Canada seems to have no shortage of musical talent amongst its ranks. For decades, Canadian singers and songwriters have been generating hits that have graced the airwaves around the world. From singing one of the biggest hit songs of all time, to collaborating with some of the most famous artists in the world to amassing a huge fan base reminiscent of “The Beatles” era, Canadian singers have used their diverse talents to find fame and fortune and, of course, legendary status as award-winning singers and songwriters. Let’s explore some of Canada’s top musical talent that have become a familiar presence on the airwaves around the world.
Perhaps best known for some high-profile collaborations, Keinan Abdi Warsame – stage name K’naan – is an award-winning Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist. His single “Wavin’ Flag” was chosen as Coca-Cola’s promotional song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. K’naan calls Toronto home, where he moved with his parents when he was 13. He learned English by memorizing the words to rap songs. He’s since been known for his music that is often laced with important social messages. K’naan has toured with Jason Mraz and Lenny Kravitz and has collaborated with the likes of Keane, Simple Plan, Will.i.am and David Guetta. He’s won several Juno awards and an MTV Music Video award.
9. k.d. lang
Juno and Grammy-award winning artist k.d. lang has had an impressive vocal career that has spanned several decades. Although she was already a familiar face throughout Canada by 1985, she came into the international spotlight in 1988 when she performed at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. She then recorded a duet with Roy Orbison, which won them a Grammy Award in 1989. Also in 1989 she won a second Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal performance. She once again won the Grammy in 1992 for her hit song “Constant Craving.” In 2003, she won her fourth Grammy Award for her collaboration with Tony Bennett. She went on critically-acclaimed tours and generated more hit songs and high profile collaborations with other artists throughout the 2000s. In 2013, lang was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
8. Michael Buble
The Canadian crooner from Burnaby, British Columbia who once dreamed of becoming a hockey star, has accumulated an impressive four Grammy Awards and several Juno Awards. Buble started out with modest success as a singer in Canada in the early 2000s and became familiar on the talk show circuit. He later garnered a more international audience with his 2005 “It’s Time” and 2007 “Call Me Irresponsible” hit albums, both which reached the U.S. Billboard 200. His most recent album, “To Be Loved,” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and he is now a familiar face to American audiences thanks to his Christmas specials on the NBC network – his third consecutive holiday special was held in December 2013.
7. Avril Lavigne
The Napanee, Ontario native quickly rose to international fame at the age of 17 in 2002 for her successful debut album “Let Go” and hit song “Complicated.” Lavigne has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide since then. Her second album, “Under My Skin,” was her first album to peak at number 1 on the Billboard 200. One of the top-selling artists in the U.S., she’s generated an impressive six number-one singles worldwide. With a unique sense of fashion, she has also branched into clothing design and perfume, which has helped her accumulate an estimated net worth of $45 million so far in her career.
6. Sarah McLachlan
The Halifax, Nova Scotia singer and songwriter is known for her emotional vocals. Since her first hit album, “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” in 1993 and her second, and most successful album “Surfacing” in 1997, she’s won three Grammys and several Junos. Among McLachlan biggest hit singles are “Building a Mystery” and “Last Dance” in 1997 and the 1999 hit song “I Will Remember You.” After becoming frustrated by the lack of female voices on the radio, she was inspired in the late 1990s to found the Lilith Fair concert tours that featured female musicians. In 1997 the Lilith Fair festival grossed $16 million.
5. Bryan Adams
One of the world’s best-selling music artists and the best-selling Canadian rock artist of all time, Adams has had a successful career ranging over three decades. Hailing from Kingston, Ontario, Adams has risen to worldwide stardom, gathering 20 Juno Awards and accumulating 15 Grammy nominations and 1 Grammy win. His debut album was released in February 1980, and his 1984 album “Reckless” featured well-known singles such as “Summer of ‘69” and “Heaven.” One of Adams’ biggest hits was the 1991 song “(Everything I do) I do It for You,” which was his second #1 hit single in the Billboard Hot 100. He’s also been nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards for his work in film theme songs. The legendary artist has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Adams’ impressive career has earned him an estimated net worth of $65 million dollars.
4. Shania Twain
One of the biggest country stars of the 1990s, Twain grew up in Timmins, Ontario, where she had a difficult childhood. After dabbling in music for many years, she finally caught the attention of a few labels in her late 20s and released a self-titled debut album in 1993 that had a few moderately successful singles. Her real breakthrough album was “The Woman in Me” released in the spring of 1995 which had the hit songs “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” and “Any Man of Mine.” It sold more than 12 million copies. Her international breakthrough happened in 1997 with the album “Come on Over,” which helped Shania make the transition from more of a country sound to pop. It contained pop hits “You’re Still the One,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “From This Moment On.” The album remained on the charts for two years and sold 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time by a female musician and the top selling country album in history, as well as earning her 4 Grammy awards.
Toronto native Drake actually started out in acting with a reoccurring role on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” He released a mix tape in 2006 and two years later received his first break from Lil Wayne, who heard some of his music and invited him to go on tour. They later recorded a couple of songs together. Drake then released a third mix tape, “So Far Gone,” which included his work with Lil Wayne. The mix tape’s two singles were so successful it was released as an EP and received attention from MTV. Following its success, he worked with Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Alicia Keys and Dr. Dre, essentially earning success before releasing an official album or being signed to a major record label. Drake’s official debut album was finally released in 2010, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Its most successful single, “Find Your Love,” received a Platinum certification by the RIAA. In 2011, his second studio album was released and included his successful single “Make Me Proud.” Drake has also continued to dabble in television and film; he hosted Saturday Night Live in January 2014.
2. Celine Dion
The world-famous songstress has had countless hit songs, won many awards including a handful of Grammys and made a career as a Las Vegas crooner in recent years. She actually got her start at the tender age of 5 in the small town of Charlemagne, Quebec, just outside of Montreal. Celine was a teen star in Quebec and established herself as a singer in her native language of French in the 1980s before making a splash on the American scene with her first English hit in 1991, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” followed by the theme from Beauty and the Beast in 1993. She is perhaps best known for singing one of the biggest songs of all time, the “Titanic” theme song, “My Heart Will Go On.” Decades of hits, some of the best selling albums of all time by a female artist, and sold out concert tours and success with a series of Las Vegas shows have helped Celine Dion accumulate a staggering net worth of around $400 million.
1. Justin Bieber
A list of famous Canadians would not be complete without the teen singer who has accumulated more than 40 million fans on Twitter and has a net worth of around $130 million. The 19 year old singer from Stratford, Ontario was first discovered in 2008 by a talent manager who came across his videos on YouTube. His debut album was certified platinum in the U.S. and he was the first artist to have seven songs from a debut album make the Billboard Hot 100. In 2012, Forbes magazine listed Bieber as the third-most powerful celebrity in the world.