Canadian in Grammy contention in 'not very definitive' new age category

TORONTO -- A Canadian has never won in the best new age album category at the Grammys.

Toronto flutist Ron Korb could very well change that with his album "Asia Beauty," which recently won kudos from actress-singer Olivia Newton John.

See Full Article

She called Korb a "brilliant musician" and the album "stunning" on her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Korb did some strategizing before submitting his album -- influenced by his travels to Asia and Japanese heritage -- for Grammy consideration.

"The world music category in the Grammys tends to always go to a singer and even the nominations, it tends to be like Ladysmith Mambazo or Angelique Kidjo or people like that," Korb said in a phone interview.

"They're all great but I guess with new age I have had some sales history in that genre before, and so I thought maybe some people from the old days would remember me, and they did."

The Grammys' best new age album category has been won by a wide variety of artists, from Peter Gabriel to Enya to jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Besides Korb, Loreena McKennitt is the only other Canadian to be nominated in the category.

"New age is one of those categories, it's not very definitive," said Korb. "I just thought, 'give it a shot.' It worked out. It really doesn't matter what category you get nominated in, as long as you can put Grammy in front of your name, it seems to change everything."

It was a 2002 trip to mainland China that inspired "Asia Beauty," which includes 22 songs and 36 pages of photography from his travels in the liner notes

"I often refer to it as like a 13-year journey or whatever, but honestly it's a lot longer than that," said Korb.

The album's inspiration is also rooted in his Japanese heritage from his mother, who was interned along with her family in British Columbia during the Second World War.

"They lost their entire house," said Korb. "Their whole family had to move to the New Denver area, where they stayed until the war was over.

"Then of course after the war they had to get relocated in the eastern part of Canada, because they didn't want them to go back to the western part of Canada in case another war with Japan would break out."

Korb's mother eventually settled in Toronto, where he grew up and learned to play the recorder and flute. He went on to study classical music at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto.

His studies eventually took him to Tokyo, where he learned Japanese traditional music, wrote songs for pop singers and recorded an album.

Korb moved back to Toronto and recorded more albums, picked up credits on TV and film soundtracks, and had high-profile audiences including a performance before the Queen.

All the while he's toured and performed around the world, returning to Japan about 20 times and visiting China seven times.

He notes most of "Asia Beauty" was recorded in Toronto with Chinese musicians.

"A lot of people in Asia really find quite remarkable," said Korb, "that an album like this can be recorded in a place like Toronto, a non-Chinese city.

"Honestly, in North America, I think there are very few places that you could do that. Even New York, I think you're kind of stretching it."

He also noted that "if this album wins in new age, it'll be the first time an album with Chinese instruments has won in that category."

Korb's music spans many genres, from jazz to Calypso and Celtic. But "Asia Beauty" is especially connecting with fans, he said.

"For some reason when I do something Asian, it seems to really resonate, I guess because I'm part Japanese myself. I don't know."

The Grammys will be held on Feb. 15.


Latest Entertainment News

  • SNL pokes fun at Canada with harassment sketch where everyone says 'sorry'

    Entertainment CTV News
    Saturday Night Live poked fun at Canadians this week with a sketch about a harassment scandal where everyone, including Montreal band Arcade Fire, says they're sorry. In addition to the musical guest, the sketch featured former SNL cast member Bill Hader, who played a fictional movie producer accused of being the "Canadian Harvey Weinstein. Source
  • 'Black Panther' tops box office for 5th straight weekend

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Not since "Avatar" has a box-office hit had the kind of staying power of "Black Panther." Ryan Coogler's comic-book sensation on Sunday became the first film since James Cameron's 2009 smash to top the weekend box office five straight weekends. Source
  • Canadian standup comedian Mike MacDonald dies from heart complications

    Entertainment CTV News
    Mike MacDonald, a pioneer of the Canadian standup comedy scene, has died. The longtime comedian died on Saturday afternoon from heart complications at the Ottawa Heart Institute, his brother J.P. MacDonald said on Sunday. Source
  • Four shows to fill this year's 'Game of Thrones' void

    Entertainment CTV News
    While HBO executives teased the demise of multiple main characters in the final season of "Game of Thrones," and reports emerged of cast members tearing up while reading the scripts, the eighth season won't actually be hitting the small screen until April 2019. Source
  • 'Canadian Harvey Weinstein,' Arcade Fire, all 'sorry' in SNL sketch

    Entertainment CBC News
    Members of Montreal rock group Arcade Fire appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch — all squeezing out a Canadian "sorry" as a nod to the #MeToo movement. They took turns apologizing for briefly working for a fictional movie producer dubbed the "Canadian Harvey Weinstein," in the skit that poked gentle fun at the Canadian talent for apologizing. Source
  • 'I'll always stand behind Hedley': Fan makes 1,500 paper hearts to show support

    Entertainment CTV News
    As Toronto police investigate Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard amid sexual misconduct allegations, a long-time fan helped make 1,500 paper hearts to hand out at a Winnipeg concert in support of the band. “A lot of people can’t live without their music,” Jen Laszchuk told CTV Winnipeg ahead of the Saturday show. Source
  • Barbra Streisand says she's 'never' had #MeToo moment

    Entertainment CBC News
    Barbra Streisand said she's never suffered sexual harassment but has felt abused by the media. During a tribute to Streisand's decades of TV music specials and other programs, producer and long-time admirer Ryan Murphy queried her about her career, the #MeToo movement and her aversion to interviews. Source
  • Barbra Streisand says no #MeToo moment marred her life

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Barbra Streisand says she's never suffered sexual harassment in her long career. Streisand made the comment when she was asked about the #MeToo movement during a tribute to her Saturday in Los Angeles. Source
  • Demi Lovato celebrates 6 years sober at show with DJ Khaled

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety at a concert in New York with tour mate DJ Khaled, whose powerful words brought the pop star to tears. Lovato performed Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, telling the audience that March 15 was a proud day for her. Source
  • Demi Lovato celebrates 6 years of sobriety at concert

    Entertainment CBC News
    Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety at a concert in New York with tour mate DJ Khaled, whose words brought the pop star to tears. Lovato performed Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, telling the audience that March 15 was a proud day for her. Source