Origin: Sackville, New Brunswick - Orangeville, Ontario
At the stage when most children are getting ready for high school, Shirley Eikhard was playing live and writing songs. Songs that would soon catch the attention of Anne Murray and Chet Atkins, resulting in cuts by both illustrious artists. Her first album, simply entitled "Shirley Eikhard", was released in 1972 on Capitol Records and garnered a Juno Award for Best Country Vocalist. Shirley again won the prestigious Juno in 1973 for Best Country Vocalist.
In 1982, she launched her own record label, Eika Records, and began to take control of her music and career. She quit live performances in 1986 and focused her considerable energy and talent on songwriting. Soon her songs were all over the radio, recorded by artists like Alannah Myles ("Kickstart My Heart", a collaboration with three other writers), two songs by Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, whose rendition of "Something To Talk About" won a Grammy Award. Cher recorded a Shirley Eikhard song which appears on both her Not Commercial CD (2000) as well as THE VERY BEST OF CHER (2003).
One of Quebec's finest vocalists, Ginette Reno, recorded three of Shirley songs and included them on several Cd compilations as well as Ginette's first english CD in the late 90's called "Love Is All".
In 1995, Shirley began to record again, cutting the album, "If I Had My Way". This disc illustrated Shirley's ability to write and record successfully in many genres, from jazz to blues to pop. In 1996, she followed up with "The Jazz Sessions", resulting in a lifelong dream of working in the jazz tradition. She followed that album with "Going Home" which was distributed internationally by Blue Note Records and which won her a Best Jazz Performance Award at the East Coast Music Awards in Canada.
Two years of performing her music live gave her the impetus to write and record "The Last Hurrah" (2000), an impressive CD featuring some of Canada's finest jazz musicians. A song from this CD, "Tomorrow Is A Lonely Place" won First Prize in the Jazz Category in the 2001 USA International Songwriting Competition.
"End Of The Day" was recorded and released in 2001 and is a CD that was completely instrumental (with the exception of one vocal track) and on which Shirley played all the instruments, including guitar, piano, drums, bass, sax, percussion and chromatic harmonica.
Since The Last Hurrah, Shirley has recorded "Stay Open" (2003) which edges slightly out of the straight jazz vocal territory she's been exploring lately and offers some pop-tinged songs that demonstrate her well-honed songwriting skills and instrumental ability.
In 2005, as a 50th birthday gift to herself, Shirley recorded two CDs; "Pop" and "Country", featuring her personal favourite songs that she has written over the years and for the first time, "Country" includes her own version of her award-winning "Something To Talk About".
"The year, 2006, saw the release of an EP, The Holidays Are Here containing two new holiday originals, in the pop/jazz vein. And in early 2007, Shirley being as prolific as ever, released another full-length CD this time, Stuck In This Groove.
Presently, Shirley is enjoying tremendous success with Riding On The 65, a CD inspired by her love of Bossa Nova, in honour of the 50th anniversary of Bossa Nova's birth."
As a singer and songwriter, Shirley Eikhard has a real command of the breadth of modern musical styles. And her voice, dusky, sensual and full of emotion, puts her at the top of her field. It all adds up to the perfect package: great songs, great arrangements, great vocals.
Shirley Eikhard is the real deal.
In 2009, we introduce "Just Call Me Alice" with yet another expanding musical soundscape of pop songs, written from the subtext of a character, "Alice" that Shirley created out of her love of fun and desire to continue creating new avenues to travel.
Shirley (Rose) Eikhard. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, b Sackville, NB, 7 Nov 1955. Eikhard is the daughter of the well-known fiddler June Eikhard (b Marguerite June Cameron, Moncton, NB, 1 Dec 1932; the first woman to participate in the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest) and the country musician and bassist Cecil (Arnold) Eikhard (b Eikhoudt).
Early Career and Musical Style
In 1963 the family moved from the Maritimes to Oshawa, Ont. At age 11 Shirley Eikhard began to play guitar and write songs. Following her debut at 12 at a fiddler's contest in Cobourg, Ont, she appeared at the Mariposa Folk Festival (New Songwriters concert) and on CBC TV's Singalong Jubilee. She was signed by Capitol Records at age 14. In 1970, the US guitarist Chet Atkins recorded her instrumental "Pickin' My Way" (the title tune of his LP of the same name). Eikhard was often compared to Anne Murray, who had a modest hit with an early Eikhard song, 'It Takes Time,' in 1971. Eikhard herself recorded in 1971 for Capitol (Shirley Eikhard, ST-6371); had a country hit in 1972 with 'Smiling Wine'; and received Juno awards for 1972 and 1973 as best female country singer. Her LPs 1975-7 for Attic (Child of the Present, LAT-1007; Let Me Down Easy, LAT-1021; Horizons, LAT-1032) documented a selective move toward pop, R&B and rock. A version of a Fleetwood Mac song, 'Say You Love Me,' was popular in 1976. Eikhard performed during the 1970s in clubs, coffeehouses and concert halls across Canada and toured Canada and Europe with performers such as Hagood Hardy (1975), Sylvia Tyson, Lou Rawls, Sonny James, and Lynn Anderson.
Recordings, Later Musical Style, Awards and Activities 1977-present
After a recording hiatus 1977-82, in 1982 she established her own label, Eika. Like various female musicians, Eikhard steered away from that part of the music business driven by image and marketing. She disclosed, "I've had managers over the years who said very hurtful things about my image... I ended up becoming a caricature of whatever they wanted me to be. And the audience always knew it was fake."
In 1985 she journeyed to Nashville, where she wrote 16 songs in six weeks. During 1987 she released her first Eika recording, appropriately titled Taking Charge (Eika/WEA 25-48531). Eikhard wrote, co-wrote, produced, arranged and performed all songs on the album. She continued to tour in Canada (cutting nightclubs from her itinerary after 1986 as a result of a severe allergy to cigarette smoke).
After a discussion about songwriting with Hal David, Eikhard concentrated on composing. She has come to be best known as a songwriter, and has written or co-written songs recorded by the US singers Kim Carnes, Cher, Rita Coolidge, Emmylou Harris, the Pointer Sisters, and Bonnie Raitt. In 1991 Raitt's hugely successful release of Eikhard's "(Let's Give Them) Something to Talk About" (Luck of the Draw) won a Grammy award and skyrocketed Eikhard onto a higher plane of financial freedom and professional respect. Raitt described her experience with recording the track as "like hitting one out of the park, my first number one..." Eikhard has also written songs with the Laurie Bower Singers, Gary Buck, George Fox, Catherine McKinnon, Alannah Myles, Peter Pringle, Ginette Reno, Donna Ramsey, and Sylvia Tyson and Quartette, among others. She has also sung on hundreds of recording sessions with numerous artists.
In the early 1990s, Eikhard composed two scores for Toronto playwright George F. Walker. One of them, Escape from Happiness, won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for sound design (1992). Later that year, she won BMI songwriter citations for "Something to Talk About."
Eikhard recorded If I Had My Way (CAN 9023) in 1995. The disc contained pop, folk, R&B and jazz songs and demonstrated Eikhard's ability to write successfully in any genre. A long-time lover of jazz and in particular the music of Cleo Laine, during 1996 Eikhard wrote, arranged and produced The Jazz Sessions (SEM 1196). In 1998 Shirley recorded her second jazz album, Going Home (E21S 57890). The album garnered the best jazz performance award at the 1999 East Coast Music Association Awards. Following Going Home's release, Eikhard performed on Bravo! television's Live at the Rehearsal Hall, backed by jazz musicians including guitarist Ed Bickert. The track "Nothin' Like Love" was featured on the recording Blue Note Festival '98.
Eikhard released the critically acclaimed album The Last Hurrah (SEM 1199) in 2000. Like on Going Home, rather than reinterpret jazz standards, Eikhard added original songs to the jazz catalogue. According to Bruce Lundvall, president of Blue Note, she had a knack for jazz phrasing and composition: "I put on the CD and I was stopped in my tracks. The song was "If We Had Never Met," and it sounded like a standard... a classic. Her voice was wonderful - a distinctive signature voice. A jazz voice..."
Eikhard's "Tomorrow Is a Lonely Place" won first prize (jazz category) in the 2001 USA Songwriting Competition. Also in 2001, Eikhard produced and engineered End of the Day (SEM 2001), a largely instrumental recording on which she played guitar, piano, drums, sax, bass, percussion and chromatic harmonica. The album showcased Eikhard's guitar-playing abilities (eg, "Song For Lesley") and her aptitude for instrumental writing. Eikhard's next release, Stay Open (SEM 2003), provided further evidence of her capacity to successfully write, produce and perform in various styles.
During 2003 Eikhard won a SOCAN Classic Award for "Something to Talk About."
Shirley Eikhard, 'Eikhard takes charge with new LP,' CanMus, vol 9, Oct 1987
Museum of Canadian Music Musée de la Musique Canadienne Calgary Vinyl Music Museum Canada Museum of Recorded Sound Canada Music Museum Calgary Music Museum