Proudly Canadian: Corey Hart

Corey Hart.jpg

Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Corey Hart is recognized as one of Canada’s most successful singer-songwriters selling over 15 million records worldwide and amassing 9 consecutive US Billboard Top 40 Hits. He also scored an impressive 29 top 40 Hits in his native Canada including 11 Top 10′s during his career. He is also a Grammy Nominated and multiple Juno Award Winner.

Hart was born in Montreal, Quebec on May 31,1962. He is the youngest of 5 siblings growing up in Montreal, Spain, Mexico and Key Biscayne, Florida, making fluently trilingual in English, French and Spanish. Shy as a young child, Corey found his refuge in music.

At age 11, Corey auditioned for singing star Tom Jones in Miami at the illustrious Fountain Bleu Hotel. He sang Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’. “I was so nervous that I needed to kneel on one knee while singing to keep my legs from shaking”But despite the jitters, Jones was so impressed with the young singer he quickly introduced him to Canadian legend Paul Anka. In 1974, Corey flew to Las Vegas, Nevada recording several songs submitted to him by Anka.

1980 at 19, Corey performed at the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo representing Canada along with singer Dan Hill. He did not make the selected cut in the competition but it heralded the first time that Corey performed in public a song he had penned himself. Returning to Montreal and still attending high school, songwriting for Corey became an intense passion during those awkward teen years occupying all his time.  “At 15, I also discovered the Bee Gees & Mr. Billy Joel. I really admired Billy’s songwriting skills. He was the man for me. ‘Honesty’, ‘ Rosalinda’s Eyes’, ‘Big Shot’, the repertoire list is endless but he was the real reason I taught myself to play piano & inspired me to try & write my own songs.”

In 1981, Joel was on tour playing a concert at the Montreal Forum. Corey decided to send a demo of his songs to each member of his band with the hopes that they would listen and hopefully open some doors to a recording contract. Corey had bought a ticket to that concert and was seated in the audience.

As improbable as the odds were, one of the members of the band actually did listen calling Corey later that night at 2 am waking him up. He soon found himself in Long Island, NY with Billy Joel’s band backing Hart up on 4 of Corey’s songs.

The 20 year old Hart signed his first record deal in 1982 with Aquarius/Capitol Records His debut album was recorded in Manchester, England during the spring of 1982. “I loved ‘The Police in my late teens. I Released in Canada November 1983, ‘First Offense’ received a lukewarm response. The first single ‘Sunglasses At Night’ and accompanying trend setting video generated modest sales & airplay but it was only after the US success in the summer of 1984 that Corey Hart became a superstar in his homeland.

Corey then signed a deal with the US and ‘Sunglasses At Night’ was released in May 1984 and it climbed up the US Billboard Charts as Corey crisscrossed America on a press promotion & radio blitz, resulting in an extensive live concert tour as an opening act for Rick Springfield and Hall & Oates. ‘Sunglasses At Night’ peaked at #7 on the US singles chart after spending 17 weeks in the Top 40. It was followed by the US Billboard Top 20 hit ‘It Ain’t Enough’. Corey Hart’s first album was certified Platinum in the US and 4 times Platinum in Canada.

His follow-up album was the chart-topping ‘Boy in the Box’ which reached Diamond status in Canada selling over One Million copies in 1986, becoming only the second Canadian album to ever do so. It featured the anthemic ballad hit ‘Never Surrender’ which spent a heady 9 consecutive weeks at Number #1 in Canada peaking at # 3 on the US Billboard Charts. It also received US ASCAP song of the year honors in 1985 and Juno for ‘Single Of The Year’. “It was such a thrill for me because the legendary Gordon Lightfoot presented me with my award” remarked Hart.

Corey Hart was now headlining concerts to sold out Arenas across the country and internationally. He sold out the very same Montreal Forum he had watched Billy Joel perform in 4 years earlier within 2 hours of tickets going on sale. 15,000 frenzied fans waiting to see their idol. It was the same response in Toronto July of 1985 where Corey sold out the 25,000 seat CNE Grandstand & Tokyo’s 13,000 Budokan Arena in Dec 1989.

Hart was offered an opportunity to star in many Hollywood films in the mid-1980s even turning down the opportunity to screen test for the role of Marty McFly in the successful ‘Back To The Future’ trilogy. He also passed on recording several hit songs that he did not write including ‘Danger Zone’ from the Top Gun soundtrack.

One such recording of a cover was the 1987 hit of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ which went straight to number One in Canada and far East as The Philippines and Japan. Corey recorded 2 more albums for EMI in 1988 ‘Young Man Running’ which included the #2 hit ‘In Your Soul’ and ‘Bang!’ in 1990 which yielded the up-tempo rocker ‘A Little Love’ peaking at #10 in Canada and into the US Top 40.

Corey Hart - 2012Corey Hart - 2012In 1993, while attending the Juno awards in Toronto, Corey was introduced to young Quebec chanteuse Julie Masse.  By 1994, the two fell madly in love while working on a recording project in Morin Heights, Quebec. Their intense love for each other and the children have been a unifying purpose to their life’s journey together. Julie and Corey moved to the Bahamas in 1996 and share 4 beautiful children together. Three daughters: India, born in 1995, Dante, in 1997, River, in 1999 and their son Rain in 2004.

Corey signed a new record contract with Sony Music in 1995 and released in 1996 what is arguably for his fans the best album of his career. It was simply entitled ‘Corey Hart’. The album was certified Platinum in Canada and saw Corey return to the stage for his first coast to coast Canadian tour since 1987. The album signaled a renewed confidence and maturity in his songwriting, production and vocal performances. “My first album with Sony remains in my opinion my best work to date. The songs are honest and cohesive in style.’Third Of June’ an ode for Julie’s birthday. ‘India’ for our first precious baby girl and ‘Black Cloud Rain’ is a song I am extremely proud of.” As fatherhood became the focal point in Corey’s life, music was relegated to second place. His last album was released in 1998 entitled ‘Jade’ which featured the French hit song ‘La Bas’ a duet with Julie. “Following the birth of our third daughter River in Nov 1999 I realized that I was facing a serious crossroads in my life. All I had ever wanted or known since I was a boy was to be creating Music. But I couldn’t continue to record or tour if I aspired to be a 24/7 father to our children. The two worlds simply collide. I am only speaking about how I feel, not judging others who seemingly can balance the two. In my reality there is no substitute for time. Raising children within a vortex of the all consuming surreal existence of recording artist and it’s extension of ‘Rock Star’ are simply irreconcilable forces. So I chose to step away from my career in order to be with my children”.

In the summer of 2002, legendary Sire Records President Seymour Stein reached Corey at his home in Nassau with a brave, surprising new idea. Stein had always championed Corey’s musical talents since the 80′s. Upon hearing the two songs Corey had written and produced for Celine Dion’s 1997 Multi Platinum ‘Let’s Talk About Love’ CD, Stein immediately flashed on an idea for him. ‘Corey is an amazing talent. says Stein from his Rockefeller Plaza Sire Offices. ‘I have been a fan ever since Sunglasses At Night. I thought it would be great for him to have his own label and good for Warner. Corey is fearless’.

“Seymour was the architect of Siena Records. says Hart. ‘When he first began to describe the deal I wasn’t totally comfortable with the concept as I don’t see myself as a business mogul type. However, I soon realized that my role was to be creative. The financing, marketing and distribution would flow through my partners at Warmer Music Canada. I am eternally grateful that Seymour did reach out to me. Siena has evolved into one of the most exciting and fulfilling projects of my career”. The label was formed in 2003 with Warner Music Canada President Steve Kane and VP Steve Blair. Corey named it Siena Records after one of his favorite cities in the world Siena, Italy. Thus began the long process of finding the right artistic fit for Corey Hart & Siena. From 2003 – 2006 Hart worked with several potential artists but none of them were that ineffable musical match. He finally found it with Marie-Christine’s ‘Walk In Beauty’ who had the launch of the debut CD to the world in April, 2011.

Corey Hart has it all, talent, success and a wonderful family. Corey Hart has never lost his style and certainly is just as talented as ever. He will be coming home to where it all started  in his hometown – Montreal.  Performing at the prestigious Bell Centre with ‘One Night – Three Decades of Music’on May 31, 2104, Quebec will be happy to welcome home their prodigal son. Maybe Corey will wear his sunglasses at night on Crescent Street.

Sunglasses At Night