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Singer Alannah Myles - 'Black Velvet'

Updated on September 9, 2014

Singer Alannah Myles

Back in 1989 and 1990, one could hardly turn on the radio without hearing the song "Black Velvet" performed by Canadian singer and songwriter Alannah Myles. The song was a such a massive hit worldwide that it netted Myles the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, in 1990.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikipedia/Mike F. Campbell-CC-BY-2.5

Alannah Myles Biography

Alannah Myles (born December 25, 1958, Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, the daughter of Canadian broadcast pioneer Bill Myles. When she was sixteen, Myles began performing in Southern Ontario. She eventually met Christopher Ward, the songwriter who helped her to form her own band, and performed cover versions of Aretha Franklin, T. Rex, AC/DC, Bob Seger, Anne Peebles, the Rolling Stones, and the Pretenders. Later, she joined David Tyson to produce her self-titled debut album, Alannah Myles. She appeared together with Ward in a 1984 installment of the television series program The Kids Of Degrassi Street, in which she played the role of an aspiring singer and single mother.

In 1989, she released Alannah Myles. It produced three Top 40 selections, "Love Is", "Lover Of Mine", and "Still Got This Thing", as well as the number-one hit "Black Velvet". For Myles, "Black Velvet" became a number one hit worldwide, and won her Grammy Award, and several Juno Awards.

The year 1992 brought the follow-up album, Rockinghorse, which included the hit singles "Song Instead Of A Kiss" by English poet Robert John Priest, "Our World, Our Times", and "Sonny, Say You Will". She received a Grammy nomination and three Juno Awards.

The year 1995 brought A-lan-nah, a lesser-known album which contained no Top 40 singles, though it included two tracks which made it into the Top 100: "Family Secret" and "Blow Wind, Blow".

In 1997 she left her eight-record contract with the Atlantic Records label at the behest of her manager, Miles Copeland, who signed her to his Ark 21 Records. Here she released Arrival, which had the Top 40 hit "Bad 4 You", written and recorded by Myles, Desmond Child and....(read the rest of the Wikipedia article)

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'Black Velvet' Background

Wikipedia entry

"Black Velvet" is a rock song written by Canadian musicians David Tyson and Christopher Ward, and recorded by Canadian singer Alannah Myles in 1989. It became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990 and reached number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart, as well as number one in Canada and number two in the UK Singles Chart. In 1990, country music artist Robin Lee reached number 12 on the U.S. country singles charts with a cover version.

The song is about Elvis Presley. The words "black velvet" can refer to either his likeness frequently being painted on black velvet or his voice. Also, Black Velvet (full name "Sullivan's Black Velvet Hair Dye") is what Elvis used to give his naturally brown hair its distinctive black sheen. Black velvet is described as a "new religion that'll bring y'all to your knees" (changed to "bring you to your knees" in the Robin Lee version). The chorus tells of "Black velvet in that little boy's smile/Black velvet with that slow, Southern style" and the end of the first verse claims that "The boy could sing, knew how to move, everything/Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for [black velvet]".

While the first verse discusses the beginning of Elvis' life - "Mama's dancing with baby on her shoulder" - the second talks about the height of his career - "Mama's baby is in the heart of every schoolgirl; Love Me Tender leaves 'em crying in the aisles". The final verse references his death - "In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon, what could you do?"

Black Velvet Vid

During the calendar year of 1989, "Black Velvet" was the most played song on the radio worldwide.

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      myraggededge 7 years ago

      I remember the first time I heard "Black Velvet" - we were touring around Ireland in my swanky (to me) bright red BMW. Thought I was the bees knees!

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 7 years ago

      I haven't heard Alannah Myles in so long. I adored her, wore her CD out. Wonderful lens.