CLASS OF 2019

GRANT SMITH

GRANT SMITH

2020 Inductee

Grant Smith, a powerhouse R&B singer, was born and raised in London. At the age of 16, he was “asked to leave” Wheable High school. He was sitting around the house doing nothing, when his mother handed him a classified ad for a drummer needed for musical comedy act and told him to get the job or move out. He got the job, joining Zeke and the Moonshiners and setting out on the road. After a few months he convinced the band to drop the slapstick comedy and change their name to the Missing Links. Members of that band eventually joined an act from Toronto, Grant moved out front on the microphones and Grant Smith and the Power (or sometimes EG Smith and the Power) was born. They started out playing high school dances all over Ontario and Quebec and during their first year and their upbeat R&B sound and Grant’s wild dance moves helped them establish a solid fan base. The band was constantly on the road, but anytime they played London it would be a sell out. In the fall of 1967, the band recorded its debut single, an R&B version of "Keep on Running" backed with "Her Own Life", an original composition by Grant Smith and organist Val Stevens. "Keep on Running" was released in January 1968, on Boo! Records. This was followed by an album on the same label. They began a tour in the United States and in New York City the band was offered a deal by Tony Orlando, pop star and A&R man for MGM, and in the early spring, the single "Thinkin' About You" was released on MGM Records. In 1970 Grant Smith and The Power relocated to Las Vegas, where they had a successful run. Even after the demise of the band, Grant continued to work in Vegas, as a singer for jingle writers, a choreographer, and as an entertainer, landing him numerous return engagements to Caesars Palace. Grant also produced and acted in television movies, hosted the Miss Teen Canada Pageant and Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethon, and made several appearances on everything from the Tommy Hunter Show to the Juno Awards. Smith starred, directed and co- produced Red White and Hot! a Vegas-style variety show featured at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Back in Toronto, Grant has also been working on a novel and produced a documentary on Elvis Presley fans, Mentally Elvis.

Niosi Brothers

Niosi Brothers

2020 Inductee

Bert, Joe and John Niosi were staples of the big band community in Canada. Joe was acclaimed as the best bassist in Canada, Johnny a sought- after drummer and Bartolo (Bert), a band leader who played both woodwind and brass instruments. There’s a famous story about him once playing every instrument in his 14-piece band except for the bass fiddle — he didn’t play strings apparently— during a Second World War benefit concert. Like the young Lombardos, the Niosis were pupils of Prof. Pasquale Venuta at the The Marconi Club of London. At 14 Bert went with the Lombardos to the USA for a successful six-week engagement in Cleveland but left the band after the tour as he missed home and his mother missed him. When he returned to London, he formed his first band with Joe and Johnny, which by 1931 became a nine-piece orchestra. In 1932 they expanded the band again and moved to the Palais Royale dance hall in Toronto where, in an 18-year residence, Bert became known as 'Canada's King of Swing'. Joe Niosi left the orchestra to tour Britain with Ray Noble’s orchestra in 1938. Johnnie played with an RCAF band in Ottawa after he left his brother's orchestra in 1942. After the war, The brothers embarked on a career with the CBC, Joe and Bert as members of the Happy Gang, a lunch time radio variety show that was one of the most popular shows in Canada with more than two million listeners, and Johnny as a member of the house band for the After Hours television program. In the 1960s, the three brothers reunited to play background music for the CBC-TV panel show Front Page Challenge. Bert went on to be music director of the TV series Four for the Show, Cross-Canada Hit Parade, and, 1965-76, The Tommy Hunter Show. John passed away in 1965, followed by Joe in 1977 and Bert in 1987.

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