15 MAY 2018:  Canadian Music Week provided a number of opportunities to showcase music.  With Brand USA promoting its film, several states were on hand to strut their stuff and none did so more effectively than Georgia. Tourism division director, and obvious music lover, the aptly named Lisa Love held an amused and interested audience without a note, Powerpoint or video (just as well, as the tech stuff was acting up).  Acknowledging it was her first visit to Canada, Love said she views places she visits through the “lens of music - and when I think about Canada, it's been about Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young.” She then went on to spotlight an amazing amount of Georgia talent.

Love’s from a small town named Moultrie at the very southern end of Georgia “if you can't tell from my accent.” Her grandfather had a band in the forties and his fiddle player was Boudleaux Bryant. Bryant and his wife Felice were prolific songwriters, who wrote such hits as Wake Up Little Susie, Bye-Bye Love, All I Have to is Dream, Rocky Top, and even the Nazareth hit, Love Hurts.

About 35 miles west, of Moultrie is Albany, said Love, “That's where Ray Charles, the genius himself was born. About 15 miles above that, Dawson, Georgia, is where Otis Redding was born, the crown prince of soul. Yes, give it up for Otis.” She encourages the crowd as they spontaneously applaud.

Fifteen miles before that, she says, Cuthbert, Georgia was the home of Fletcher Henderson, who really defined the jazz and swing sound of the twenties with his own band's performances and by selling big band jazz arrangements to Benny Goodman.

Columbus, Georgia, is the home of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey Pridgett, “who we know as the mother of the blues. "Ma" Rainey had a piano player named Tom Dorsey, who after a while gave up blues music and just did gospel. He was so terrific, writing, ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ and ‘Peace in the Valley’. He wrote so much gospel that he is universally known as the father of gospel music.

“Now we've gotta go down to the middle of the state to Macon, Georgia, which is home to the architect of Rock n Roll, Little Richard Penniman.” Says an infectiously enthusiastic Love. “It's also where The Allman Brothers Band got started - and is their spiritual home.

“Hop over to the coast, to Savannah, that's the home of Johnny Mercer. Johnny Mercer is one of America's greatest lyricists. Moon River, Blues in the Night, Autumn Leaves.”

Go below that to the Okefenokee Swamp and that’s the home of Gram Parsons. There would be no Americana music if it weren't for Gram Parsons suggests Love. His relatively short career was described by AllMusic as "enormously influential" for country and rock, "blending the two genres to the point that they became indistinguishable from each other."

“Then we ‘ve got to go up a little more to Augusta, Georgia.” Says Love, “That's the home of James Brown, the godfather of soul. With a clap on the two and the four in the backbeat rules.” She knows her music!

“It's also the home of the late, great Sharon Jones and the soprano, Jessye Norman.

“A little ways over, 30 minutes or so, is Athens, Georgia. The bohemian city that gave you the world's greatest party band, the B-52s.” she says to laughter from the audience, “One of the world's greatest Rock n Roll bands, REM, Vic Chesnutt - so much music.

“And we'll end our journey in Atlanta. There's been so much music to come out of Atlanta over the years, but we have to talk about rap and hip hop. It is the heartbeat of the dirty south. Back in the 90s it was OutKast, Goodie Mob, TLC. I could do the rap for you if you wanna follow.”

“And, Killer Mike, Janelle Monae, one of the most creative artists out today - the new album Dirty Computer.

“That's what Georgia is. And people ask me all the time, ‘Why Georgia? Why so many groundbreaking artists?’ If I knew that, I probably wouldn't be working for the government.” She laughs along with the crowd.

“But what I speculate is that in Georgia we're southerners. We have a deep respect and allegiance for our roots. And for those who came before us. But that other leg is over here in the Wild West. We believe in vision, in innovation, fearlessness, and no stop signs.

“Our musical landscape is the same, more than 75 music festivals, venues from the intimate Eddie's Attic to Philips Arena. And you can engage with those musical stories at the Allman Brothers Band Museum, the Ma Rainey Blues House and Historic Museum. The permanent Godfather of Soul exhibit in Augusta.

“I have one more thing I want say. We brought a musician with us who embodies all of that. AJ Ghent comes from a family tradition of sacred steel music. His family actually created the movement. But yet he makes it his own. He doesn't play sitting down, he straps that sacred steel around his back and he sears his name in it. Gospel, blues, rock. He's on at 8:45 tonight at Rivoli. He's what Georgia music is about.”

“I hope we’ll see you there soon. Thanks.”

That was Georgia’s Lisa Love - five interesting, informative, entertaining minutes - spot on.

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