Valdy (b Valdemar Horsdal). Singer-songwriter, guitarist, b Ottawa, of Danish parents, 1946. Valdy began his career playing guitar in rock and country groups. In 1966 he made his home in British Columbia, where he farmed for several years near Sooke. Adopting a country-folk style, he performed in Victoria coffee houses and in 1972 came to national notice with his 'Rock and Roll Song' (from the LP Country Man, Haida HL-5101). Other popular singles for Haida and A & M followed 1973-6: his own songs 'A Good Song' and 'Simple Life,' and David Bradstreet's 'Renaissance (Let's Dance That Old Dance)'. Valdy has also recorded several songs by Bob Ruzicka, including 'Yes I Can (Anyway You Want Me).'
A second Haida LP, Landscapes (HL-5104), was followed 1975-80 by four for A & M: Family Gathering (SP-9103), Valdy and the Hometown Band (SP-4592), Hot Rocks (SP-9034) and the 'best of' collection Passport (SP-9038). His first four LPs each sold more than 50,000 copies in Canada. Valdy appeared in this period in concert and at folk festivals, latterly with the Hometown Band (Claire Lawrence), which brought elements of rock and jazz to his music. Valdy also performed in the US and sang at the 1976 International Song Festival, Sopot, Poland. He received Juno Awards for outstanding performance in 1972 and as folk singer of the year in 1973.
Although less prominent during the 1980s, Valdy remained a fixture on the Canadian folk circuit and also appeared for children and, on occasion, with symphony orchestras, maintaining a yearly itinerary of some 200 performances. He released three more LPs: Valdy (1980, Sloth SL-1001), Valdy's Kid's Record (1982, Sloth SL-1003), and Notes from Places (Duke Street DSR-31010, which included a version of Ron Hynes's 'Sonny's Dream,' a country hit in 1985). To his early concern as a songwriter for environmental and social causes, he added a decided political slant with such titles as 'Living Next to a Candy Store' (re the Canada-US Free Trade agreement, 1988), 'Ten Little White Men - The Ballad of Meech Lake' (1990), and 'Hey Mr. Michael Wilson' (re the Goods and Services Tax, 1990). His, however, has generally been a voice of concern and caution rather than anger, the passion of his message moderated by his sweet, relaxed tenor.
1990s and Beyond
In the 1990s he continued to tour and perform extensively, and made another three albums. Heart @ Work (Peg Music, 1993, PMT 012) includes the anti-war song "When Peace Comes to the Valley." Smorgas Bard (Rack-On-Tour, 1996, ROT101) saw the launch of Valdy's own record label, Rack-On-Tour. This album features a duet with Senator Tommy Banks on "Double Solitaire." The notion of duets blossomed with the album Contenders (Stony Plain, 1999, SPCD-1262), a collaboration with cowboy singer/songwriter Gary Fjellgaard. The two toured extensively throughout Canada, and continue to perform together frequently. Valdy released a double CD in 2003: Viva Valdy: Live at Last (Rack-On-Tour, ROT 22152) includes one CD of studio recordings and one of live performances.
Valdy is an energetic performer, famous for jigging and dancing on stage, and establishing rapport with young and adult audiences alike. To date he has 14 albums, 22 singles, and four gold records, and has sold nearly half a million units worldwide. Since 1974 he has received 12 Juno nominations. His songs have been recorded by many other artists; perhaps the biggest genre leap occurred when "A Good Song" was recorded under the title "Just a Man" by American jazz artist Quincy Jones.
Valdy has twice been a panelist on CBC-TV's Front Page Challenge and had a lead role on one episode of The Beachcombers. He continues to perform concerts in the US (he is a favourite at the annual Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas), Europe, and Australia. He lives on Saltspring Island, BC.