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Jay Semko - Singer, Songwriter
Jay was born and raised in Saskatchewan, spending much of his first 11 years living on a farm. After moving to Saskatoon in Grade 7, Jay began honing his skills as a guitarist and bassist, and played in numerous rock bands through his high school years. After a year at the University of Saskatchewan, and after stints in a number of bands in and around Saskatoon, Jay formed the Northern Pikes, a guitar based pop rock group featuring twangy, atmospheric guitars and unique three part harmonies, with Bryan Potvin, Merl Bryck, and Don Schmid. After releasing 2 independent albums which charted highly on College and Indie playlists in Canada and the USA, the Pikes signed an international record contract with Virgin Records, and the band's career went to another level, releasing a total of seven albums on the label and touring across North America.
As a member of the Northern Pikes, Jay was awarded four Gold records and one Platinum, with sales of over 1 million units worldwide. The Northern Pikes had a number of Canadian hit singles, including Teenland, Things I Do for Money, Wait for Me, Hopes Go Astray, She Ain't Pretty, Girl with a Problem, Kiss Me You Fool, Twister and Believe. Two of these, Things I Do for Money and She Ain't Pretty, appeared in the USA Billboard Charts, and many of the band's videos charted in the Top 5 on MuchMusic, including Girl with a Problem, which reached #1. The band received 8 Juno Award nominations, and Jay received two Canadian Music Publishers Association Awards, for Teenland and Girl with a Problem. During the course of their career, the Northern Pikes have released twelve albums. In 2012 the iconic Canadian band was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
When the Northern Pikes began a six year hiatus in 1993, Jay recorded "Mouse", the first of many solo albums, and branched into a new facet of his music career, composing for film and television. Jay is known worldwide as music composer on the internationally syndicated TV series, "Due South" created by Academy and Emmy Award winner Paul Haggis (for which Jay received two nominations in Canada's Gemini Awards - Best Music Score in a Dramatic Series) and has won the MMPIA Blizzard and SMPIA Awards for Best Music Score as music composer for the movie, "Paris Or Somewhere". in 2013 Jay was nominated in the Canadian Screen Awards (formerly the Geminis) for his work on the TV series "Dust Up' in the category of Best Original Music for a Non-Fiction Program or Series. Jay has composed music for many other dramas and documentary series on Discovery Channel, CBC, Global, APTN, Showcase, History, and others, and has had many of his songs and compositions featured in film and television - "Trailer Park Boys: the Movie", "Men With Brooms", "Being Erica", and "Cedar Cove" are some recent examples.
Jay has released nine solo albums, firmly establishing him as one of Canada's premiere songwriters - in 2009 Jay was a finalist in the Gospel/Inspirational Category of the internationally acclaimed John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "Jesus Is Gonna Help Me"; in 2011 Jay was nominated as Songwriter of the Year in the Western Canadian Music Awards for "Before You Leave Canada"; in 2012 won the SCMA Award for Roots Album of the Year ("Force of Horses"), was a finalist in the international Independent Music Awards Gospel Song category for "Drop You In The Water", was nominated in the Best Solo Roots Recording category for "Sending Love" in the Western Canadian Music Awards, as well as being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame with his band mates in the Northern Pikes, and in 2015 won a second SCMA Roots Album of the Year award for "Flora Vista".
Jay is an accomplished voiceover artist and a full ACTRA member, with his voice being heard on radio and television advertisements, public service announcements, documentaries, and dramas, and has also instructed songwriting courses and hosted songwriting workshops and seminars through the University of Saskatchewan, Songwriters Association of Canada, SOCAN and private clients. Jay has also co-written with many other songwriters in Canada and the USA, and continues to do so regularly.
Jay's latest album, "Never Sent", released on Inner Expression Records, is a rootsy musical road trip through love, loss, and spirituality, and has resulted in Jay being nominated in the Western Canadian Music Awards for 2020 Spiritual Artist of the Year - Jay continues to tour, and his solo acoustic concerts are legendary for their laughter, tears, and sheer love of music and life.