One of Canada’s most notable music journalists is teaming up with Durham College’s (DC) advertising students. The students are revamping a website award-winning journalist Karen Bliss dubs ‘anti-tabloid’, called Samaritan Mag.
Bliss, who says she doesn’t “tell” her age, has been working in the industry for approximately 30 years, with stories published in Rolling Stone, Billboard, NME, Time, Canadian Musician and many more.
Bliss is from London, England, but moved to Toronto at age nine where her career kicked off years later.
She says Canadian singer-songwriter Corey Hart is one of the reasons she became a music journalist. After attending his show at Toronto’s El Mocambo in the 1980s, “teeny bopper” Bliss noticed the lack of reviews for his concert and called the Toronto Star to complain.
“They said, ‘Oh, write a letter to the editor.’ So, I wrote something which they didn’t print, but I used that to get my first writing gig,” she says. “I told [Hart] that story years and years later, and we’ve actually become pretty good friends.”
She’s always been a huge fan of music and, as someone who “has no talent in that area,” Bliss says she saw journalism as a way to get involved.
“I started [writing] between high school and going to university,” she says. “I started writing for some local publications, and then I went to the University of Toronto and I did a double major in English and Music History.”
As a student, Bliss says she got involved with a radio show at CIUT, the University of Toronto’s radio station, and acted as the rock editor of the school’s Varsity newspaper.
“I took it really seriously.”
Bliss has been a freelancer in the industry from the start of her career. She says one of the first publications she worked with was Canada’s former music industry trade paper, The Record.
“While I would write for The Record every week and I had an indie column, I was also juggling writing for music magazines, or say, writing about music for fashion magazines or for film publications.”
In 2000, she became the Canadian correspondent for Rolling Stone, and held that position for 13 years. Bliss now fulfills the same role for Billboard.
“My dream gigs were always Billboard and Rolling Stone,” she says.
Bliss has interviewed many artists over the years, from Eminem, Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger, to Shania Twain, Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain.
“I don’t get starstruck because they’re just people,” she says matter-of-factly. “Very creative people.”
Bliss is hoping to add to her list of interviewees. She says, through the help of the students at DC, her online magazine – which highlights good deeds and charitable acts – should gain more traffic.
“I’d love it to be bigger…I’d like to get more support and more interest in that and more interviews for it,” she expresses. “Especially the musicians that have their own foundations and are really dedicated to a cause.”