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“What we do as artists is create something that wasn’t there yesterday” – Tom Wilson on creating custom paddles to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of major figures in the Canadian music publishing industry.Nov 10 2021

Tom Wilson is a Canadian music legend, famed storyteller and visual artist, whose musical work is published by Sony Music Publishing Canada. Wilson is best known for his work with Blackie & The Rodeo Kings and Lee Harvey Osmond, the latter receiving a 2020 Juno Award for the album Mohawk. Wilson’s memoir, Beautiful Scars published by Penguin/Random House has become a national bestseller. In his memoir, Wilson reveals the impact of discovering his Indigenous (Mohawk) heritage. 

Music Publishers Canada is so excited to have had the opportunity to connect with Tom in order to commission a custom paddles to celebrate the winners of Music Publishers Canada’s Publishing Company Legacy Award and Industry Builder Award recipients. The paddles were first distributed to 2021 Publishing Company Legacy Award winner Diane Pinet (Bloc Notes Music Publishing) and 2021 Industry Builder Award winner Fanshawe College’s Music Industry Arts program. Find out more about the winners here. 

Tom spoke about his creative process for the custom paddles in this special video presentation from June 2021. 

“I’ve been working as a visual artist since 1997. Only in the last six years have I been guiding my art to bring honor to the Mohawk culture, so through my visual art, through my writing, and through my music, that is my job in life.” With this in mind, Tom created hand-painted paddles with a Mohawk ceremonial warrior on it, with each paddle having custom, personalized lyrical engravings from songwriters closely associated with the award-winners. 

Speaking about his creative process with regards to the paddles and the detail involved in their creation, Tom says, “As the creative process develops you can always go back and keep altering and adding more or taking away, so the idea of detail in our art is almost an example of our dedication to the work that we want to do. What we do as artists is create something that wasn’t there yesterday.” 

We are pleased to be commissioning these custom paddles as personalized, special award pieces for our two award categories moving forward, and we are grateful to Tom Wilson for his work in creating these pieces. To learn more about Tom’s visual art or commission him for a piece, please visit