MARIA President Receives Order of Canada

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The president of MARIA's board of directors has been given this country's highest national honour, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson announced on August 30. Singer/songwriter and activist Heather Bishop, whose incredible career as has spanned over three decades, will become a member of the Order of Canada in September, along with four other Manitobans. Bishop was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2001, the highest honour the province can bestow.

As one of the top selling independent artists in Canada, Bishop has pioneered the music industry both artistically and as an entrepreneur. With 13 albums - including four critically-acclaimed albums for children - and numerous awards under her belt, Bishop has performed for children in gymnasiums, for concert goers in front of symphony orchestras, and for folk festival audiences across the globe. Few artists have enjoyed a parallel success with both adult audiences and children, spanning generations as well as genres. Bishop’s career is a model for the entire independent sector of the Canadian music industry, whose artists and record labels are now responsible for more than 20% of all Canadian domestic sales.

"I have been continually struck by Heather's enthusiasm for life, her ability to energize and animate those around her, and her ability to affect positive change in the diverse communities that she occupies," says Sam Baardman, MARIA's executive director. "Heather has lived a big life. As an artist, an activist, and volunteer she has worked to enrich the lives of those around her locally, provincially, nationally and internationally in a variety of fields. She has championed the rights of women, the gay and lesbian community, and independent music industry workers for decades and I can think of few people who have had such a transformative effect on so many."

Bishop’s contribution to the arts community is extraordinary. She is one of the first singer/songwriters in Canada to successfully navigate a career of international scope entirely as an independent artist, producing, marketing, and distributing her recordings from her home base in rural Manitoba through her own Mother of Pearl Records. Bishop helped to found MARIA in 1987 and returned to the board of directors as president in 2000, spearheading a period of transformation that took the organization from a small, struggling not-for-profit association into one of the strongest music industry organizations in the country. She also serves on the board of directors of Manitoba Film & Sound and has been instrumental in developing that organization’s funding programs targeted to the music industry.

Baardman, who has known Bishop for the better part of a decade and who has worked with her directly at MARIA since 2000, is not surprised by her award.

"She has touched the lives of countless Canadians through the force of her convictions, her unwavering sense of justice, her incomparable art, and her spirited volunteerism."

For more information on Heather Bishop, please visit Heather Bishop.

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