister Daisy who also taught many noted Canadian jazz piano players. . He took classical lessons from concert Master Paul de Marky who discovered Peterson’s talent on the piano. Was hugely influenced by Art Tatum. They became friends but Peterson was always shy about being compared to Tatum and rarely played in Tatum’s presence.
- Age 15: CBC talent show winner – performed on local radio on a weekly basis
- Age17: Sought out by Johnny Holmes Orchestra, at the time the top swing band.
- 1947: Jazz impresario Norman Granz heard him on the radio and recruited him for his Jazz at the Philharmonic shows which introduced Peterson to audiences worldwide.
- 1949: Debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall – made him a super star of jazz
Recorded: with many accomplished musicians including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.
Touring: He traveled worldwide including the segregated US South where he experienced racial discrimination first hand.
Music Titles: Recorded throughout his career amassing more than 200 titles
Educational contribution: Chancellor at York University. Taught piano and Improvisation in Canada, mainly in Toronto. Published original jazz pieces for students to practice. Co-founded and headed the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto for five years.
Awards: Among his numerous honors – Eight Grammys, elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Juno Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame. The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, the Glenn Gould Lifetime Achievement prize, etc.
- 1993: suffered a stroke, which left him with an incapacitated left hand. He continued to play by changing his style to focus on his right hand. It has been said that after his stroke he could still outplay most piano players while using mostly one hand. He performed up to a year before he died.
- December 23 2007: Oscar Peterson passed at age 82 in Mississauga, Ontario
- September 21, 2013: His Walk of Fame Star was unveiled at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre.
Other Inductees: Soccer star Christine Sinclair, actors Victor Garber and Alan Thicke, Terry Fox, brothers Marc and Cody Kielburger, founders of Free The Children, an international charity and music producer Bob Ezrin. Carly Rae Jepson received the Allan Straight Award.