Four Chords and the Truth, the Dakota Confessions are series of songwriter showcases held quarterly in Toronto at the Dakota Tavern, featuring a blend of top notch songwriters and songs in an intimate environment. Each show is hosted by award-winning songwriter Andrea England and will features several nationally and/or internationally acclaimed songwriters (and maybe a surprise guest or two). The songs are performed “in the round,” a style made famous by Nashville’s Bluebird Café, in which all four songwriters share the stage at once, each introducing and performing one song acoustically per round for a series of 3 rounds.
8th Dakota Confessions Songwriters: Jully Black, Justin Rutledge, Sarah MacDougall, David Leask and host Andrea England
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Jully Black is everyone, and unlike anyone. Jully Black is a true Canadian Icon. Named as one of ‘The 25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever’, (CBC Music) she has been dubbed ‘Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul’ by her fans and peers. As a platinum selling recording artist, her music career has yielded multiple singles reaching the Top 10 pop, R&B and dance music charts. She has taken home multiple Juno Awards, earned many industry accolades and was hand selected to sing for the Queen of England. With her powerhouse vocals, hilarious personality and love of people, Jully Black is truly every woman. Her passion for philanthropy has taken her to the shantytowns of Bangladesh to the villages of South Africa, and all across Canada. As a woman of faith, she champions important causes and believes in using her career as a platform to inspire others to celebrate the greatness that lies within each of us. As a songwriter, Jully has written music that has touched the hearts of her fans and collaborated with industry heavyweights such as Sean Paul, Destiny’s Child, among many others. She has shared the stage with superstars such as The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Celine Dion, Elton John and Etta James to name a few. She has been nominated for multiple Gemini’s and is a major presence in the Canadian media and entertainment industry. As host and media correspondent for CTV’s etalk, Jully was chosen to interview global megastars such as Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey, and former president Bill Clinton. She has also appeared in films, television, and in theatre. Jully recently launched her own record label, Jully Black Entertainment Inc., and continues to expand her reach by becoming the inaugural artist signed to the US label, “The Officials Music Group” founded by Atlanta’s Super Producer YoungPete Alexander. Through this joint venture, Jully is the first lady of this groundbreaking label. Fresh off the success of her single ‘Fever’, ‘BOM BOM’ (featuring iconic reggae dancehall artist Tanya Stephens) is heating up and topping the charts worldwide.
“Go West, Young Man, Go West”, an expression coined in the 1800s, could easily be rephrased and applied to Juno Award Winner Justin Rutledge to read, “Go East, Young Man, Go East”, as that, quite literally, is what Justin Rutledge has done. His new album, aptly titled EAST, signifies not only his personal transition in moving away from the only city he’s ever lived, but also, recording in the east, his first time making an album outside of Toronto. In 2015, ready to make a change, Justin pulled-up roots in Toronto and replanted himself on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County. Leaving Toronto as a home was monumental for Justin, “Toronto is where I was born, but for some reason it became an increasingly foreign place to me. I knew I had to leave the city.” Inspired by the beauty and serenity of these new rural surroundings, his 7th studio album was born, as Justin headed further east to Nova Scotia, marking the first time he has recorded outside of Ontario. “I’ve recorded in LA with my band Early Winters, but I hadn’t yet recorded a solo album anywhere other than Toronto-I wasn’t sure why, so I headed for Halifax.” The songs on EAST see Justin embracing new styles, from the gospel tinged ‘The Great Ascension’, to the lo-fi lament of ‘Queen Street Lost’. Not lost, however, are the country-tinged pop songs like ‘The Old Oak’ and ‘Blue Jeans’. Of course, the hushed voice and the intricate storytelling remain, making EAST Justin’s most accomplished album to date. Rutledge’s other albums include No Never Alone(2004), The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park (2006), Man Descending (2008), The Early Widows (2010) and Daredevil, his homage to The Tragically Hip (2014). He has twice been nominated for a Juno Award, and twice been long-listed for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Valleyheart, Rutledge’s first release on Outside Music, earned the Juno Award for Roots Album of the year in 2014.
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, David is a powerful performing songwriter, who has built an artistic bridge between the influences of his birthplace and the fresh possibilities of his adopted Canadian home to produce five critically-acclaimed CD’s and numerous international songwriting awards in different genres. Songwriters Magazine called David, “the most consistent Canadian songwriting competition winner.” He was also awarded the Mississauga Established Performing Artist of the Year. A seasoned and commanding performer, having played nearly 2500 gigs in the last 20 years, David’s music draws from Celtic roots, americana and country, topped up with a pop sensibility that brings to mind the talents of Van Morrison, Jack Johnson and Darrell Scott.
Described by the magazine Rootstime in Belgium as ‘One of the greatest talents of our era”, and listed as the “2nd best gig” by the major UK newspaper The Independent, becoming the #1 most played artist on Canadian Galaxie Folk/Roots radio, Western Canadian Music Award winning artist Sarah MacDougall is getting known for her honest and poetic songs, passionate performances, and unique voice. Born in Sweden, Swedish magazine Nöjesguiden declared her “One of Sweden’s best singer/songwriters”. Since the release ofaward-winning The Greatest Ones Alive in 2011, Sarah has been touring Canada and Europe endlessly, taking time to work on songs and record between tours. Last winter, she hunkered down under the Northern Lights in Whitehorse and put the final touches on the sonically rich album which was to become Grand Canyon. The album, co-produced by Sarah and Caleb Stull (Field Study, Dominique Fricot, Language Arts), which was recorded in Toronto and Vancouver, features 8 songs and guest appearances from Erika Angell (Thus:Owls), Rose Cousins, Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Dan Mangan), Peggy Lee, and Leah Abramson (Abramson Singers). Stepping outside of traditional folk and flirting with sounds that could have come from The Postal Service or Kate Bush, Grand Canyon keeps the acoustic guitar but infuses the sound with heavier drums and richly textured strings and synths. The songs are about identity, love, fear, hope, growing up, rootlessness, forgiveness. They are written from the point of view of the hopeful outsider, trying to figure out their place and make sense of the world. Grand Canyon sees Sarah challenging herself and pushing new boundaries musically and sonically, and it is an album that will surely see Sarah reach new levels in her career. Sarah has played festivals such as Iceland Airwaves, Winnipeg Folk Festival, The Great Escape, and she will continue to tour and write music throughout 2015.
Andrea England (host)
Nova Scotia-born Toronto-based Andrea England has a unique ability to work successfully in two different music worlds, recording and performing as a solo roots/country artist while placing songs with pop stars and emerging country artists. Having been awarded by the John Lennon International, NSAI, USA, and International Songwriting Competitions, England’s songs have appeared on numerous TV series, in feature films, and have been recorded by numerous artists, including former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger (whose recording of co-write “Casualty” on Killer Love earned Andrea her first UK Gold record), 2015 CCMA nominee Twin Kennedy (cowrites “Get Back Up” and “I Never Will” book-end their new album, It’s A Love Thing), risings star Meghan Patrick (“Nothing but a Song” on Grace & Grit), Tara Macri, and Kolton Stewart, among others. Andrea’s own most recent release, Hope & Other Sins – which was produced by Colin Linden and features guest musicians Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Damhnait Doyle, Liz Rodrigues and Gordie Sampson, among others – garnered rave reviews and diverse radio play, reaching #1 on Galaxy’s FolkRoots chart & spending 14 wks on CashBox Magazine’s Top 50 Folk Chart. Of it, David Kidney (Critics at Large) wrote: “The songs are autobiographical, personal, honest and universal. The performances are potent as you might expect; England’s vocals are delicate yet strong…” Andrea’s most recent endeavour is founding and hosting Four Chords & the Truth, Toronto’s hottest ‘in the round’ songwriter concert series, Four Chords & the Truth.