Dr. Jason Wilson is a two-time Juno-Awards nominee, Canadian Reggae Music Award winner, a national bestselling author and celebrated Scottish-Canadian historian from Downsview, Ontario. He is the protégé of Studio One keyboardist Jackie Mittoo and has performed and recorded with UB40, Dave Swarbrick, Pee Wee Ellis, Sly & Robbie, Ernest Ranglin, Alanis Morissette, Ron Sexsmith, The Mighty Sparrow, Percy Sledge, Brinsley Forde (Aswad), Dick Gaughan, Martin Carthy, David Francey and many more.
An Adjunct-Professor of history at the universities of Guelph and Guelph-Humber, Dr. Wilson has six books to his name to go along with his seven, critically-acclaimed albums. Wilson's music has caught the attention of many critics. The Beat’s Ted Boothroyd confessed that Wilson’s work is “deeply satisfying reggae for aware, intelligent grown-ups.” Likewise, No Depression’s Douglas Heselgrave believed that “the more I listen to Jason Wilson…the more I am convinced that he's onto something that may just help broaden the spectrum of how people consider reggae music.” Whether it is with his own unit The Perennials, or with his touring "musical-lecture" The Soldiers of Song (a tribute to Canada's "Dumbells" of the First World War), or when he was out touring with musical icons such as Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown/Van Morrison's bandleader), Wilson's sound has charmed audiences across the country and around the world.
Born to Scottish immigrants, Wilson played his first night-club gig with Messenjah when he was only fourteen. Wilson’s cousin Michael Virtue (UB40) has been a staunch promoter of Jason’s career. Known for incorporating jazz and Scottish and English folk influences atop a reggae foundation, Wilson is a multi-instrumentalist though is perhaps best known for his piano skills. Wilson has extensive studio-session experience on his native instruments the piano and voice, but also on bass, guitar and accordion.
Wilson has also been featured on many radio and television shows and is no stranger to the CBC where he has guested on many national and local programmes including Metro Morning; Fresh Air; The Current; Ontario Today; Big City, Small World and Mama Yama. Jason's own life story and music was featured in a special mini-documentary entitled 'The Grateful Dread' that appeared on The National with Peter Mansbridge. Similarly, Wilson's life was featured in a documentary on BBC radio. Jason's work on the Dumbells — Canada's famous concert party of WWI — was also featured on The National in 2013.
Author of six books, including Soldiers of Song: The Dumbells and Other Canadian Concert Parties of the First World War, Wilson has been published several times in both academic and popular journals on a wide variety of historical topics. A winner of a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Dr. Wilson's research has included works on Canadiana, pop culture, the First World War, hockey, immigration and, of course, music. Indeed, much of the material found on Wilson's five critically acclaimed albums have largely been inspired by events in Canadian history. Jason's song-writing combines, as journalist Nicholas Jennings confirmed "his historical perspective and inventive arrangements on thoughtful, genre-stretching songs about human conflict." In the summer of 2009, Jason served as the lone professional musician on the advisory committee for the 'Cantos at the King Eddy' project in Calgary that will serve as Canada's national music museum. Wilson also co-authored the best-selling Official Centenary book for the Toronto Maple Leafs alongside Kevin Shea.
Wilson was the on-stage musical director for the award-winning project Jamaica to Toronto (NOW Magazine Album of the Year 2006) and is also the leader of Soldiers of Song, a tribute to the Dumbells. Jason was presented with The Karl Mullings Memorial Award for commitment to reggae in Canada in 2007. No other Canadian reggae artist has toured as much as Wilson in the past ten years. With intriguing lyrical imagery — mostly culled from moments in history — Wilson presents a uniquely irresistible take on the reggae art form.
Some of the festivals that Jason has performed at during previous tours include:
• Vancouver Island MusicFest
• Vancouver Folk Festival
• Canmore Folk Festival
• Calgary Folk Festival
• Edmonton Folk Festival
• Celtic Connections (Glasgow, Scotland)
• Sidmouth Folk Festival (England)
• Wickham Folk Festival (England)
• Jazz on the Green (Kingston, Jamaica)
• Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival
• Hillside Festival (Guelph)
• Calgary Reggae Festival
• Irie Music Festival (Toronto)
• Beaches International Jazz Festival (Toronto)
• Rythmes Tremblant (Mont Tremblant, PQ)
• Vancouver International Jazz Festival
• Montreal International Jazz Festival
• SaskTel International Jazz Festival (Saskatoon)
• Toronto Beaches International Jazz Festival
• Cool Jazz Winnipeg Festival
• TD Canada Trust Calgary Jazz Festival
• Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
• The Small World Festival (Toronto)
• Montreal International Reggae Festival
• Winnipeg Ska Festival
• Saskatoon Reggae Festival
• Summer Solstice Festival (Gravelbourg, SK)
• Mount. Beat & Blues Festival (Revelstoke, BC)
• The Shoreline Festival (Rollo Bay, PEI)
• The Off Festival (Quebec City, PQ)
• Komasket Festival (Vernon, BC)
• and many more...