Jim Cuddy was a special guest of the University of Saskatchewan as part of the Gail Appel Lecture Series. Cuddy’s lecture, titled Canadian Music: The Dawning of Independence, took place in Convocation Hall on October 18, for an intimate crowd of 200. Cuddy peppered his unique lecture with acoustic performances of some of his band Blue Rodeo’s greatest hits.
The rare performance was made possible through the Gail Appel Lecture Series in Literature and Fine Arts thanks to a generous donation by Gail Appel (B.A.’66) and her husband, Mark. Established in 2002, the series highlights literature and the fine arts on campus and exposes U of S students, faculty and the broader community to some of the world’s most distinguished and influential artists, including Sir Ken Robinson, Buffy St. Marie and Alan Lightman. Through the series, Gail says she hopes to inspire current students. “I want to encourage students. If it’s your passion, just keep doing it,” she said.
Passion is what Jim Cuddy exuded in this special look into the life of an artist. He spoke of the evolution of the Canadian Music Industry, highlighting the sweeping shifts that took place during the decade between 1980 and 1990 while Canadian artists were struggling to find support for their music. He kept the crowd enthralled as he spoke about his own experiences playing small clubs searching for his niche, before he found success with Blue Rodeo, now one of Canada’s most beloved and iconic bands.
Cuddy noted that this was the first speech he had ever given, so to calm his nerves he brought his guitar and harmonica to do what he does best, performing “Try”, “Five Days in May” and “Head over Heels”.
Music students also took the opportunity to ask the singer for career advice during a lengthy question and answer period. They were also pleasantly surprised when their dean of the College of Arts and Science, Peter Stoicheff, appeared onstage with a guitar to jam with Cuddy for his final song.
While many local music fans have likely seen Cuddy and Blue Rodeo perform in Saskatoon, few get to hear artists speak at length about their careers and how they achieved success. Sabrina Kehoe, associate director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity, says this is what makes the lecture series unique and consistently fills Convocation Hall to capacity.
“We seldom get an opportunity to hear the ideas and perspectives of internationally-renowned thinkers, creators and artists, and we rarely have the opportunity to engage meaningfully with them. This lecture [series] offers both experiences.”
To view videos of the talk and performance, please visit the College of Arts and Science website.