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Chesley (Chet) Brown was born on June 8,1935 in Greenfield, Kings County, Nova Scotia. He was introduced to music at age eleven, his mother bought him a Palm Beach guitar from Sears for $11.95. It was not long before Chet was playing and singing at school concerts. He won his first talent contest at a J.B. Hamm Show in 1946. Chet wrote and recorded the theme song for Hal's Corral, a daily radio country music show on CKEN Radio, Kentville. He also did a weekly show on CKEN in the early 60's.
In 1963 Chet toured Nova Scotia with the Lome Baker Show. In 1966 he emceed and opened for Mac Wiseman at the Rebecca Conn Auditorium in Halifax. Chet twice opened the Seniors' Expo shows at the Metro Centre in Halifax, appearing with Rosemary Clooney and with Wayne Rostad. He has performed on Breakfast TV, Fred Isenor's TV show, on the CBC's, "Sounds like Canada" and "Information Canada." Chet has been a regular performer at the Nine Mile River Jamboree since 1994 and at the annual Hank Snow Tribute since 1995. He has won the "Sounds like Hank" contest held at the Tribute, an unprecedented eight times. He has written and recorded two songs ,"Just an Ole Country Singer" and "Born Country" and has five recordings to his credit.
Chet has taken part in
over 490 benefit shows since 1993. He was honored by the province of
Nova Scotia in 2003 for his musical contributions to charity.
Rita grew up in Big Pond, Cape Breton, with three brothers and four sisters. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to break into the music business, Rita found inspiration in the women's movement. In 1971 she wrote a song about women having a voice, entitled "Need for Restoration." This was followed the next year by "Born a Woman" which became the title of her first album recorded in 1974. "BORN A WOMAN" launched Rita into the folk music circuit—from Riverboat and Mariposa to the Kootenays Folk Festival.
Back in Cape Breton the songs came fast and furious, among them - "Black Rock", "My Island" and "Working Man." Rita was being noticed. There were interviews, as well as requests for radio and concert appearances. A second album followed in 1980, "PART OF THE MYSTERY." However, the turning point was Expo '86 in Vancouver where Rita's shows sold out. In 1987 her album, "FLYING ON YOUR OWN" was released. The album went gold and earned Rita her first Juno for Most Promising Female Vocalist In 1988 her "REASON TO BELIEVE" album went platinum.
Rita has received doctorates from five Canadian Universities and in 1992 was inducted into the Order of Canada. Her TV shows have smashed records - two million people watched her 1993 "Once Upon A Christmas" special. She received two more Juno's, four Canadian Country Music Awards and seven East Coast Music Awards during the 90's.
This is what Rita's biographer and playwright, Charlie Rhindress said about her, "She has a very shy personality, but is a very strong person inside."
Jim and Don Haggart
Jim and Don Haggart were born in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Jim on January 5, 1938 and Don on May 10, 1951. Jim's interest in music began as a teenager playing lead guitar in a rock and roll band, "The Blue Cats." Don received his first guitar and started to write songs at age 13. He made his TV debut on Oland's Saturday Night as lead singer for "The Country Senators."
In the fall of 1971 the brothers hitchhiked to Toronto to pursue their musical careers and within three month Jim landed a recording contract with RCA's Arpeggio Records. "I'm Coming Home" was released in June 1972 and shot to number one on the charts. Jim and Don performed for Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to P.E.I, in 1973. They appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at both the Ryman Auditorium and the new Opryland. The brothers headlined the WWVA Wheeling West Virginia Show in 1974. They have appeared with Tommy Hunter, Ian Tyson, and George Hamilton IV and on Countrytime. Jim and Don have recorded two best selling LP's. They have had three number one hits, "I'm Coming Home", "He" and "Pictou County Jail." Seven others were top ten hits. The Haggarts were nominated for Juno awards in various categories in 1974 and 1975.
Jim performed throughout Canada's northwest for a number of years, recording "Hard Times in the Maritimes" and "Lots of Tequila" during this time. Don stayed at home and continued writing, including the song, "A Pictou County Christmas." This song became the title song of the 1996 "Christmas Daddies" CD. In 1999 the Haggarts released their "Greatest Hits" CD.
Jim and Don live in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and continue to write songs.
Leonard (Len) McDonald was born on August 14, 1936. Len was best known for his mastery of the steel guitar but could also play dobro, acoustic, lead and bass guitar. His musical career began at age fourteen when he started playing at local dances and weddings. Len played backup for many artists, appeared on local and national TV shows, concerts and jamborees.
Len played behind performers such as Jerry Hatton, Ted Germain, The Boutilier Brothers, Linda Longard, Joyce Seamone, Maritime Express, Doug Bell and The Rhythm Pals to name a few. Len has appeared on the CBC television shows, Countrytime, Roundabout and Gazette. He also appeared on CJCH's Maritime Country and on ASN's Breakfast Morning and Christmas Daddies. Len's radio work includes appearances on CBC Radio with Vic Mullin and with Ted Germain.
Len played on several albums released by the cast of Countrytime. Included on the albums were the instrumentals, "Coffee Time", "Hickory" and "The Atlantic Waltz", all of which he composed. Len owned his own record¬ing studio where he recorded local artists such as Maritime Express and Eric Bowers. Always ready and willing to teach and encourage young upcoming musicians, his contributions have been recognized by his induction into the Atlantic Steel Guitar Club, a life-time membership in the American Federation of Musicians Union and an Achievement Award from the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Leonard McDonald passed away on September 25, 2004.
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