With a stunning career spanning more than twenty years, it should come as no surprise that when the Huntsville Festival of Arts announced their summer concert line-up, tickets for Hawksley Workman’s shows on August 6 and 7 sold out almost immediately, requiring an additional performance to be added to the series.
From his 1999 ground-breaking debut For Him and the Girls, to his 2020 album Less Rage More Tears, Workman has repeatedly proven himself to be a popular, award-winning, international pop sensation, creating compositions and recordings of incomparable beauty, innovation, and surprise.
Hawksley Workman began his development in Emsdale, a small town north of Huntsville, as a drummer following in his father’s footsteps. Workman practised with intense energy and commitment, a trait he now believes guides and hones his resolve to continually rediscover his art. Undaunted by the technology generally associated with recording, Workman began to create his own tapes in his teens.
“This was the blessing, I think, of growing up in the middle of nowhere, is that I started to build, cobble together, studio equipment when I was very young,” says Workman. “With a Radio Shack mixer and a couple of cassette decks, I had built a multitrack machine. Now when you do live off the grid a little bit, you don’t have access to musicians… I just had a fascination with music and recording from such a young age, I knew that if I wanted guitar on recordings I had to play it myself. None of this was presented to me as impossible, or this isn’t normal, or people don’t do this. I think I just kept buying instruments with my allowance and eventually my lawn-cutting money. When I look back on my childhood, I was obsessive beyond what would appear normal. As an adult I’d give anything to have that obsessive thing that I had as a kid, where I was practising three to four hours a day, for years and years. I think, by the time I was eighteen, I had probably reached a professional level on drums, all the while playing guitar, bass, and piano.”
His self-recorded debut, For Him and the Girls, introduced not only a brilliant fully realized recording, but also a singer of remarkable range and stylistic proclivity. As an arranger and songwriter, Workman displayed an adventurous, daring approach, which was immediately recognized in indie circles at least as new and exciting. For a few years following, Workman was drawn to Toronto to work on his next few projects and tours, building an ever-growing and devout following.
While he is acknowledged as a formidable presence working in the studio, it is clearly Hawksley Workman’s live performances that his fans love him for. Kinetic and charming, Workman delivers song after song in an almost endless, effortless delivery, entrancing audiences with his virtuosity. His vocals soar from pop ballad to rock anthem to cabaret with an almost-indefinable freedom that belongs to a rare few in popular music genres. With Workman’s flair for so many unique singing styles, his shows could almost be mistaken for theatre or Broadway or something entirely of his own creation.
Hawksley Workman was awarded a Juno Award, the first of many nominations and wins, for Best New Solo Artist in 2002, as well as an award for Best Video for “Jealous of Your Cigarette” from his sophomore album (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves. Along with awards, Workman also garnered attention as a producer for some new and highly acclaimed artists such as Serena Ryder, Sarah Slean, Skydiggers, Justin Rutledge, and Tegan and Sara.
Workman returned to Burks Falls to build a more developed studio and continue his quest for new sounds, producing and releasing a steady stream of albums including one of his most beloved, Almost a Full Moon, an EP of his own Christmas songs. He also managed his own independent record company, Isadora Records, and its promotional, marketing division. He produces, develops, and acts in his own highly sophisticated, emotive videos for YouTube and other streaming venues which can be found catalogued on his website and are a must-view for fans old and new.
With the pandemic, his most recent album, Less Rage More Tears, released in the spring of 2020, has not yet been heard on stage or tour. Hawksley will likely perform stripped down versions of these in his sold-out shows for the Huntsville Festival of the Arts.
Following Median Age Wasteland from 2019, perhaps one his most beautiful selection of songs including “Birds in Train Stations”, “Battlefords”, and “Song of Summer”, his latest album finds the composer more reflective and reassessing of a life built in music, pondering the next steps to remain vital in a business that is not only ruthless but unforgiving.
Workman is an artist of unusual self re-imaging and resilience and is sure to find a new path for his music expression.
Joined by his long-time piano player, Todd Lumley (“Mr. Lonely”), Hawksley Workman promises a series of shows, already well-received in his current mini-touring schedule. His return to Huntsville is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleasing and riveting performance. Workman is a preeminent Canadian performer with a body of work of exceptional, imaginative intention that is worthy of the highest praise and esteem.
Learn more at hawksleyworkman.com.
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