In 1970, nine years after leaving the United States to study music in Canada, Beverly Glenn-Copeland released two self-titled albums. Both were a stunning showcase of classical and jazz acumen, layered with poetry and accompanied by some of the best players of the time. Original pressings now fetch thousands of dollars. Glenn-Copeland then vanished as a recording artist until his re-emergence in 1986 with the release (just a few hundred copies on cassette) of what many now believe to be his masterpiece, Keyboard Fantasies. Thirty years later, revered Japanese record-collector Ryota Masuko came across one of those cassettes and went on a mission to turn other audiophiles onto Glenn-Copeland’s work and to find the artist himself.
Word spread and a cult following was quickly amassed. After repeated requests for live performances, Beverly Glenn-Copeland acquiesced, forming a band of young musicians he calls Indigo Rising and playing his first-ever shows in Canada and Europe. Nearly 60 years after he departed the United States, Beverly Glenn-Copeland returned in late 2019 with a performance at MOMA in New York City alongside a short documentary from the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s In the Making series and a screening of feature documentary Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story by Posy Dixon.
Winner of the 2020 Audience Award at Hot Docs, the film - part biopic, part tour documentary - catches up with Glenn-Copeland as he embarks on his first international tour at the age of 74. The film is currently appearing on the international festival circuit and upcoming screenings can be found here.
Although the recorded output of his career has been sparse, he has been prolific in other ways. Canadian’s knew him best as regular guest ‘Beverly’ on the beloved Canadian children’s TV show Mr. Dress-up for nearly 30 years. He wrote for Sesame Street. He wrote musicals, operas, children’s music and hundreds upon hundreds of other songs even though he only had the means to record those few aforementioned albums. ‘There is this incredible underlying thing,’ he says, ‘that joy and suffering is a part of life. Life is good and bad. There is something profound to being alive. The great joy is to be alive. That is wondrous. Being alive means you’re going to go through some hell, some wonderful stuff and a lot of stuff that is neither here nor there.’