Home Feature 4 Canadian female roots record producers in honour of International Women’s Day

4 Canadian female roots record producers in honour of International Women’s Day

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So there I was, scrolling around Facebook, not looking for anything in particular, when I came upon a post from Jay Aymar asking people to name their favourite Canadian roots record producers.

Of course, people immediately named Steve Dawson and Colin Linden, two stalwarts of the genre, both epically talented.

Various other names were put forward too, including Bill Garrett, Paul Mills, Jim Bryson and Ian Tamblyn.

But nobody mentioned any women.

Now, to be fair, male record producers outnumber women by about 19 to one, according to data compiled by Statista.

But it seems like kind of a weird time to be ignoring them, given that one of the absolute giants in our industry in Canada right now is Hill Kourkoutis, a woman.

So in honour of International Women’s Day tomorrow, here are four female Canadian roots record producers to check out.

1. Hill Kourkoutis

In 2022, Hill became the first woman to win a Juno for Recording Engineer of the Year, in part for her work with Tania Joy. She’s also been nominated for Producer of the Year for her work with Aysanabee among others. In fact Hill is the producer behind much of that friggin’ awesome Ishkode Records catalogue, including Digging Roots’ Zhawenim and Amanda Rheaume’s latest work. She’s also worked with Madison Violet, Sandra Bouza, Jill Barber, Leela Gilday, and Royal Wood. For my money, one of her greatest talents is taking songs like Digging Roots’ “The Healer” and Aysanabee’s “We Were Here” and building them out until they’re veritable anthems. Have a listen.

2. Roma Baran

Originally a member of Penny Lang’s band in Montreal, Roma later settled in New York, where she partnered with Viv Stoll and became known for her work producing Laurie Anderson, Rosalie Sorrels, Kate and Anna McGarrigle and later Penny, Annabelle Chvostek and Bitch. In addition to producing albums, Roma earned an Oscar nomination for her work co-producing the documentary film Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann. Not bad!!

3. Erin Costelo

You know that amazing album Grenades by Kaia Kater — the one where she starts to shift away from the raw Appalachian sound that had defined her up to that point and experiment with sultry, sophisticated country and even jazzy vibes? That was Erin Costelo that did that! More recently, she has worked with Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Leanne Hoffman.

4. Denise De’ion

Haviah Mighty is pretty much the queen of Canadian hip hop these days, and we’ve featured some of her stuff here on Roots Music Canada because tracks like “Atlantic” tackle big topics like the economic exploitation of Black people throughout history. Well you know who produced “Coulda Been U” on her mixtape Stock Exchange? Denise De’ion, that’s who!

 

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