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.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

    Entertainment CTV News
    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. has reinstated Hulk Hogan to its Hall of Fame, three years after he was found to have used racial slurs in a conversation caught on a sex tape. Source
  • Cardi B leads MTV VMA nods with 10; Beyonce, Jay-Z nab 8

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The year of Cardi B continues -- this time with 10 MTV Video Music Award nominations. MTV announced Monday that the rapper is the most nominated act at this year's show, which returns to New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Aug. Source
  • Comic-Con of the #MeToo era grapples with harassment

    Entertainment CBC News
    Comic-Con, the annual gathering of over 130,000 fans, artists, collectors and geek culture savants, has already been changed by the #MeToo and Time's Up era, with at least one notable figure stepping aside due to sexual misconduct allegations. Source
  • Robert Lepage willing to sit down with opponents of upcoming show

    Entertainment CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec director Robert Lepage says he is willing to meet with people who are opposed to one of his his upcoming shows because it does not include Indigenous performers. About 30 people signed an open letter in Le Devoir on Saturday to denounce Lepage for the absence of Indigenous actors in the show called Kanata. Source
  • Madonna back in Malawi; now considering soccer academy

    Entertainment CTV News
    BLANTYRE, Malawi -- Madonna has returned to Malawi to celebrate the first anniversary of a medical facility named after one of the four children she adopted children from this southern African country. The pop star on Monday visited the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. Source
  • 1st Comic-Con of the MeToo era grapples with harassment

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Comic-Con, the annual gathering of over 130,000 fans, artists, collectors and geek culture savants, has already been changed by the #MeToo and Time's Up era, with at least one notable figure stepping aside due to sexual misconduct allegations. Source
  • Saudi Arabia bans many video games after children's deaths

    Entertainment CTV News
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia says it's banning a long list of popular video games after allegations surfaced that two children killed themselves after being encouraged to do so in an online game. The Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said Monday it was banning 47 games, including Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed 2 and Witcher, for unspecified violations of rules and regulations. Source
  • First look at Olivia Colman as the Queen in 'The Crown'

    Entertainment CTV News
    Netflix has released the first image of British actress Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II for the upcoming season of “The Crown.” Colman takes over the role from Claire Foy as the series shifts forward in time and focuses on a depiction of the queen’s life in the 1960s. Source
  • Kanata: Director Robert Lepage open to dialogue with Indigenous artists over new play

    Entertainment CBC News
    Quebec theatre director Robert Lepage says he will meet a group of Indigenous actors, writers, activists and artists from across Quebec who have raised concerns about his upcoming play, Kanata, in an open letter. The letter's signatories say while the play aims to tell "the story of Canada through the prism of relations between whites and Indigenous people," no Indigenous actors or writers are involved in the production. Source
  • Soulpepper pauses training program amid 'culture change' at theatre

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Normally, the Soulpepper Academy would be ramping up for a nation-wide audition process to find the finest thespians, directors and playwrights to join its prestigious paid training residency. But as acting artistic director Alan Dilworth can attest, little has been normal about the past six months for the Soulpepper Theatre Company. Source