Music alumnus and assistant professor receives Juno nod for second album

March 16, 2015

Congratulations to Jim Head on his Juno nomination for Solo Jazz Album of the Year

On March 15, the Canadian music industry celebrated its members’ incredible talents and achievements at the 2015 Juno Awards. Though he didn’t win, assistant professor and guitar head Jim Head was happy to be nominated.


“It’s hard sometimes to understand what makes one record more appealing to people than another,” says Jim. “But this record seems to have gotten some attention—not only for the Juno nomination, but a couple of journalists also put it on their best-of lists and top-10 lists for 2014. People seem to like it.”

Jim, whose second album, Zoetrope, was up for Jazz Album of the Year – Solo, says the title track was inspired by the energy of his young daughter.

“The piece was written with her energy in mind, and how she’s been introduced into our lives, and also the sense of surprise and the unexpected, because the song definitely is in a lot of ways full of that.”

Desire to learn and work hard

Jim, who is also an alumnus of the university’s music program, says he “barely got in” to the program in the first place. Though he had begun playing guitar at age 12 and lent his talents to bands throughout high school, he admits he had no music literacy when a friend convinced him to audition for MacEwan’s program.

“I wasn’t the greatest player and I didn’t have a ton of knowledge,” he says. “Nonetheless I was able to build and move up from there. You never really know where the desire to learn and to work hard can lead.”

He credits the program’s teachers with exposing him to music he had not heard before. The experience was life altering.

“It’s not like I had a plan or anything—just the idea that I wanted to try to find a life in music in some way,” he says. “Going to MacEwan allowed me to get deeper into it and explore.”

Driven to be invigorated

After graduating, Jim continued to live, work and play in Edmonton for three years. “The whole process of trying to become a musician is really important, and music is about lifelong learning—you have to keep working at it.”

Jim completed a bachelor’s degree at McGill University, and nearly a decade later, returned to get his master’s.

“I was always more driven by needing a change or something to invigorate me,” he says. “I never had this great plan to get my master’s degree and become a professor at a university. I knew that by getting a good education, some opportunities may open up down the road, but I was really more driven by my artistic choices.”

Jim says that whether he’s writing, performing or teaching, he tries to bring the best he can to whatever project he’s working on.

“I’m 51 now, but I don’t ever want to lose that feeling of wonder, that magic I felt when I was a student here at 18 years old,” he says. “So I’m constantly trying to grow and learn.”

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