Ron Hynes

Ron Hynes, singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor (born 7 December 1950 in St. John's, NL; died 19 November 2015 in St. John’s). One of Canada's most esteemed songwriters, Ron Hynes is often referred to as the “man of a thousand songs.” His debut solo album, Discovery (1972), was the first album of entirely original material by a Newfoundland artist. He is best known for the 1976 folk classic “Sonny’s Dream,” which has been covered by more than 200 artists, including Emmylou Harris, Stan Rogers and Great Big Sea. Hynes won a Genie Award and numerous East Coast Music Awards. He was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020.

Ron Hynes, singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor (born 7 December 1950 in St. John's, NL; died 19 November 2015 in St. John’s). One of Canada's most esteemed songwriters, Ron Hynes is often referred to as the “man of a thousand songs.” His debut solo album, Discovery (1972), was the first album of entirely original material by a Newfoundland artist. He is best known for the 1976 folk classic “Sonny’s Dream,” which has been covered by more than 200 artists, including Emmylou Harris, Stan Rogers and Great Big Sea. Hynes won a Genie Award and numerous East Coast Music Awards. He was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020.


Ron Hynes, musician

Early Career

Ron Hynes began his career in the late 1960s on the St. John's and Toronto pub and coffeehouse circuits. His first solo album, Discovery (1972), was the first album of entirely original material by a Newfoundland artist. From 1974 to 1976, Hynes was the composer-in-residence for the Mummers Troupe, a St. John's theatre company.

In 1976, Hynes released the folk classic “Sonny's Dream.” The song has been covered by more than 200 artists, including Emmylou Harris, Stan Rogers and Great Big Sea. From 1978 to 1983, Hynes performed with the Wonderful Grand Band, a successful folk-rock and comedy collective he formed with a number of Newfoundland musicians and CODCO comedians.

Songwriting

By 1992, Hynes had amassed an extensive collection of original songs and had signed a recording contract with EMI Music Canada. Although his two EMI-endorsed albums, Cryer's Paradise (1993) and Face to the Gale (1996), achieved little commercial success, they were critically acclaimed and allowed him to establish a national fan base. Despite his growing success, Hynes was dropped by the label. He independently released his next three albums: 11:11 Newfoundland Women Sing (1997), Standing in Line in the Rain (1998), and The Sandcastle Sessions (2002). In 2002, Hynes signed with the folk label Borealis. He subsequently released Get Back Change (2003), Ron Hynes (2006), and Stealing Genius (2010).


One of Canada's most esteemed songwriters, Hynes’s songs have been recorded by countless Canadian and international artists, including Dolores Keane, Denny Doherty, Hayley Westenra,  The Irish DescendantsJohn McDermott, Mary Black, Murray McLauchlanPrairie Oyster, and Susan Aglukark. Hynes's songs are primarily acoustic, and while rooted in folk and country music, they also incorporate aspects of rock and pop. A gifted storyteller, he writes lyrics that chronicle the experiences of everyday people and often make reference to his home province of Newfoundland.

Hynes has frequently written songs in collaboration with his ex-wife, Connie Hynes; the 1997 release 11:11 Newfoundland Women Sing comprises a collection of their songs.

Acting and Documentaries

In addition to his music career, Hynes also found success as an actor. He made his theatre debut as celebrated Newfoundland balladeer Johnny Burke in The Bard of Prescott Street (1977) and appeared in a number of Canadian film and television productions. He was also featured in the documentary films Ron Hynes: The Irish Tour (1999), directed by Rosemary House; and The Man of a Thousand Songs, directed by William D. MacGillivray, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.


Awards

In 1992, Hynes's song "The Final Breath," from the film Secret Nation (1992), earned him a Genie Award for best original song. In 1994, Hynes received a  Juno Award nomination for best country male vocalist of the year. He won numerous East Coast Music Awards, including country recording of the year ( Cryer's Paradise), male artist of the year, and song of the year ("Man of a Thousand Songs") in 1994; album of the year and country recording of the year (Get Back Change) in 2004; and male solo recording of the year (Ron Hynes) in 2007. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Memorial University in 2002, and was nominated for best singer (contemporary) and best songwriter (English) at the 2006 Canadian Folk Music Awards. In 2008 Hynes was recognized with a National Achievement Award from SOCAN for his success in songwriting. He was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame during the East Coast Music Awards in July 2020.


Further Reading

  • Harvey Sawler, One Man Grand Band: The Lyric Life of Ron Hynes (2016).

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