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David Wiffen, seen here in a publicity photo from the early 1970s, will be honoured September 14.

David Wiffen Day celebrates accomplished singer-songwriter—09.14.19

By Joyce MacPhee on September 9, 2019


Fans of one of Canada’s most iconic singer-songwriters will soon have some opportunities to celebrate their folk hero. David Wiffen will be honoured on Saturday, September 14.

For starters, the day has been declared David Wiffen Day by the City of Ottawa. “Whereas, Ottawa resident Mr. David Wiffen is one of Canada’s most respected songwriters and recording artists…” begins the official proclamation, which goes on to describe some of his many accomplishments. These include being a member of the bands 3’s a Crowd and The Children, performing across Canada and in the United States, releasing five successful solo albums and hosting a television variety show.

Wiffen is as equally admired for his rich baritone voice as he is for his instrumental talents (piano and guitar) and songwriting prowess. His songs have been recorded by the likes of Anne Murray, Harry Belafonte, The Byrds, Ian & Sylvia, Jerry Jeff Walker, Eric Andersen, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Tom Rush, The Cowboy Junkies and members of the Black Crowes.

When I moved to Ottawa in the sixties it was, and always has been, a city with a fine and robust pool of musical talent. It is one of the many reasons I have for living here.—David Wiffen

From 10am to noon on September 14, Wiffen will be featured in a two-hour radio special on Canadian Spaces, the longest running folk music program on Canadian radio. An impressive list of musicians will join host Chris White in the CKCU-FM studio to share anecdotes and play their favourite David Wiffen songs live, with David and his wife Joanne in attendance. Tune in to CKCU-FM (93.1 FM and to hear Tom Wilson, Lynn Miles, Sneezy Waters, Neville Wells, Julie Corrigan, Sandy Crawley, Ray Harris, Frank Koller and Don Marcotte showcase Wiffen’s work.

David Wiffen performing at the Ottawa Folk Festival in 1995. Photo: Joyce MacPhee.

These musicians will also perform in a tribute concert dubbed Wiffenfest at CityFolk Festival at Lansdowne Park that evening. Wiffen will also be presented with the Helen Verger Award, which is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to folk/roots music in Canada. Past winners include Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Colleen Peterson and Sylvia Tyson.

In June 2019, musician Ray Harris interviewed Wiffen and played his music on Canadian Spaces. This broadcast renewed interest in Wiffen’s music and the rest of the events developed organically.

“I think he is an important artist who should be known better than he is,” said Harris. “Songs like ‘Driving Wheel’ and ‘More Often than Not’ have been recorded by so many incredible artists.”

Although a long-time resident of Ottawa, Wiffen was born in England. He came to Canada at the age of 16, moving with his family to Toronto and eventually settling in Ottawa.

Singer-songer David Wiffen at his home in 2019. Photo: Joanne Wiffen

“I am very proud to represent the nation’s capital and to be included among such a stellar group of my peers as this year’s recipient of the Helen Verger Award in recognition of my musical contributions,” said Wiffen. “I am also thrilled to have my music interpreted by this fine group of musical friends. When I moved to Ottawa in the sixties it was, and always has been, a city with a fine and robust pool of musical talent. It is one of the many reasons I have for living here.”

Tune in to CKCU-FM (93.1 FM and to hear the two-hour radio special on Canadian Spaces. The special tribute to David Wiffen will take place Saturday, September 14 at 7pm on the Ravenlaw Stage. Tickets to CityFolk are available online.