Lori Yates


Long recognized by her peers and respected as one of Canada's top talents, Lori was called "alt-country" long before the phrase existed – the pioneer of a genre in the making.

This is an artist who met Johnny Cash, hung out with Tammy Wynette, wrote with Guy Clark, Don Schlitz and Colin Linden, jammed with Jerry Jeff Walker, drank with Harlan Howard, sang with Greg Allman, Rick Danko and Jim Cuddy, and ate jelly beans with Roy Acuff. As the saying goes, she's "been to the show."

Lori's nominations include: a Juno award, a Canadian Country Music Award, and a Polaris Prize award (long list). She has won many Hamilton Music Awards, including Songwriter of the Year, SOCAN #1 award.  Her lyrics have immortalized in Hamilton's Gore Park. A dynamic and often hilarious performer, what sets her apart is her golden voice; part honey, part growl. You believe every note that comes out of her mouth, she's that kind of singer, the real deal.  Her lyrics are gritty, tender, and poignant.

Born in Oshawa, Ontario, Yates grew up in Downsview, a working-class suburb of Toronto, under the shadow of the Yorkdale Mall. She's the kid who at 8 years old proclaimed to the world she was going to be a singer and the same kid who left school at 15 to work in a gas station while taking singing lessons and secretly pursuing her dream. The kid who listened to Tanya Tucker, Patti Smith and Dolly Parton while dreaming of a career in music. The kid who'd never been on a plane until Sony Music bigshots sent her a ticket. Her scrappy spirit has carried her through the peaks and valleys of the music business, she kept singing, writing and performing no matter what life threw at her. Lori's a lifer.

Her first major recording "Can't Stop the Girl" (Sony Nashville) would prove prophetic. She's an artist who battled and overcame her own personal addictions and quietly moved on to help others. She's planted graveyard flowers, painted houses, worked in record stores and homeless shelters, sold her paintings and photographs, and somehow found time to add stand-up comedy to her resume.  A writer, singer, poet, storyteller, funny person, coach, mentor, partner, and mom.  

Lori quickly gained a reputation as a "country fireball"( Now Magazine 1989) when she burst onto Toronto's Queen West music scene in the late 80's scene with her cowpunk band Rang Tango.has the same determination as to when she burst her band Rang Tango. 
country fireball" Now Magazine 1989,  because of her high energy live performances the "cowgirl singing her heart out in the punk clubs." This enigmatic, rebellious veteran adeptly blends country, roots, and rockabilly to create her own sound, eventually getting her signed to Sony Nashville.  

She was drawn to the post-industrial steel city of Hamilton, Ontario because of its rich musical heritage. Hamilton is where Ronnie Hawkins and The Band cut their teeth in whisky-soaked bars like the Flamingo and the Golden Garter and where Conway Twitty wrote "It's Only Make Believe" in a Herkimer Street apartment. and where the famous Washington family (Jackie Washington and his brothers) opened their home to Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Mississippi John Hurt when they gigged in town. And, where she played with the late and beloved Brian Griffith when he wasn't touring with Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. Lori relocated with her baby son and partner in 2002.

Hamilton lovingly embraced Lori, awarding her with "Songwriter of the Year" and "Alt-Country Recording of the Year" at the 2007 Hamilton Music Awards for "The Book of Minerva."

"Sweetheart of the Valley" was recorded with old bandmates, and roots heavyweights Hey Stella -   Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo), David Baxter (acclaimed producer and guitarist), and Michelle Josef (Prairie Oyster). They recorded live off the floor in three whirlwind sessions. The results of which are pure magic. They have the confidence and maturity to leave holes, keep it sparse, and let the song do the talking. Not many artists come up with the best work of their career three decades in, but Lori Yates and Hey Stella! did just that with "Sweetheart of the Valley which has been "Longer Listed" for the Polaris Prize. 

The words from her song, Angels with Bloody Knees have recently been immortalized in Hamilton's Gore Park.  Artist Dave Kuruc created "Music City Markers" which included lyrics from prominent Hamilton and Hamilton influenced artists; Robbie Robertson, Terra Lightfoot, The Arkells etc. Look for Lori's "Concrete rises hits you like a kiss".

2015 - Sweetheart of the Valley - Laly Music

2007 - The Book of Minerva - Laly Music

2001 -  Hey Stella! - Independent

1996 - Untogether - Virgin Music Canada

1993 -  Breaking Point - Virgin Music Canada

1989 - Can't Stop the Girl - Sony Music Nashville

1987 - Rang Tango - State of the Heart Records



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