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Music Memory - Johan Hultqvist

Music Memory is sponsored by the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, offering the "Music For Memory Project":  a program based on the effects of music and stimulation on people with dementia, by providing them with iPods containing personalized music. For more information, visit

Johan Hultqvist is the founder of artist services company Pinwheel Music. For almost a decade he toured extensively as the front man for JUNO-nominated dance floor activists Mr. Something Something. Follow him on Twitter: @johanhultqvist

"Choosing one music memory above all others is of course a near impossible task, but thinking about possible contenders has made it clear that I have music to thank for many of the best moments in my life. There was the time I found myself on stage with a Saharan rock band in Dawson City; the time I agreed to sing Jimi Hendrix' "Castles Made of Sand" in exchange for a free gondola ride around Venice in the middle of a summer night; the time phenomenal Cuban vocal ensemble Desandann showed up at my housewarming party and sang hair-raising Haitian slave songs in my living-room; the time my 3 year old daughter started requesting Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away from Me",  as sung by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong. Or as she puts it every night before bed: "I want 'The Way You Wear Your Head' by Elephants Gerald!" And then there's all the music that changed my life. Like the first time I heard Elizabeth Shepherd sing.

I first heard of Elizabeth thanks to a cover story in the NOW Magazine back in the fall of 2006. I really liked what I heard on her website so I went to see her trio play on a quiet night at the little intimate Roncesvalles bar Gate 403. It was magical. I sat maybe 5 feet from the piano taking in her smooth, unaffected voice and funky songs in odd meters. I had never heard anything like it. After the show, I felt nervous about approaching her - she was a killer musician and a very attractive woman - but I had a proposal to make: how would she like to open for my band if we put on a big Toronto show. We were both doing groove-oriented music and a double-bill seemed like a good fit for our respective audiences. I gave her a copy of our latest album and asked her to think about it. She graciously listened to my pitch but I later learned that she had thought "I've never heard of this guy or his band. Why should I open for him?" Well, the show never happened but we did run into each other at the JUNOs the following year. Two years later, we were married. At this point Elizabeth and I have been halfway around the world together. We've spent almost every single day of the past 8 years together. We've even performed together. But I'm still waiting to open for her.

One of these days."


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