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University of Calgary receives heaps of Canada's music history with EMI archive

CALGARY — A massive archive of Canada's music history is finding a new home at the University of Calgary.

Thousands of hours of studio recordings and boxes of historical photographs from the likes of Tom Cochrane, Anne Murray and Nickelback are being donated to the school by the new owners of EMI Music Canada.

The archive offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a major record label and spans more than 60 years of the Canadian wing of EMI. It operated from 1949 to 2012 before being taken over by Universal Music.

Among the items expected to arrive over time are the master recordings for the Canadian version of the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" — which hit stores months before its U.S. release and unlike the American version includes "Drive My Car."

Thomas Hickerson, vice provost of the Calgary university's libraries and cultural resources department, says staff are only starting to dig into the first wave of material from the label.

About 13,000 original audio session tapes and master recordings will be included, from mostly Canadian performers, as well as 18,000 video recordings and 5,000 compact discs.

There are also demo tapes from various Canadian singers, including Montreal-born pop singer Corey Hart and Halifax rockers April Wine.

The university estimates about two million documents and photographs from the label will eventually land in its hands after spending years in a warehouse.

"For a corporate collection to be retained in such perfect condition in its entirety makes the collection very unique in itself," Hickerson says.

Aside from the music, he says the label also plans to donate boxes of documents which outline daily Canadian album sales and details of the day-to-day operations.

Some of the papers also highlight marketing plans, creative outlines for music videos, drafts of song lyrics and correspondence between artists, producers and EMI executives.

While the collection will be used by students, Hickerson says it will also be made accessible to both researchers and the general public. The university also plans to collaborate with the National Music Centre for public exhibitions.

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