He’s an unlikely pioneer sitting in his living room in a pleasant mid-town house in Toronto, genially offering coffee on a bright sunlit winter day.
He’s Daniel Caudeiron, and he’s the 2001 recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award – the “industry achievement” JUNO bestowed for extraordinary behind-the-scenes work in Canada’s music business.
Caudeiron’s achievements have been enormously influential: almost single-handedly, he helped change the save, the style, and the flavour of Canadian music. The explosion of varied genres of black music and the massive revival of dance – prematurely considered dead after the “first disco scare” – can, in large measure, be credited to this man’s consistent work over a 25-year working life in Canada.
Born in Venezuela, he arrived in Canada in 1974 from the Caribbean island of Dominica, where he had been involved in local radio; in Toronto, he studied radio and TV arts at Centennial College and began to come to grips with life in a colder climate. Freelance work for West Indian publications, administrative duties for Black Theatre Canada, and – more importantly – an ongoing job as host and producer of two television shows, Black World and Caribbean Kaleidoscope all engaged him in Toronto’s art community, then only beginning to become the multi-cultural, multi-hued society it is today.
Caudeiron turned his attention from the beginning to the promotion of black music. By the close of the ‘70s, his DJ pool, Cheer, was the pioneering model on which other pools across Canada modeled themselves – and it’s still the leading organization of its type, receiving no less than five Canadian Music Week industry awards between 1995 and 2000 for “Dance Pool of the Year.” Along the way, he organized the Canadian Black Music Awards, which led to his founding the Black Music Association of Canada in the mid-’80s.
The JUNO organization was an early recipient of the Caudeiron message. Persistent lobbying led to the creation of JUNO Awards for dance, R&B/Soul, Rap, Gospel, and Reggae, and he was highly active as a CARAS director throughout most of the ‘90s.
A decade-long involvement with the trade publication The Record, and his role as writer and researcher of the magazine’s annual CanDance issue brought him an even larger industry-wide audience. He has also received the Award of Merit at the 1996 Canadian Reggae Music Awards; induction into The Record’s CanDance Hall of Fame in 1998; a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada in 1999; and recognition earlier this year from Toronto City Council for his contributions and dedication to the Canadian music industry.
Caudeiron’s enthusiasm, depth of knowledge, good nature, and friendly personality earned him both affection and respect from record companies, club DJs, music industry writers and editors, and radio people. The message has always been the same, and has always been positive: “Listen to this! Check out this! Understand that new music, new trends, new ideas, are pouring out of black communities in Canada! Join in! And dance!”
Today, as he sits in his living room, he is as enthusiastic as ever – and, truth be told, he’s a lucky man, and he knows it. Last August, he underwent serious surgery following a brain hemorrhage, and he has made a near-perfect recovery.
“The support I’ve had from family and friends has been remarkable. And this honour is something I am accepting with humility. I regard it as a reward, if you will, for the support I’ve ‘Cheer’-fully given to the artists, their music, and the industry as a whole.”
Written by Richard Flohill