Harry Hibbs to be inducted into N.S. Music Hall of Fame

Harry Hibbs to be inducted into N.S. Music Hall of Fame

The late Newfoundland and Labrador entertainer Harry Hibbs is receiving another posthumous accolade. 

Hibbs, who was born on Bell Island in 1942, will be inducted into Nova Scotia's Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Russell Bowers, who will accept the award in Halifax on behalf of the Hibbs family, told CBC Radio's Weekend AM that the honour came as a "bit of a surprise."

"I only found out about it a couple of months ago. The Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame is a new institution and a couple of years ago they had initial inaugural inductees of Rita MacNeil, John Allan Cameron, Anne Murray, Brookes Diamond," said Bowers.

"So this is the second go-round of inductees. They induct people from all throughout Atlantic Canada, not just Nova Scotia. They have Natalie MacMaster going in this year … Gene MacLellan, the great songwriter from Prince Edward Island, and Harry's in there as well."

Ken Tobias of New Brunswick and Joella Foulds of Nova Scotia round out this year's inductees.

Bowers said Hibbs always had a close relationship with the people of Nova Scotia, having toured there many times over the years. He said he's pleased to see Hibbs recognized.

"Obviously in terms of being the Newfoundland component of what they wanted to induct, they saw it hidden in his work and his career as worthy of induction, in just their second year," Bowers said.

Luck intervened

Like so many from this province, Hibbs left Bell Island and moved to Ontario in the early 1960s. He took a job working in a factory, but an accident in 1968 left him unable to perform strenuous work. 

"While Harry was recuperating, he got invited to a dance in Toronto. So he got up on stage and the thing just took off," Bowers said.  

"From there, very quickly, it almost seems like he was an overnight sensation. He wound up getting a record contract, had a TV show that ran for seven years and had one of the top 10 selling debut Canadian albums of all time."

Bowers said he's discovered some old television shows that Hibbs did, and decided to embark on a digital album project.

That project has become a reality, with an official launch set for Tuesday.

"It's an album of songs recorded on Harry Hibbs' shows over the years. There's all kinds of different tracks on it, and many of the songs have never been released," said Bowers.

The album, Off the Floor Songs from the Harry Hibbs Show, will be available for download April 18 from iTunes. The record will also be available on Amazon and CD Baby.

Bowers, the host/producer of Daybreak on CBC Radio One in Calgary, is a longtime advocate of the music of Hibbs. 

Hibbs died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 47.