Born in Aylmer, Quebec on New Year’s Eve 1954, Charlie Major seldom performed in front of audiences growing up, but once out of school, moved to Ottawa and began working the coffehouses. He wrote his own material and developed his smooth country style for a few years, then packed up his bags and travelled to Europe for the next decade. There, he soaked in the different ambiences and then put together a few makeshift groups after returning home from Spain.
In ’87 he entered and won a talent contest sponsored by Ottawa’s CKBY Radio, which came with a deal to release his song, “Back In ’73.” It did well enough on the local charts that he caught the attention of Arista Records execs. He signed a deal with the label and released his debut album, THE OTHER SIDE, in 1993. Six singles ensued – “I’m Gonna Drive You Out of My Mind, “I’m Somebody,” “It Can’t Happen to Me,” “Nobody Gets Too Much Love,” “I’m Here,” and the title track, a record for an artist’s first time around.
Every one of them spent time at #1 on the Canadian Country chart over the next year, and although none of them earned him a Juno the next year, he accepted the award for Country Male Vocalist of the Year, and was nominated for Best New Solo Artist. “I’m Going to Drive You Out of My Mind” did however win a pair of CCMAs (Canadian Country Music Awards), for which he also won for Male Artist of the Year. He repeated the podium sucess a year later, taking home the Juno for Country Male Vocalist and the CCMA for Male Vocalist. The album also peaked atop the charts, eventually selling double platinum in Canada (200,000 units).
His sophomore album came in the form of LUCKY MAN in 1995, by which time he’d also become a mainstay on the Canadian videowaves. The singles “(I Do It) For the Money,” “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” and “It’s Lonely I Can’t Stand” again all hit #1 on the country chart, making the album Major’s second straight platinum record, and solidifying him as one of the country’s hottest commodities. Two more singles were released by the summer of ’96, “Waiting On You” and “This Crazy Heart of Mine,” which peaked at #2 and #8 respectively. Also on the album was the lead-off “Someday I’m Gonna Ride In A Cadillac.” The song was one of the first Major ever had published, and was taken to the charts by The Minglewood Band a few years earlier.
He found himself up for two Junos again in ’96, winning for Country Male Vocalist of the Year. Now with an American deal with Imprint Records in place, he released HERE AND NOW later that year. Simply a compilation of his first two releases, it also featured his American Country Chart debut with “I Do It For The Money,” which stalled before entering the top 40.
But with Imprint imploding, he turned to another indie label, Vik Records, for EVERYTHING’S ALRIGHT in the fall of ’97. It peaked at #11 on albums chart, while the first single, “I’m Feeling Kind of Lucky Tonight,” peaked at #1 on the singles chart. Three more singles followed through to the following spring – the #4 hit “Some Days Are Better,” “Thank the Lord for the Night Time” (#48), and “You Can Trust in My Love,” which made the top 10 in Canada.
By this time Major had established himself as a natural shoe-in for most country and roots music festivals across the country. And after a series of tours throughout Canada and the US over the next year and a half, he took some time off, and although nominated for a Juno for Country Male Vocalist of the Year, he walked home empty-handed for the second straight year.
He returned with the album, 444 on Dead Reckoning Records in the spring of 2000. By the time of its release, the single “Right Here, Right Now,” a duet with Joy Lynn White, had already fallen out of the top 40, after peaking at #8. “One True Love” and “Side by Side” followed, both climbing into the top 40. Major hit the road again across the country, dipping into the US as well a few times over the next year or so.
Looking for new musical inspirations, he moved to Nashville for a few years, and upon returning he once again found a new label by the time he was ready to release a new album. Edmonton’s Stony Plain Records, home of the some of Canada’s top country and roots artists, seemed a perfect match when INSIDE OUT was on the shelves in April 2004. “My Brother and Me,” “When You’re Good You’re Good,” “I’m Alright,” and “You’d Better Go” all found their way to the charts, fuelling another series of tours through to 2006. Other tracks included the mournful “Last Peaceful Place,” and “Backroads,” a song he’d written for Ricky Van Shelton a decade earlier which earned Major a BMI Award as the Most Performed Song in America, and had long been one of his perennial fans’ live favourites.
He returned in late 2006 with SHADOWS AND LIGHT on Koch Entertainment, co-produced by Jason Barry. The duet with Kim Mitchell, “Young at Heart” drew praise from the critics, who said the pop-tinged song breathed new life into both artists’ careers. It was followed by two more singles, “Better World” and “That’s When I Feel Loved.”
Sony BMG and Vik Entertainment both released compilations through the fall of ’06 to spring of ’07. After the non-album single “Make It Right” entered and fell off the charts just as quickly in 2008, as the video did as well, he hit the road for another set of short tours, this time as a solo artist, backing up the likes of George Canyon and The Travelling Mabels, among others. Critics revilled in the shows, praising the intimate setting where he was allowed to tell a few stories in between the acoustic sets.
He moved over to EMI Music in 2011 for his first new album in the better part of five years. ON THE EVENING SIDE was generally regarded by critics as one of his most personal albums in years. The artist’s maturity showed in the singles “Through God’s Eyes,” “Keep On Living,” “My Lover Now,” and all had respective showings on the charts through to the spring of 2012.