Louis Simão’s homage to his late father, Luis José Correia Simão, has earned him the award for World Solo Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
The 45-year-old’s debut album A Luz, meaning The Light in Portuguese, picked up the accolade in November.
But winning was the furthest thing from the jazz and folk musician’s mind when sharing the news about it during a December phone call.
“The thing I worked towards was making the album, performing the album and there are opportunities for artists to apply for awards,” Simão said. “I was pleasantly surprised when I was nominated. To win was the icing on the cake.”
The multi-instrumentalist and oft side-musician went about the production of the album collaborating with friends David French, Rich Brown and Wagner Petrili, among others.
As the music choices materialized, so did the theme of the A Luz. Simão’s dad died in 2009 and passing into the light.
“It felt natural to name the record after that and the duality of the light that one might see when they pass on,” he said. “It’s not about (religion), but it’s about passing through that light from this world from whatever’s next.”
Music was always a fixture in his household and his father was a big reason. He encouraged his two children to pursue music. The younger Simão complied.
The album also coincided with the birth of his daughter, who is now two. Petrili provided the lyrics for a stripped-down version — acoustic guitar and vocals — of the title track.
Though it’s the first solo album, Simão has had a career that’s spanned over 20 years. He’s played for Nelly Furtado, Justin Rutledge, Luis Marie Ochoa and Sophie Milman. Not too shabby for a man who first learned music via learning the accordion at age 7. It was from there that he learned acoustic guitar, bass, and piano all before attending York University.
He still plays the accordion and will reconnect with friend Kiran Ahluwalia on the Canadian leg of her tour.
“It’s a physical instrument. It’s not a forgiving instrument,” he said. “You really have to pick it up every day.”
His schedule is packed for the next few months, but once April strums its way into sight, the Wychwood resident will gladly perform A Luz.
The award-winning album is available on his website, simaomusic.com.
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