He’s been called a “playing encyclopaedia” for his vast repertoire, command of a wide variety of styles (including blues, gospel, swing, folk and his own compositions), and his prodigious ability on over a dozen instrument. www.kenwhiteley.com
Ken Whiteley is one of Canada’s most respected roots musicians. Drawing on his incredibly rich background in blues, gospel and folk styles, this 7-time Juno award nominee is always a wonderful addition to any festival or concert series. He has played at virtually every major folk festival in Canada and performed and recorded with such legends as Pete Seeger, John Hammond Jr., Tom Paxton, Blind John Davis, Stan Rogers, The Campbell Brothers, Guy Davis, Raffi, Linda Tillerey & the Cultural Heritage Choir and countless others. A prolific songwriter, a gifted and versatile instrumentalist and a powerful singer, Whiteley’s music communicates themes of freedom, love, spiritual aspiration and social comment. His performances are presented with participatory humour, grace and energy.
His performing career began as a teenager in the 1960s with brother Chris Whiteley and friend Tom Evans as The Original Sloth Band. With the Sloths, Ken performed all over North America and appeared on Saturday Night Live with Leon Redbone. His collaborations with brother Chris (The Whiteley Brothers) and old friends Mose Scarlett and Jackie Washington (Scarlett, Washington & Whiteley) resulted in a wonderful collection of recordings, garnering high praise, successful tours and several awards. Ken’s most recent collaborations are Ken Whiteley and The Freedom Blues Band and Ken Whiteley and the Beulah Band. Whether performing solo or playing with any of his large circle of musical friends, as one critic has said, “with Ken Whiteley our enjoyment is virtually assured.”
Ken Whiteley is a busy musician who is always involved in a number of projects. He is an active record producer, having worked on more than 135 albums. His productions have resulted in 11 Gold or Platinum albums, 22 Juno nominations, two Juno winners and two Grammy nominations, with total sales in excess of 8 million copies. He has written the music for a number of films and television programs. Whatever he does, it reflects his “brilliant musicianship and high test passion”. In the words of Sing Out! magazine, “Ken Whiteley is one of the best.”
2005 Estelle Klein Achievement Award for his contributions to the Canadian roots music community
Canadian Folk Music Award for Best Children’s Recording
Genie Award for Best Original Song 2004
Juno Award Nominations for Bluesology” and “Where Old Friends Meet”
Winner of the Jazz Report “Blues Album of the Year” Award
“The title song on Ken Whiteley’s latest album is an infectious gospel number featuring four part vocal harmonies and the pedal steel of Chuck Campbell of the Campbell Brothers of sacred steel fame. Listening is also an apt title for the album as, track to track, Whiteley demonstrates that he has, indeed, been listening to all kinds of music and integrating the influences into his own original songs. Stylistically, these songs range from Dixieland to blues, from R&B to world beat, from gospel to jazz and folk, sometimes combining more than one style in a particular song, as in “Falling Snow,” a gentle jazz tune featuring a Celtic harp accompaniment.
Whiteley’s messages are positive throughout the album. “Bird, Mole, Flower” is a paean to personal growth that uses nature’s images of flying, digging and blooming as metaphors for perpetual self-discovery. The song has Whiteley’s mandolin and Ernie Tollar’s soprano sax soaring over Middle Eastern rhythms laid down by percussionist Ben Grossman. “Candlelight,” which ends the album, is a quiet, jazz tune that pays tribute to the continuity of a love that, at the end of the day, one knows will be there tomorrow.
The only non-original song on the album is a rousing a cappella version of “Woke Up This Morning” that kick starts the CD.”