Cindy Ord/Getty Images for iHeartRadioSinger-songwriter James Taylor performs during iHeartRadio ICONS with James Taylor presented by P.C. Richard & Son at iHeartRadio Theater on June 22, 2015 in New York City
American singer-songwriter James Taylor plans to donate the proceeds of two upcoming concerts in Alberta to the Canadian Red Cross to support victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires.
“I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Taylor said backstage after his concert in Ottawa on Friday, the opening date of the Canadian leg of Taylor’s tour with his All-Star Band.
Taylor said he’s always had a soft spot for Canada, and wanted to help. Turning the June 7 show in Edmonton and June 8 in Calgary into benefit concerts seemed like the obvious thing to do, he added.
During the Ottawa concert, Taylor also dedicated his classic song, Fire and Rain, to the evacuees.
“I’m thinking of the people displaced by fire tonight,” Taylor told the audience as he and his bandmates settled into an unadorned version of the tune. Illuminated by the twinkle of lighters and smartphones, it was a spine-tingling moment.
Further evidence of Taylor’s affection for Canada can be heard on his latest album, 2015’s Before This World. One track, SnowTime, celebrates Canada and its diversity. He played it live for the first time on Friday.
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On stage, Taylor explained the song was inspired by a summertime visit to Montreal but happens to be set in Toronto in winter. Of the new, less familiar material interspersed with the old hits, it was the clearly the crowd favourite, thanks in large part to the carefree tropical vibe and Oh Canada refrain.
Taylor performs across the country in the coming weeks, with shows in Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the Western provinces.