Mart Kenney

b. 12 March 1910, Canada, 8 February 2006, Mission, British Columbia, Canada. One of the more prominent Canadian band leaders, Kenney formed his first professional orchestra in 1931 in Vancouver, British…
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Artist Biography

b. 12 March 1910, Canada, 8 February 2006, Mission, British Columbia, Canada. One of the more prominent Canadian band leaders, Kenney formed his first professional orchestra in 1931 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Previously he had worked with Len Chamberlain and Sam Silverman as a clarinet and saxophone player. The group’s featured vocalists included Art Hallman, Roy Roberts, Wally Koster, Georgia Dey, Judy Richards and Norma Locke (later his wife). Kenney strived hard to carve out a market by playing regularly in British Columbia and Alberta. A season at Penley’s Academy and Chestermere Lake in Calgary was followed by his first network radio show, broadcast remote from a performance at Waterton Park, Alberta, in 1934. Through the auspices of the CPR management organisation, he was recruited to play at their Hotel Saskatchewan complex in Regina and the Lake Louise Hotel in the summer of 1935. They returned to Vancouver for further shows at the Hotel Vancouver and Banff Springs Hotel, followed by their longest run at the Royal York Hotel. Sponsored radio appearances of this time included the Home Oil Company, Union Oil Company and Borden’s Canadian Cavalcade shows, as well as many programmes originating from CBC’s studio.

During World War II Kenney continued to tour widely, returning to the Royal York immediately after the war’s close. He composed the popular song ‘We’re Proud Of Canada’ and opened The Ranch, an open-air nightclub near Woodbridge, Ontario. After that he retired from band leading to concentrate on other activities, but made a popular return in the mid-60s with a new recording contract with RCA - Victor Records. Kenney continued to make guest appearances in his home state of British Columbia well into his nineties. During his lifetime he was honoured with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and the Order of Canada.