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Toronto author David McPherson will look back at the 127-year-old venue's musical history
After three years of renovations, Torontonians will be able to set foot in Massey Hall later this year. They can also read about it.
Around the same time the iconic venue comes back to life in November following a massive revitalization project, a book chronicling the 127-year-old concert hall’s history is due for publication.
Based on scores of interviews and meticulous research, Massey Hall chronicles not only the historical and musical moments of the past 127 years, but also the community of artists and supporters that has built up around the hall over the years. Covering both emerging artists such as Shakura S’Aida and William Prince and musical giants from Herbie Hancock to the Tragically Hip, this full-colour book is a celebration of music, community, and our shared cultural heritage.
Singer/songwriter and actor Jann Arden, who is set to play three shows at Massey Hall next May, wrote the book’s foreword.
McPherson has been working on the book for three years. He tells NOW he interviewed with close to 100 artists for the project, including Geddy Lee, Robbie Robertson, Jim Cuddy, Nana Mouskouri and George Thorogood.
“What came out loud and clear is artists love the hall,” he says. “For Canadian artists, when they play the hall, it’s like they’ve made it. It’s a benchmark for their careers.”
For nearly a century, Massey Hall was one of the only substantial concert halls in the city. Everyone from Bob Marley to Justin Bieber has performed on its stage. It was designated a National Historic Site by the Canadian government in 1981.
In 2018, the venue closed as part of a revitalization process that will see it form part of the Allied Music Centre, a new multi-purpose and multi-stage performance and education complex.
In June, Massey Hall announced plans to reopen in November with Canadian folk icon Gordon Lightfoot performing over three nights. Fans got a glimpse of the main hall’s restored stain-glass windows when Feist joined the Tragically Hip for a performance during the Juno Awards broadcast.
Massey Hall arrives four years after McPherson’s book about the history of the Horseshoe Tavern, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History.