Oscar Peterson the subject of latest Canadian Heritage Minute

The minute-long video chronicles the seven-time Grammy winner's rise from a working-class Montreal family to becoming a world-renowned piano virtuoso.

The Great Oscar Peterson is the subject of latest Canadian heritage Minute, which follows Canada’s most honoured jazz musicians from his humble beginnings in the Black neighbourhood of Little Burgundy in Montreal to his rise to fame.

Historica Canada released the newest clip, timed for Black History Month, in its ongoing series that highlights influential figures from across the country.

The minute-long video chronicles the seven-time Grammy winner's rise from a working-class Montreal family to becoming a world-renowned piano virtuoso.

It touches on his encounters with greatness, such as being dubbed "the man with four hands," and acknowledges the racism he faced at jazz gigs in the 1940s

Historica Canada also produced a companion video exploring the history of Little Burgundy, a Black working-class community in Montreal and the jazz culture within it. The separate clip is narrated by Peterson's daughter Céline Peterson, who was consulted about her father's Heritage Minute from its inception.

Peterson said her father received many honours throughout his career, but she believes he would be especially proud of seeing his story in a Heritage Minute.

"I think this is one of the ones that would really overwhelm him," she said.

"People all over the world are familiar with the Heritage Minute, and it's such a monumental form of recognition."

Peterson, who serves as producer of the Kensington Market Jazz Festival in Toronto, said the debut of her father's Heritage Minute during Black History Month is significant

"A huge part of my dad's story was racism, first at home and then around the world," she said, pointing out that it was especially prominent early in his career as he travelled the southern United States.

"He told the story when I was young about driving up on a KKK meeting when they were going from city to city. Hearing him talk about it is still haunting for me today. Maybe even a bit more so now than it was before."

Peterson died of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.

For more information about Oscar Peterson, visit The Canadian Encyclopedia. 

The Heritage Minutes collection is a bilingual Canadian legacy project comprised of 60-second short films, each depicting a significant person, event or story in Canadian history. They are produced by Historica Canada, the not-for-profit organization that is also responsible for publishing this encyclopedia. First released in 1991, the Heritage Minutes have been shown on television, in cinemas and online, and have become a part of Canadian culture. Today, the collection includes 90 episodes.

— Historica Canada

https://www.historicacanada.ca/heritageminutes

cbc.ca/news

— AB

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