Student Nominated for a Juno Award

March 20, 2009 - News Release

A University of Guelph graduate student is up for a Juno Award. Jason Wilson, who is pursuing a PhD in history, is nominated in the Reggae Recording of the Year category for his first solo album, The Peacemaker's Chauffeur. The 2009 Juno Awards will be presented March 29 in Vancouver.

“This is my second time to the dance, and I think I’m going to enjoy it a lot more this time around," said Wilson. He and his band, Tabarruk, were nominated in the same category for their album Jonah in 2002. The next year, Wilson earned a master's degree in history from U of G. “The last few years have been amazing,” he said.

The Peacemaker’s Chauffeur is a double disc that focuses on the human experience in times of both war and peace. Wilson grew up in Toronto’s Keele and Finch district and says the multicultural urban environment fostered his music style. “Reggae was all around me. That neighbourhood has the greatest concentration of Caribbean migrants in the world, and it’s the most densely populated square mile in Canada. I think reggae chose me. I don’t think it was the other way around.”

Over his 15-year career, Wilson has performed with some of the biggest reggae acts, including UB40, Sly and Robbie, Brinsley Forde, Jackie Mittoo and Ernest Ranglin. He has also collaborated with performers from outside the genre, including Alanis Morissette, Amanda Marshall, Percy Sledge and Ron Sexsmith.

In addition, he was the on-stage musical director for the award-winning project Jamaica to Toronto, which was named 2006 Album of the Year by Now magazine, and he stars in the popular Marley/Dylan tribute act "The Two Bobs" with Fergus Hambleton, frontman for the Sattalites.

Despite years of musical success and performing more than 2,000 shows in Canada and abroad, that hasn’t been enough for Wilson. A high school dropout, he enjoyed leading the “rogue” life of a musician but eventually found himself reading voraciously and missing the learning that goes along with that.

He decided to go back to school, earning an undergraduate history degree from York University before finding his way to Guelph. He recently received a U of G Ontario Graduate Scholarship from the David Murray and James Snell History OGS Fund for his high academic standing.

Wilson has edited two books and co-authored Lord Stanley: The Man Behind the Cup, the first biography of Lord Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby and one of Canada’s first governor generals. The book earned Wilson and co-author Kevin Shea a 2007 Heritage Award for Outstanding Research and Writing from the Society of North American Historians and Researchers, in conjunction with the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame. His PhD dissertation is an exploration of the migratory history of Jamaicans in his old neighbourhood and the influence this population has had on the area.

Wilson said his dual passions for music and history inspire and fuel each other. “I’m sort of used to the double-agent life: mild-mannered cultural historian by day, reggae troubadour by night,” he said. “In the end, I want to mine Canadiana through word and music, and both of my lives do just that.”

Over the next year, Wilson, who just returned from a tour in Jamaica, will be playing in Canada, the United Kingdom and Holland, including an April 9 show at the ebar in downtown Guelph.

For media questions, contact U of G Communications and Public Affairs Lori Bona Hunt at Ext. 53338,, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

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