Thompson Egbo-Egbo is seen in his role as Oscar Peterson in a still frame taken from a new Heritage Minute video on the Canadian jazz pianist's life. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Historica Canada, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

New Heritage Minute toasts life of Black Canadian piano virtuoso Oscar Peterson

Clip features seven-time Grammy winner, timed for Black History Month

Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s legendary career is being celebrated in a Heritage Minute.

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.

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

RELATED: Black leaders and artists reflect on Black History Month in 2021

RELATED: If you think Black history isn’t Canadian history, think again

Both the English and French versions of the Heritage Minute are narrated by Black Canadian pianists. Oliver Jones plays the voice of Peterson in the English version while Gregory Charles handles the French.

The Heritage Minute is written by Brynn Byrne and directed by Aaron Yeger, known as co-writer and producer of the acclaimed 2015 film “Sleeping Giant.”

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 Celine Peterson, who was consulted about her father’s Heritage Minute from its inception.

Peterson says 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, says 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 hauntingfor me today. Maybe even a bit more so now than it was before.”

Peterson’s Heritage Minute is an especially cinematic one, which raises the question of whether his relatives have considered granting the rights for his story to a production company for a feature film.

“In the past, there have been some conversations but nothing that has necessarily been the right fit,” his daughter said.

“Having his story told in that capacity would be natural, to a certain extent. It needs to happen, it’s just a matter of when and by whom.”

Watch the Oscar Peterson Heritage Minute here.

— David Friend, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
ATM at North Saanich high school torched during early morning break-and-enter

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

Victoria Police Department vehicle outside the headquarters building. VicPD (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after Victoria restaurant worker punched, thrown to the ground

Police say woman was found lying on the sidewalk with non-life threatening injuries

The Berwick Retirement Communities’ 2021 Spin-A-Thon event on Feb. 23 raised more than $7,100 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Berwick Spin-A-Thon raises more than $7,000 for Heart and Stroke Foundation

Two centenarians among participants in second annual all-day pedal event

Victoria police are investigating after several vehicles were smashed and a basement was flooded along lower Cook Street March 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating smashed vehicles, flooded basement on Cook Street

Police seeking witnesses, footage of several ‘mischief’ incidents

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Intiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforecment, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

Most Read