Remembering Alexander Mair
Last week the music industry was hit with the tragic news of Alexander “Al” Mair’s passing.
Mair’s illustrious career spanned over six decades and affected many within the Canadian music industry including both professionals and key organizations alike. His impact was especially felt right here at CIMA as Mair is so deeply rooted in the history and formation of the organization.
As one of the early leaders of the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA), now known as CIMA, Mair played a vital role in the development and advancement of the organization. His time serving on the Board of Directors spanned over 20 years with a stint as President of the Board during that period. Mair was also extremely active and passionate about CIMA’s Government Affairs Committee which focused on looking ahead at the future of the music industry.
“CIMA has been shaped by the vision and tireless work of industry giants like Al Mair,” says CIMA President and CEO Andrew Cash. “CIMA's strong advocacy voice for Canadian owned music companies is a direct consequence of Al's lifelong dedication to the organization. His invaluable commitment will never be forgotten.”
In 2016, Mair was honoured with CIMA’s Builder Award which spotlights outstanding individuals who have made significant, influential, and longstanding contributions to the Canadian Independent Music industry. It recognizes trailblazers who have earned the industry’s genuine gratitude and respect for paving the way for today’s music professionals to thrive while helping to define the industry. All of which perfectly embodied Mair.
During his acceptance speech Mair touched on the earlier days of his career as co-founder of Attic Records and business affairs manager to Gordon Lightfoot, stating that he’d “had a good run and enjoyed it” while continuing to offer his knowledge and guidance concerning today’s industry. Those in attendance absorbed his every word.
Despite stepping away from the organization in his later years, Mair continued to mentor industry professionals who would go on to sit on CIMA’s Board both as Directors and Chairs.
“Alexander Mair was a giant in our music community. A true builder. Staunchly independent and staunchly Canadian, he was a leader in helping to build our infrastructure through CIMA (then known as CIRPA) to create tools like CanCon and FACTOR so that a domestic industry was able to take root and grow,” says CIMA Director Shauna de Cartier (Six Shooter Records). “He was a mentor to Six Shooter and scores of other independent companies. He taught us how to navigate the international landscape and how to advocate for the independent position here at home.” Read the full tribute here.
“Al gave me my first job at a record label. I started as a secretary but it didn’t take long before he was dictating to me all of the letters he would write for the Board organizations he was always a part of. When I would ask questions, he always took the time to explain the minutia of the industry,” says Director Sandy Pandya (ArtHaus Music/Pandyamonium Management). “He was fierce, passionate, independent, and brilliant beyond words. I am so grateful to have had such a kind, gentle and generous mentor. Even as recently as a year ago, he helped me out surrounding an argument regarding CanCon regulations. A true loss to the independent record industry.”
CIMA’s current Chair Tim Potocic (Sonic Unyon Records) adds that, “In my early days in the industry Al reached out to lend a guiding hand and that is something I will never forget. He was a true leader in this industry.”
Tributes to honour Mair’s legacy have been pouring in since news spread of his passing and words like giant, mentor, leader, innovator, and builder are just some of the ways the industry is remembering his unforgettable presence.
“I am so sad to hear of Al Mair’s passing. I had great admiration for him both as a record man and as a person. He was one of the greats in the Canadian Music Business. We served on many of the same Boards and occasionally even at the same time. We were both Chairs of CIMA” says Bernie Finkelstein (True North Records). “Al’s name and reputation was synonymous with the Canadian Music Business. I could go on about Al but mostly just want to say I will greatly miss him and want to thank him for all that he did for Canadian music.”
It is only fitting that Mair was recently appointed to the Order of Canada as a Companion Member and was awarded the medal before his passing. Our thoughts go out to the entire Mair family and to every person he impacted throughout his enduring and ground-breaking career.
Read more tributes to Alexander Mair here: