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Blacksheep Inn Performance. 5 Dec 2008
|Birth name||Craig Cardiff|
|Born||(1976-07-09) 9 July 1976 (age 36)|
Craig Cardiff (born 9 July 1976) is a Canadian folk singer from Waterloo, Ontario, who is known for his soft voice and digital vocal and guitar loops and for the connections he makes with his fans. He now lives in Arnprior, Ontario.
In 2012, Cardiff was nominated for a Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo and for a Canadian Folk Music Award as Contemporary Singer of the Year.
Cardiff has offered at least one new release almost every year, and his catalogue includes live albums, studio albums, collaborations with other artists and tributes to songwriters he admires. Over the years, he has experimented with various recording styles and distribution platforms for his albums – one release, Mistletoe (Kissing Songs), was recorded entirely on an iPod Touch.
Cardiff’s latest album is Floods and Fires – and it is considered his most ambitious in scope, both musically and lyrically.
Where most of his releases have been recorded live or off the floor, Cardiff chose to take his time with this album. He worked with producer/engineer Ben Leggett of North Bay, Ontario, to record the album in a studio they built in Cardiff’s Arnprior farmhouse and worked on the album over the course of 18 months.
During the recording process, Leggett came to live with Cardiff and his six-year-old daughter, Rowan, so that working on Floods and Fires could fit into the normal course of Cardiff’s life.
"For me, it was about wanting to not wonder what a song could’ve sounded like if more time had been given to it," says Cardiff. "That was a huge part of it. The other piece was finding ways to record that work for me as opposed to work for other people."
A long-time advocate of alternate touring, Cardiff has played in camps, backyards, prisons, churches, basements, festivals, kitchens and anywhere people want to hear him. He has performed in more than 500 living rooms in the last 15 years.
Throughout his career, Cardiff has played with and opened for Glen Phillips, Lucy Kaplansky, Dan Bern, Natalia Zukerman, Andy Stochansky, Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards, Blue Rodeo, Gordon Downie, Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean, Skydiggers, 54-40 and more.
Cardiff was nominated for a 2012 Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Solo for Floods and Fires. He was up against eventual winner Bruce Cockburn, David Francey, Dave Gunning and Lindi Ortega.
Floods and Fires also garnered a nominated for Cardiff as Contemporary Singer of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Other nominees were Rose Cousins (who won), Keri Latimer, Geraldine Hollett for The Once, and Catherine MacLellan.
In the lead-up to the 2012 Juno Awards ceremony in Ottawa, Cardiff had the opportunity to perform his song Safe Here (from his 2011 album Foods and Fires) with former Canadian governor general Michaёlle Jean and pianist Nick Roy at the University of Ottawa.
On 26 March 2012, the trio kicked off the Juno Pianos project – which encouraged Juno nominees and members of the public to celebrate Juno Week by playing pianos that had been placed in public spaces all around Ottawa - with this performance. Jean translated the chorus of Safe Here into French, and, after singing, she told the audience that this is a song she can relate to, as she would ask herself on several occasions "am I safe here?" when she arrived in Canada in 1968 after leaving her native country of Haiti.
For the past 12 years, Cardiff has made a point of taking the time to offer workshops at schools, camps, festivals and churches throughout North America.
In June 2011, Cardiff participated in TEDxUWO at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. The theme of this inaugural conference was Own Your Passion, and Cardiff gave a presentation called Fear is the Cheapest Room in the House in which he spoke about being open and passionate and choosing not to be afraid and also shared some of his songs that relate to those ideas.
In 2010, Cardiff and Leggett re-recorded Cardiff’s song Barney and Miriam, a tribute to the Mordecai Richler novel Barney’s Version that had previously been released on Ginger’s on Barrington Street with Rose Cousins in 2003, during sessions for the album Floods and Fires. The song was featured in the Canadian comedy-drama Barney’s Version.
More recently, Cardiff’s work was featured in the soundtrack for an independent Canadian film that was named Audience Choice Best Feature at the Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival in September 2012. Cardiff teamed up with Leggett once again to compose the soundtrack for In Return, a dark romantic comedy written and directed by Chris Dymond. The film features original compositions by Cardiff and Leggett, Cardiff’s songs from Floods and Fires, and songs by Ontario bands The Famly and Faraway Neighbours.
Whenever he performs, Cardiff passes around a notebook he calls the Book of Truths. He invites audience members to write what’s in their heart in these books, and it becomes one more way to connect with audience members that he doesn’t always get a chance to talk to.
"I feel like I’ve had this one-way conversation for the past 15 years that I’ve been performing with so many audience members," he says. "Part of it is I just felt egotistical that I’d been having this longwinded one-way conversation for so long and to sort of invite people to share themselves a little bit, because that’s what I feel you do when you perform."
Cardiff believes the Book of Truths reveals not only what matters to people, but also how much people have in common.
"I feel like everybody’s a little bit broken, and everybody has the same capacity and range of terribleness and beautifulness and light," he says.
A number of Cardiff’s songs have been inspired by notes he read in the Book of Truths, and in 2011, he printed his first edition of the Book of Truths, which he sells through his website and at shows.
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