Singer-Songwriter, Producer, Musician
Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section called
“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”
By David Eisenstadt
TORONTO, Dec 5, 2021 – As co-founder of the iconic Canadian group Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page’s career soared until he left to pursue a solo career in February 2009. He was the primary songwriter, lead singer and guitarist, with a distinct and powerful voice.
Page was born in Toronto on June 22, 1970 to Jo-Anne (née Simmons) and Vic Page. Though Page’s father converted to Judaism to appease his mother’s parents, his maternal grandparents disowned Jo-Anne because of the mixed marriage.
His father and brother Matthew are drummers. Steven took piano lessons for 10 years, “which he claimed he never learned to play”, wrote Craig Jones in Canadian Musician. He also sang in Toronto’s Mendelssohn Youth Choir.
Page attended Woburn Collegiate High School, befriending Ed Robertson. Both were Scarborough Schools Music Camp counsellors in the summer of 1988. They played a charity gig that year which led to naming their band, Barenaked Ladies.
Steven Page & Ed Robertson | The Junos Pre-Show with Tom Power
>>> Click HERE to watch this video <<<
On Maroon (2000) and Everything to Everyone in 2003, Page wrote most of the songs. Of the 113 tunes on the band’s primary studio albums (not including holiday or children’s albums) 97 are Page credited or co-credited with Robertson. In 2002, they shared a SOCAN International Achievement Award for “Pinch Me”.
Band members Kevin Hearn and Jim Creegan also wrote in their own voices. Robertson often sang lead on his songs. That didn’t include “If I Had a Million Dollars” which highlighted a call and response lead vocal from Robertson and Page. On nine of the 11 tracks on Rock Spectacle, the band’s first album, Page sang lead.
In 2009, concerned about his BL future, Page reluctantly was involved with the production of the Barenaked for the Holidays and Snacktime! recordings. He told the Ottawa Citizen‘s Heath McCoy that “it was fun to do, it wasn’t my idea. I was along for the ride.”
Barenaked Ladies Reunion Performance | Juno Awards 2018
>>> Click HERE to watch the video <<<
With the band preparing to record a new album, Page wasn’t on really on board. The Citizen‘s McCoy reported, “Page believed that his much-publicized drug arrest in Syracuse, NY hastened his already imminent split with the band.”
Page told the Boston Herald‘s Jed Gottlieb, “the band was no longer the joyous place it once was, but it hadn’t been joyous for a long time before that. It wasn’t that we didn’t put on good shows, we still had a great time on stage. But it became a place where work was about the stress and not the end product. And (the arrest and band tension) made me gather the strength to do what I always wanted to do.”
After he departed, Page wrote music for the Stratford Festival’s first production of Bartholomew Fair: A Comedy, in the summer of 2009. His first solo release was A Singer Must Die, a studio recording of performed concert songs. He released Songbook II in 2010 and Songbook 6 in November 2011 with the Art of Time Ensemble. His 2010 release Page One, led to North American tours fronting the Goo Goo Dolls.
Page sang the Canadian national anthem at the National Hockey League’s 2011 Winter Classic and performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at former New Democratic Party (NDP) federal leader Jack Layton’s funeral in 2011.
A confirmed NDP member, Page said, “I grew up in a household where social justice was a fundamental value, and I always believed that it was also a fundamental Canadian as well as a central Jewish value. I’ve watched how the term has been twisted and perverted by the Right over the past several years in an effort to diminish the voices of reason. The open displays of racism and antisemitism, and the chants of ‘Jews Will Not Replace Us’, made me grab my guitar and tell them I’d be more than glad to replace them.”
In 2012, Page was nominated for a Genie Award for writing “A Different Sort of Solitude”, for the film French Immersion. He also composed scores for six Stratford Festival plays and joined the Trans-Canada Highwaymen. Page hosted The Illegal Eater, became a Chopped Canada Champion and was an Iron Chef Canada judge in 2019-20.
Page reconnected with the band in 2018 when they were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He told CBC’s Jesse Kinos-Goodin, “I hadn’t seen the other guys in years, so to be there with them with an audience cheering us on was deeply emotional. Performing, that part for us is so natural. To walk on and put my ear monitors in, it’s as if nothing had changed. Obviously, personally, all kinds of things had changed… but for those moments, it felt just as natural as it did 15 years before that.”
Twice married and with three sons, Page splits his time between homes in Fayetteville, NY and Toronto.
Credits: stevenpage.com; q on cbc/YouTube; CBC Music/You Tube
A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the Category section.
Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.
-Thanks for the article on Steven Page.It was sad for me when the Barenaked Ladies broke up. I don’t believe that the band has ever been the same… – SK, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
-Yes, we remember his tunes and yes we remember him. – A&M B, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
-David, I think you have captured the versatilty of Steven’s musical talent with the Barenaked Ladies and beyond. He does have a strong sense of Jewish identity which is tied to his belief in social justice… – MK, Toronto, Canada
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