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Tribute to Kenny Shields


The Late Kenny Shields

Hon. David Tkachuk: On July 1 of this year, Kenny Shields took ill while performing in Edmonton. On July 21, he died at a Winnipeg hospital with his wife, Elena, his daughter, Julia, and close friends at his side. He died at his adopted home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he and his band, Streetheart, lived and worked. He moved there from Saskatoon, and he moved to Saskatoon from the small town of Nokomis, Saskatchewan, where he was laid to rest on Saturday, September 2.

He came home. He was 69 years old.

Fifty years ago, as leader of a band called Witness, from Saskatoon, they had two songs on the New York Billboard Charts —“Jezebel” and “Harlem Lady”. Well before the Juneau policy on Canadian music, Shields was proving that Canadian music sells on its own merit.


In 1969, a car accident almost took his life and he endured a long convalescence. Many thought he would not return to the industry. He did, singing with two Regina bands before starting Streetheart in Saskatoon and then moving to Winnipeg.

Streetheart earned six gold albums, four platinum albums, a gold single, two Ampex Golden Reel awards and a Music Express Peoples Choice Award as most popular Canadian act.

Classic rock songs were “Hollywood,” “Here Comes the Night” and the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” which Kenny made his own. Listen to it once and it’s hard to go back to the Rolling Stones original. “Tin Soldier” and “What Kind of Love Is This” are other great songs that topped the Canadian charts.

In September 2003, Streetheart were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Association Hall of Fame. He devoted his time to Telemiracle in Saskatchewan, a local charity that has raised millions.

He sang his whole life. It is why we all loved him. All one has to do is read the fans’ reactions on websites and Facebook posts to understand that he affected our lives and not just of one generation but many.

The world of music and its participants tell us stories of love and country, friendship, sadness and joy. Without it, it would be a world we would not enjoy. Those who practise it are special.

Kenny Shields personified the world of music. He worked at his craft and made us better for it. He was a professional; on paying your admission, you always got your money’s worth and more. He represented the music industry oh so well.

If you want a treat, go to iTunes, search Kenny Shields and you will find a solo album with Kenny Shields singing “I’m Sorry” by Brenda Lee and “The Thrill is Gone,” originally done by B.B. King.

The Senate of Canada is presenting medals to celebrate Canadians who have made us a better place and have made significant contributions to our country. I will present one to him posthumously. His wife Elena will accept it on his behalf this November.

On September 6, Saskatchewan celebrated Kenny Shields Day. We mourned him and we celebrated his music.

On behalf of all senators and the Senate of Canada, thank you Kenny Shields and condolences to his wife Elena, his daughter Julia, all his family and to the band Streetheart.