The hidden date for this stamp can be found along the right edge of the stamp.
It wasn't that long ago that some Canadian musicians had a hard time getting recognition in their own country. Before 1960, almost all records sold in Canada were by foreign performers. Not so today. Not only have Canadians focused their attention on the stars in their own backyard, but Canadian performers are also capturing the spotlight on the international stage.
On June 29, Canada Post will issue a set of four domestic rate (52¢) stamps to celebrate Canadian music icons: Joni Mitchell, Paul Anka, Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot. This issue follows last summer's popular Canadians in Hollywood issue.
"Creating these stamps is Canada Post's way of giving something back to these very talented artists, who have given so much to Canadians," says Liz Wong, manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. Wong adds that the four stamps are only the second Canada Post issue to honour living Canadians, the first being Oscar Peterson in 2005. "Trivia buffs may notice that living Canadians honoured on a postage stamp have something in common-they've all received the Order of Canada," says Wong.
The CD-shaped Canadian Recording Artists booklets, available with eight stamps, will also put a new spin on this type of collectible. There are four different booklets, with each cover featuring the image of one of the recording artists. Inside, the stamps are arranged in one of four different orders, with the singer featured on the cover appearing in the top-left position. The booklets also include envelope seals and information about the featured artist. In addition, a souvenir sheet, OFDC and postcards are available.
Robert L. Peters of Winnipeg's Circle Design Inc. says his design team was very enthusiastic about working with "living legends" while they developed the Canadian Recording Artists issue. "We tried to portray the distinctive personality of each performer," Peters explains. "And, we wanted to depict them at a significant moment in their careers."
Inspired by album covers, each stamp is square in format and features a photo of the artist along with distinctively styled fonts appropriate to the era. As some of the photos were taken over 30 years ago, obtaining suitable originals and approvals involved a significant amount of research.
To reflect the glamour and prestige of the recording artists, Peters incorporated a distinctive MetalFX® process. "The MetalFX process involves under-printing in metallic silver ink, then over-printing with other colours," says Peters. "The result gives a lustrous sheen to the artists' portraits and lends a 'platinum album' feel to the shiny, disc-shaped stamp booklets and souvenir sheet."
The stamps went through various design refinements before reaching their final form. "Like human gestation, designing a stamp is a simple but complex process," Peters explains. "It takes about nine months to do, and you can't rush it."
Joni Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943, in Fort McLeod, Alberta, and raised in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. She was a creative tot, showing an interest in poetry, painting and music, as well as studying classical piano from the age of seven. She attended the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, but left the school to give her creative flair free rein and perform in clubs and coffeehouses as a folk singer. Success came quickly. Singer David Crosby opened doors for Mitchell's first self-titled album, also known as Song to a Seagull, and her third album, Ladies of the Canyon, went gold.
With song lyrics such as those in "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Woodstock," Mitchell's story-telling ability is as admired as her musical talent, and once led a Detroit critic to say: "If she knew only three chords, her performance would be justified by her songs alone." Some of the numerous awards she has received during her 30-year career include the Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and an induction to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Mitchell has produced 27 albums, and the most recent, Songs of a Prairie Girl, illustrates her ties to her rural Canadian roots. "This (album)...is my contribution to Saskatchewan's Centennial celebrations," Mitchell said. "I recommend that you get yourself a hot beverage and stand by the heater as you listen to these musical tales of long, cold winters with a hint of short but glorious summers."