Donovan Woods
"Could I Be Your Girl"

Donovan Woods
Grant Martin

There’s a certain cliché about assuming that I’m assuming you’ve heard, so I won’t assume that, just because you’ve made your way to our blog and are reading this particular post, you’re familiar with DOMINIONATED’s journey and the story behind how it came to be a blog.

In 2006, I started a music blog called Quick Before It Melts, that over time focused exclusively on covering Canadian music. Not content with just writing about Canadian artists and their music, I started a project in 2014 that invited a number of musicians to record a cover version of a song from a fellow Canadian artist they admired and respected. I compiled the cover songs into a free digital download and released it on July 1 of that year. The compilation was called DOMINIONATED: a Compendium of Classic (or near Classic) Canadian songs covered by Contemporary Canadian Artists, and was intended to be a celebration of Canadian music across generations, honouring the artists and songs that have inspired and soundtracked our lives. The DOMINIONATED compilation was so well-received and fun to work on, that I turned it into an annual event, releasing two subsequent editions: DOMINIONATEDdeux in 2015 and DOMINIONATED the THIRD 2016.

On July 26, 2016, just after DOMINIONATED the THIRD was released, and 10 years from the day of its first blog post, I posted to Quick Before It Melts for the last time. That same day, Mac Cameron and I officially launched DOMINIONATED.ca, a new blog directly inspired by the spirit of collaboration that made the DOMINIONATED compilations such a success. The emphasis of this new journey was on having conversations and making human connections to Canadian music rather than reporting on release dates and regurgitating press releases.

One thing that becomes exceedingly clear on a journey like ours is that the internet is a vacuum. When you put thoughts out into the online world, it can often feel like you’re engaged in a one-sided conversation. It’s easy to make assumptions about whether your blog posts are (or are not) connecting and resonating with others on the web when you don’t get feedback beyond thumbs-up and retweets. Every once in awhile though, the universe gives you a sign that a connection has been made.

This brings me to Donovan Woods’ cover of Jann Arden’s “Could I Be Your Girl” which was featured on last year’s DOMINIONATED the THIRD compilation. While we were prepping for the official compilation release at the end of June, a private Soundcloud link to Woods’ version ended up in Jann Arden’s hands. Now, I always get a little apprehensive when releasing the compilations, nervous that the artists being covered will react negatively to the interpretation of their song. Thankfully, reactions have always been positive, as was Jann Arden’s when she heard Woods’ version of “Could I Be Your Girl”. She loved his take on her classic single, and jumped the gun on me, sharing the link via social media well before DOMINIONATED the THIRD was to be officially released. Arden’s positive reaction led CBC Radio 2 to add Wood’s “Could I Be Your Girl” to its rotation, bringing the song and our compilation project to a wider audience. And now, almost a year later, it landed Donovan Woods an invitation to perform the song at Jann Arden’s CMW Hall of Fame induction last Thursday evening in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Toronto.

It was a result beyond anything any of us involved in the project could have anticipated. Hearing about Woods’ performance at the induction ceremony stirred up a mixed bag of emotions in me: pride, modesty, and gratitude all in equal measure. Seeing the opportunity and attention Donovan Woods received from being part of the DOMINIONATED project has been a validation for us, showing that the connective power of the internet and our work on this blog can remedy some of the cynicism that comes from sending messages out into the void of cyberspace.

You start a project like DOMINIONATED (both the blog and its namesake compilation project) and assume you’re on one journey, then find the road has taken you somewhere unexpected. A new edition of DOMINIONATED is coming soon; a new batch of cover songs bringing with them a slew of opportunities for our contributing artists. We can’t wait to see (and hear) what connections and conversations DOMINIONATED IV will bring.

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