70 Canadian Singers and Bands Who Made It Big in America

Canada is associated with ice hockey, unwavering politeness, and great popular musicians. This is a list to celebrate our fellow Canuk singers and bands who have made it big in America.

Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

1. Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

Here’s a pop-rock superstar in the making. Canadian Shawn Mendes made music history when he became the first artist to have three hits on the adult contemporary chart before age 20. In 2014, when he was only 16, Time magazine named him to their list of the “25 Most Influential Teens in the World.” Two years later, Forbes recognized him as a “30 under 30” influencer. Mendes has definitely arrived in a big way.

Such prestige, however, is a far cry from the singer-songwriter’s modest beginnings. The Ontario native taught himself to play guitar by watching YouTube videos. Then he posted a series of six-second Vines in which he covered popular songs. With charm, a great voice, and good looks, Mendes worked to amass a colossal following on the social media platform.

Eventually, this segued into a career-launching record deal. Mendes became one of only five artists to ever debut an album at the top of the chart before age 18. Not only is he a singer but also a model for the likes of Calvin Klein.

Included among Mendes’ hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart are these Top 10 selections:

  • “Stitches” (2015)
  • “Treat You Better” (2016)
  • “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” (2017)
  • “If I Can’t Have You” (2019) and
  • “Señorita” (with Camila Cabello) (2019).
Michael Bublé – Home

2. Michael Bublé

British Columbia native Michael Bublé was always destined to make it as a singer. He announced his intended career when he was two years old, developed a specific interest in jazz when he heard Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album, and as an adolescent slept with his Bible and prayed to become a singer. His grandfather fueled his love of jazz and paid for his singing lessons. It was gonna happen.

Bublé’s big break came when he was invited to sing at the wedding of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s daughter. At the nuptials, the young crooner was introduced to a record executive and producer who worked with some of the top stars in the business.

Although Bublé may sound like he stepped right out of a 1940s time machine, fans love him. The Grammy Award-winning star boasts a string of hits on the adult contemporary chart, and he remains an international favorite as well. Some of his Top 10 songs include:

  • “Home” (2005)
  • “Save the Last Dance for Me” (2006)
  • “Everything” (2007)
  • “Lost” (2007)
  • “Haven’t Met You Yet” (2009)
  • “Hollywood” (2010)
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (2011)
  • “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” / “Jingle Bells” (featuring The Puppini Sisters) (2012)
  • “It’s a Beautiful Day” (2013) and
  • “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (featuring Idina Menzel) (2014).

Avril Lavigne – Girlfirend

3. Avril Lavigne

Because her music can be described as “pop with punk undertones,” Canadian singer Avril Lavigne has been dubbed “The Pop Punk Queen.” The Ontario native’s parents first recognized her natural affinity for singing when she was a mere toddler. They encouraged her talent throughout her youth by converting their basement into a studio and buying her drums, a microphone, keyboards, and other instruments.

At age 15, the singer-songwriter won a radio contest to perform on stage with Shania Twain before a crowd of 20,000. Prophetically, Lavigne told Twain that she intended to become a famous singer. By age 17, Lavigne had released her breakout song, “Complicated” (2002), for which she won a Juno Award and for which she was nominated a Grammy. Included among her Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart have been:

  • “Sk8er Boi” (2002)
  • “I’m with You” (2002)
  • “My Happy Ending” (2004) and
  • “Girfriend” (2007)

Both of the singer’s ex-husbands are also prominent Canadian musicians: Chad Kroeger of Nickelback and Sum 41 frontman, Deryck Whibley. Lavigne has also famously struggled with Lyme Disease since she was 30 years old. She maintains dual citizenship in both France and Canada.

Celine Dion Because You Love Me

4. Céline Dion

The best-selling Canadian musical artist of all time, this songstress was named after the tune “Céline.” The Quebec native was the youngest of 14 children and dreamed of becoming a singer from a young age. Then when Dion was only 12, her brother sent talent manager René Angélil a song that she had co-written and recorded. It was life-changing. Angélil was so inspired by her voice that he mortgaged his home to finance her fledgling career.

After achieving success as a singer for the Francophone market, Dion worked hard to cross over to the English language market. Since the 1990s, the Canadian singer achieved remarkable success as one of the best-selling artists in the world. Among her hits are the following Top 10 songs on the US Billboard Top 100:

  • “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” (1990)
  • “Beauty and the Beast” (featuring Peabo Bryson) (1991)
  • “If You Asked Me To” (1992)
  • “The Power of Love” (1993)
  • “Because You Loved Me” (1996)
  • “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (1996)
  • “All by Myself” (1996)
  • “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
  • “I’m Your Angel” (featuring R. Kelly) (1998) and
  • “That’s the Way It Is” (1999).

Having met René Angélil when she was a pre-teen, Dion waited until she was 20 years old to begin a dating relationship with him. Angélil was 26 years her senior and had been twice divorced. They eventually married and had three children.

Justin Bieber – Holy ft. Chance The Rapper

5. Justin Bieber

Love him or not, there’s no denying that “The Biebs” has made a big splash on the American music scene. In 2008, as a young teen, the Mississauga, Ontario native first drew the attention of a prominent talent manager by uploading his own singing videos to YouTube. The following year, he became the first artist to land seven songs on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart from a debut record. In 2020, he became the first artist to occupy the top spot of both the Billboard R&B chart (for “Yummy”) and country chart (for “10,000 Hours,” a song with Day + Shay).

At the start of his career, Bieber acquired a star-studded mentor, Usher, who himself had become famous as a teen. Although Usher attempted to guide the ‘lil Canuck through the challenges introduced by fame, The Biebs made headlines for a string of poor choices. These included charges of reckless driving, DUI, vandalism, and other brushes with the law. That’s all behind him now.

Bieber burned up the charts with tons of Top 10 US Billboard hits. Here are some examples:

  • Baby” (featuring Ludacris) (2010)
  • “Boyfriend” (2012)
  • “As Long as You Love Me” (featuring Big Sean) (2012)
  • “What Do You Mean?” (2015)
  • “Love Yourself” (2015)
  • “Let Me Love You” (featuring DJ Snake) (2016)
  • “Despacito” (featuring Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee) (2017)
  • “I Don’t Care” (with Ed Sheeran) (2019)
  • “10,000 Hours” (featuring Day+Shay) (2019)
  • “Yummy” (2020)
  • “Intentions” (featuring Quavo) (2020)
  • “Stuck with You” (featuring Ariana Grande) (2020)
  • “Holy” (featuring Chance the Rapper) (2020)
  • “Monster” (featuring Shawn Mendes) (2020)
  • “Peaches” (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon) (2021) and
  • “Stay” (featuring Kid Laroi) (2021)

Bieber famously had an on-again/off-again relationship with fellow singer Selena Gomez, but then in 2018, they called it quits for good. Six months later, he married model Hailey Baldwin at a New York City courthouse.

Shania Twain – From This Moment On

6. Shania Twain

Ever since Shania Twain asked folks, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” the Canadian songbird has been establishing her undeniable place as the Queen of Country Pop. The Grammy Award-winning artist has released a steady parade of hits on the Country Billboard chart, some of which crossed over to the mainstream pop and international charts:

  • “You Win My Love” (1996)
  • “No One Needs to Know” (1996)
  • “Love Gets Me Every Time” (1997)
  • “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)” (1997)
  • “You’re Still the One” (1998)
  • “From This Moment On” (1998)
  • “Honey, I’m Home” (1998)
  • “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” (1999)
  • “Come On Over” (1999)
  • “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” (2002)
  • “Forever and for Always” (2003) and
  • “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face” (2003).

Twain grew up in a poor, food-insecure Ontario family and sang to help put meals on the table. Later, when her parents died in a car accident, she took care of her younger siblings by working as a performer at a nearby resort until they could move out on their own.

The Canadian songstress had a less than impressive career start, having wanted initially to be a pop singer. However, in 1993, she then met legendary record producer Mutt Lange who was 17 years her senior. He offered to help write and produce her music, then married her six months later. Their divorce was finalized in 2010 after Lange had an affair with Twain’s best friend.

Alanis Morissette -Ironic

7. Alanis Morissette

It’s hard to imagine that this bitter, intense rocker chick used to open for Vanilla Ice back in the day. In 1995, when Ottawa native Alanis Morissette released “You Oughta Know”—a blistering takedown of a lover who cheated, broke the narrator’s heart, and left—the raw song was like few others. Rolling Stone called Morissette the “Queen of Alt-Rock Angst.”

The Juno and Grammy Award-winning singer holds the record for the best-selling debut album worldwide (Jagged Little Pill, 1995). The Canadian songstress now has dual citizenship in the US. Although a number of her songs have demonstrated broad international appeal, the following are Top 10 hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart

  • “You Oughta Know” (1995)
  • “Ironic” (1996) and
  • “You Learn” (1996).

Like all of us, this angry young Gen X woman mellowed into somebody’s mom.

Sarah McLachlan – In The Arms of an Angle

8. Sarah McLachlan

You probably know adult contemporary recording artist Sarah McLachlan best from her song, “Angel.” It’s the theme song for the heartwrenching television fundraising commercials for the ASPCA. McLachlan admits that she can’t bear to see the images of freezing, homeless dogs and cats so she turns the channel when the commercial comes on!

Although the Nova Scotia-born musician has primarily been popular in her native Canada, she has enjoyed success on the US pop chart as well as the adult alternative, dance club, and alternative rock charts. Among her Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits include:

  • “Adia” (1998)
  • “Angel” (1998)
  • “I Will Remember You” (1999)
  • “River” (2006)
  • “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (2006) and
  • “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (2006)

McLachlan has been awarded both Grammy and Juno awards. In addition, the canuck is known for launching Lilith Fair, a traveling tour of female headlining acts in the late 1990s. She also had a stalker who obsessively wrote her love letters for two years, sued her in order to get close to her, then killed himself before the case could go to trial.

Anne Murray – Just Another Woman In Love

9. Anne Murray

If you’ve never heard of Canadian songbird Anne Murray, then do yourself a favor and correct that situation now. Her Christmas albums are truly timeless standouts.

Country-pop artist Anne Murray was the first Canadian woman to score a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts. From the 1970s and beyond, she paved the way for subsequent Canadian female recording musicians, including Shania Twain, k.d. lang, and Céline Dion.

The Nova Scotia native is a Grammy Award winner, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was named by Billboard as one of the 50 Biggest Adult Contemporary Artists Ever. Many of her hits were country crossovers to the adult alternative and mainstream pop chart. Among her biggest hits on the US Billboard Pop 100 chart include:

  • “Snowbird” (1970)
  • “Danny’s Song” (1972)
  • “A Love Song” (1973)
  • “You Won’t See Me” (1974)
  • “You Needed Me” (1978)
  • “I Just Fall in Love Again” (1979)
  • “Broken Hearted Me” (1979) and
  • “Daydream Believer” (1980).
Loverboy – Turn Me Loose

10. Loverboy

This classic 80s band was a rocking group of Canucks from Calgary, and you can still hear their tunes on the radio, especially on Fridays when it’s time to celebrate the weekend. Some of their hottest hits on the mainstream rock chart included these numbers:

  • “Turn Me Loose” (1980)
  • “Working for the Weekend” (1981)
  • “Hot Girls in Love” (1983)
  • “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” (1985)
  • “This Could Be the Night” (1986) and
  • “Notorious” (1987).
Barenaked Ladies – One Week

11. Barenaked Ladies

This alt-rock band was formed in Ontario and developed a devoted, cult-like fanbase. Barenaked Ladies was known for engaging in improvisational rapping and comedic banter between songs at their concerts. Fans loved it. The Juno Award-winning group’s highest’s charting songs on the US Billboard Hot 100 included, “One Week” (1998) and “Pinch Me” (2000).

Nickelback – How You Remind Me \

12. Nickelback

According to Billboard, Nickelback is the most successful rock band of the 2000s, and their 2001 chart-busting single, “How You Remind Me” was the best-selling rock song of that decade. The Canadian band’s rock songs were frequent crossovers to both the adult contemporary chart and US Hot 100 mainstream pop chart. In addition, they enjoyed international popularity.

Their discography includes the following list of #1 tunes on the rock charts:

  • “How You Remind Me” (2001)
  • “Too Bad” (2002)
  • “Never Again” (2002)
  • “Figured You Out” (2003)
  • “Photograph” (2005)
  • “Animals” (2005)
  • “Something in Your Mouth” (2008) and
  • “Edge of a Revolution” (2014)
Buchman Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet

13. Bachman-Turner Overdrive

This Winnipeg-based classic rock group was formed when Randy Bachman left The Guess Who at the top of the band’s success, feeling like “a lunatic and a loser” that no one wanted to work with. The guitar-heavy band he cobbled together eventually landed these and other memorable top hits on the US Billboard Hot 100:

  • “Takin’ Care of Business” (1974)
  • “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (1974) and
  • “Roll on Down the Highway” (1975).
Rush – New World Man

14. Rush

Rush was a Canadian rock band formed in Toronto in 1968 by Alex Lifeson (guitars, composer), John Rutsey (drums, percussion, lyricist), and Jeff Jones, who was immediately replaced by Geddy Lee (bass, vocals, keyboards, composer).

More than 40 million records sold worldwide. Countless sold-out tours. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Officers of the Order of Canada. And that’s all very nice. But for these three guys, it’s all about the music, their friendship, and the fans.

“New World Man (1982)”
“Show Don’t Tell (1989)”
“Ghost of a Chance (1992)”

Diana Krall – The Look Of Love

15. Diana Krall

Diana Jean Krall OC OBC (born November 16, 1964) is a Canadian jazz pianist and singer, known for her contralto vocals. She has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, including over 6 million in the US. … Krall is the only jazz singer to have had eight albums debuting at the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums.

“The Look of Love (2001)”
“Just Like a Butterfly, That’s Caught in the Rain (2012)”

Brian Adams – Heaven

16. Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams, in full Bryan Guy Adams, (born November 5, 1959, Kingston, Ontario, Canada), Canadian rock singer-songwriter, photographer, and social activist whose hit albums Cuts Like a Knife (1983) and Reckless (1984) made him one of the most popular and successful recording artists of the 1980s

“Heaven (1985)”
“Everything I Do, I Do It for You (1991)”
“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? (1995)”
“Here I Am (2002)”

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi (Live Isle of Wright

17. Joni Mitchell

Roberta Joan “Joni” Mitchell CC is a Canadian singer-songwriter and painter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz, Mitchell’s songs often reflect on social and philosophical ideals as well as her feelings about romance, womanhood, disillusionment, and joy.

“Big Yellow Taxi (1970)”
“Help Me (1974)”
“Free Man in Paris (1974)”

Arcade Fire – Ready to Start

18 Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire is a Canadian indie rock band, consisting of husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Win’s younger brother William Butler, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury, and Jeremy Gara. … In 2017, the band released their fifth studio album Everything Now.

“Ready to Start (2010)”
“Reflektor (2013)”
“Everything Now (2017)”

Robin Thicke – Lost Without U

19. Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke is a singer/songwriter, best known for his controversial 2013 single, ‘Blurred Lines’. … Childhood: Robin Thicke was born to Canadian actor Alan Thicke and American singer and actress, Gloria Loring, in Los Angles, California.

Lost Without You (2007)
Magic (2008), Sex Therapy (2009)
Blurred Lines (2014)

Alessia Cara – Here

20. Alessia Cara

Alessia Caracciolo (born July 11, 1996), better known by her stage name Alessia Cara, is a Canadian singer and songwriter from Brampton, Ontario. She is currently signed to EP Entertainment and Def Jam Recordings and is best known for “Here”, her debut single from her upcoming debut album.

“Here (2015)”
“Scars to Your Beautiful (2016)”
“Stay (2017)”

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

21. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, in full Leonard Norman Cohen, (born September 21, 1934, Montreal, Quebec, Canada—died November 7, 2016, Los Angeles, California, U.S.), Canadian singer-songwriter whose spare songs carried an existential bite and established him as one of the most distinctive voices of 1970s pop music

“Hallelujah (1984)”

Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway

22. Tom Cochrane

Thomas William Cochrane OC OM (/ˈkɒkrən/ KOK-rən; born May 14, 1953) is a Canadian musician best known as the frontman for the rock band Red Rider and for his work as a solo singer-songwriter. Cochrane has won eight Juno Awards. In September 2009, he was inducted onto the Canadian Walk of Fame

“Life Is a Highway (1991)”
“No Regrets (1991)”

The Band – Up On Cripple Creek

23. The Band

The Band was a Canadian-American rock band formed in Toronto, Ontario, in 1967. It consisted of four Canadians and one American: Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm.

For about six years, from 1968 through 1975, the Band was one of the most popular and influential rock groups in the world, their music embraced by critics (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, the public) as seriously as the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Their albums were analyzed and reviewed as intensely as any records by their one-time employer and sometime mentor Bob Dylan. And for a long time, their personalities were as recognizable individually to the casual music public as the members of the Beatles.

Upon Cripple Creek (1969)”
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (1969)”
“Don’t Do It (1972)”

24. Alannah MylesBlack Velvet (1989)blues rock
25. Hank SnowI’m Moving On (1950), I’ve Been Everywhere (1962), Hello Love (1974)country
26. Neil YoungCinnamon Girl (1970), Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1970)rock
27. Jeff HealeyAngel Eyes (1989), I Think I Love You Too Much (1990), Cruel Little Number (1992),blues-rock, jazz
28. Gordon LightfootIf You Could Read My Mind (1970), Talking in Your Sleep (1971), Rainy Day People (1975), The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (1976)folk-rock, soft rock
29. Nelly FurtadoI’m Like a Bird (2000), Turn Off the Light (2001), Promiscuous (2006), Maneater (2006)pop, R&B, hip-hop
30. Corey HartSunglasses at Night (1984), Never Surrender (1985), Can’t Help Falling in Love (1986)pop-rock
31. Paul AnkaDiana (1957), Lonely Boy (1959), Put Your Head on My Shoulder (1959), Puppy Love (1960), (You’re) Having My Baby (1974), One Man Woman/One Woman Man (1974)pop, soft rock
32. k.d. langCrying (1987), I’m Down to My Last Cigarette (1988), Constant Craving (1992)country, pop
33. Percy Faith and His OrchestraDelicado (1952), Theme from A Summer Place (1959)easy listening
34. The Guess WhoShakin’ All Over (1965), These Eyes (1969), American Woman (1970)hard rock
35. Magic!Rude (2013)pop
36. SteppenwolfBorn to Be Wild (1968), Magic Carpet Ride (1968)hard rock
37. Daniel PowterBad Day (2005), Love You Lately (2006)pop, adult contemporary
38. Three Days GraceJust Like You (2004), Animal I Have Become (2006), Never Too Late (2007), Break (2009), The Mountain (2018)post-grunge, hard rock, alt rock
39. Theory of a DeadmanNothing Could Come Between Us (2002), So Happy (2008), Bad Girlfriend (2008), Lowlife (2011), Angel (2015), Rx (Medicate) (2017)post-grunge, hard rock, alt rock
40. Carly Rae JepsenCall Me Maybe (2011), Good Time (2012), I Really Like You (2015)pop
41. Crash Test DummiesSuperman’s Song (1991), Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm (1993)alt-rock, folk-rock
42. Sum 41Fat Lip (2001), In Too Deep (2001), Still Waiting (2002)rock
43. April WineYou Could Have Been a Lady (1972), Roller (1979), Just Between You and Me (1981)hard rock
44. Tegan and SaraAlligator (2009), Closer (2012)indie pop/rock
45. Simple PlanPerfect (2003), Addicted (2003), Welcome to My Life (2004)rock, pop punk
46. FeistMy Moon My Man (2007), 1234 (2007), How Come You Never Go There (2011)indie pop
47. Emerson DriveI Should Be Sleeping (2001), Fall Into Me (2002), Only God (Could Stop Me Loving You) (2003), Moments (2006)country
48. TriumphHold On (1979), Fight the Good Fight (1981), All the Way (1983), A World of Fantasy (1983)hard rock
49. The Tragically HipNew Orleans Is Sinking (1989), Courage (1993), Poets (1998)rock
50. Billy TalentTry Honesty (2003)rock
51. Bran Van 3000Astounded (2001)alt rock/hip-hop
52. Hot Hot HeatBandages (2003), Talk to Me, Dance with Me (2003), Goodnight Goodnight (2005), Middle of Nowhere (2005)alt rock
53. MetricHelp I’m Alive (2008), Gold Guns Girls (2009), Youth Without Youth (2012), Breathing Underwater (2012), The Shade (2015)alt rock, new wave
54. Death from AboveTrainwreck 1979 (2014), Freeze Me (2017)rock
55. Jann ArdenCould I Be Your Girl (1994), Insensitive (1994)pop
56. The StampedersSweet City Woman (1971), Hit the Road Jack (1975)rock
57. Honeymoon SuiteNew Girl Now (1984), Bad Attitude (1985), Feel It Again (1986), Love Changes Everything (1988)rock
58. SagaWind Him Up (1981), On the Loose (1981), The Flyer (1983), What Do I Know (1985)rock
59. Ruth B.Lost Boy (2015)pop
60. Danko JonesLovercall (2002), First Date (2006), Full of Regret (2010), I Think Bad Thoughts (2011), Just a Beautiful Day (2012), Do You Wanna Rock (2015)hard rock
61. AliasMore Than Words Can Say (1990), Waiting for Love (1991)rock
62. SheriffWhen I’m with You (1988)rock
63. Tal BachmanShe’s So High (1999)pop
64. ChilliwackMy Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone) (1981), I Believe (1982), Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone) (1982)rock
65. Tate McRaeYou Broke Me First (2020)pop
67. Dan HillSometimes When We Touch (1977), Can’t We Try (1987)soft rock
68. JP SaxeIf the World Was Ending (Featuring Julia Michaels) (2019)pop
69. Terry JacksSeasons in the Sun (1974)soft rock
70. Nick GilderHot Child in the City (1978)rock

Related Articles

The Day the Music Burned

It was the biggest disaster in the history of the music business — and almost nobody knew. This is the story of the 2008 Universal fire.
Chuck Berry, 1958.CreditCreditPhoto Illustration by Sean Freeman & Eve Steben for The New York Times. Source Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.

Music Is Facing a Mental Health Crisis

Money is tight while they work long and weird hours, travel incessantly, are isolated from their friends and family at home, and have ample access to drinks and drugs. They write, record, release, and promote, and then repeat the cycle over and over again. And now, more than ever, the industry demands constant content, lest they are forgotten in the ocean of songs hitting Spotify every Friday. But then they get in the van and, especially in Canada, drive absurd distances between low-paying gigs for a tour they likely had to book themselves.

Responses

Your email address will not be published.