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Hawksley Workman

Hawksley Workman Biography

The story of Canadian singer/songwriter Hawksley Workman is equally compelling whether you take it to be fact or fantasy and whether it is regarding his personal history or his music. The artist originally hailed from Bay Lake. From this point on, however, the tale gets somewhat hazy and wholly bizarre, owing in large part to the short, ongoing biography (Chapter Two) published on his website (www.hawksleyworkman.com). Self-styled by Workman, it seemed to be a partially invented, quasi-fictional account of his first 24 years and created quite a buzz and a fair amount of conjecture, scuttlebutt, and intrigue from media and fans even before his music had a chance to become celebrated or widely known. According to the autobiography, his idyllic childhood in a rural part of Canada included such idiosyncratic fantasia as drifting "in the sky on a kite carefully fastened to a button on my shirtsleeve." As he grew older, he took a job cutting ice from the lake while listening to the songs of the winter birds, then once he finished his schooling, he made the transition from the forest to the big city Toronto. Here the saga takes on the delicious charm of a more lighthearted modern day Dickensian narrative. Workman found work in a tap-dance academy, where he supposedly polished the rental shoes, kept the turntable needle clean, and mopped and finished the dancefloor at the end of every day in exchange for "a modest wage, a cot next door to the broom closet, and the opportunity to join the beginners afternoon cla**." With those cla**es, his life immediately changed with dance and music garnering Workman's full attention, even to the detriment of sleep, as a result of all-night practice sessions. According to the biography, he became one of the school's top dancers, giving regular Sunday recitals and even performing for the Dutch Royal Family. Incidentally, Chapter One of his bio was a series of letters to a fictional ideal lover and muse who lives underwater, Isadora (also the name of his record label), that originally appeared in the personal section of Now Magazine. The letters were eventually collected into an actual book, Hawksley Burns for Isadora, and published in the spring of 2001 by the Canadian alternative, experimental Gutter Press. br /br /Even if few of the facts of his life-story are entirely on the level, it bespeaks a man of deeply felt impulses and a broad imagination, someone willing to make art even out of his own life and with a sense of humor to boot. Its truth may be dubious, but the reality of Workman's musical gifts has never been in question. When and from where his multi-instrumental and songwriting abilities emerged is left to guesswork, but his debut album, For Him and the Girls, found Workman playing virtually every note in addition to recording the album in his own home studio. Released in Canada in 1999, the album received critical raves in that country and in the United Kingdom, where Workman spent considerable time touring. An American release followed the next year. 2001 brought a second self-produced effort, (Last Night We Were) the Delicious Wolves, released on Universal in Canada and the U.K., again with Workman producing and playing almost every instrument. He supported the album with more shows throughout Canada and a second U.K. tour, this time through Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as well as a trip to Paris. His wild taletelling also began to extend to the stage, where he circulated stories as wide-ranging as his time spent in the circus as a "mad-maker" (the one who goes into the cages to make the lions mad before their performances) during his youth to help his family get by economically to the stage musical that he has been working on. br /br /In addition, Workman played on and produced albums for fellow Canadian artists John Southworth, Sarah Slean, Tegan and Sara, the Cash Brothers, and Paul Macleod. And no doubt there is much more music to come from the songwriter, likely to be paired with an equal amount of inspired mania. ~ Stanton Swihart, All Music Guide

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