I’ve been a CBC Radio listener for… let’s see… virtually forever! I've really enjoyed the range of programing and appreciate how “the Corp.” keeps our notion of Canada alive vs. the media onslaught we get from south of the border.
And yet, is it not CBC’s mandate to celebrate worthy Canadians? I sure think it is. So, if that’s the case, perhaps someone can help me understand why our national broadcasting network is unprepared to commemorate a Canadian who is one of the 20th century's most enduring musical talents. I’m talking about a girl named Ruth Lowe, who wrote a song that dynamited Frank Sinatra's career into the stratosphere in 1940. In fact, “I’ll Never Smile Again” charted on Billboard for an unheard of 12 weeks. As Nancy Sinatra writes in the Foreword to “Until I Smile At You”, the book I’ve written about Ruth, "There’s a reason why 'I’ll Never Smile Again' has endured: it was a perfect song, interpreted by the perfect singer, at the perfect time.” Oh, and by the way, Miss Lowe was no one-hit-wonder: she went on to write Sinatra’s theme song, “Put Your Dreams Away”, plus 50 other tunes for Broadway and Hollywood! Amazingly, no one has been privy to her life story until now. I was personally selected by her family to write a book about her that's just been published.
Now, let me make it clear, this isn’t about me. I’ve been interviewed on radio and TV and in print tons of times: I don’t need more grandeur. No, this is a serious rant against the CBC for overlooking a hero.
Tom Sandler, Ruth’s son, who I wrote the book with, has been after the CBC to recognize his mom. So have I. Between us, we’ve sent information to shows like The Next Chapter, Q, The Current, Metro Morning, Ontario Morning, Sunday Magazine, etc. But you know what: they seem oblivious to the fact that Ruth Lowe is feted south of the border where she’s been called “one of the architects of the American Ballad”, she is the recipient of a Grammy Award and she’s about to be added to the Great American Songbook Foundation Hall of Fame. And yet the CBC can’t find it in their programming to even recognize her? Clearly, they know how to celebrate their heroes in the U.S. What a shame our national radio network doesn’t.
Get this: “The Next Chapter”, a show on CBC about books, just featured a conversation with an Egyptian author who’s written a vegan cookbook. Really? That outclasses an award winning lady who’s created a song that’s still being recorded today (“Until I Smile At You” opens in studio as famed Blood, Sweat & Tears singer David Clayton-Thomas records his own unique version of the song)? For shame Shelagh Rogers!
I should add that in today's era of women claiming their full rights, consider that Ruth Lowe was one of the earliest liberated females who worked in a man's world and never let her gender, nor her attractive good looks, get in the way of her outstanding talent. And there’s even a CBC connection to this story: Percy Faith, then working as the host of CBC’s Music By Faith, heard Ruth’s song (she worked there too) and asked to score it and play it on his show. Before Tommy Dorsey or Frank Sinatra ever got to hear the song, the CBC scooped it first! They recognized class back then. But I guess that doesn’t count anymore, does it? Apparently not at the CBC.
I’ve even written to Catherine Tait, CBC’s President and CEO, to lament this fact. Did I get a reply? Nope. For shame Ms. Tait!
Politicians have been building a rallying cry to have the CBC’s budget significantly reduced. I’ve fought against this. Until now. Sorry CBC, I can’t support you any longer. Not if you’re not going to support Canada!