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The Bob Edwards Award

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Oct 28, 2017

Jann Arden to receive Bob Edwards Award

The award is named after the Canadian satirist and humourist Bob Edwards, who created the Calgary Eye Opener, a satirical weekly newspaper that was first published in 1902.

While Arden may be best known as a musician, and has won eight Juno Awards, she has also published three non-fiction books. A fourth, Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss, will be published on Nov. 21. She is also working on a novel.

The Bob Edwards Award was established in 1977, when it was awarded to Grant McEwan, an author who was also a former Calgary mayor, MLA and lieutenant governor. The gala is a fundraiser for the Calgary Public Library Foundation. In 2016, the gala raised more than $300,000 to enhance programs and services offered by the Library.

“Libraries are probably one of my favourite places to spend time, or bookstores,” says Arden in an interview from a tour stop. “I could go into a bookstore anywhere on the planet and sit in a corner for six hours with a cup of tea and be as happy as I’ve ever been.”

Not that the award has exclusively been given to writers. The past five recipients have been an eclectic bunch: Former media baron Conrad Black in 2013; musicians Ian Tyson and Matthew Good in 2014; businessman and reality-TV star W. Brett Wilson in 2015; and former professional wrestler Bret (the Hitman) Hart last year.

Edwards’ had a reputation as an irreverent muckraker who cheerfully published gossip and satire in the Eye Opener and took on members of high society.

“He was a cutting-edge guy,” says Arden. “I always think of him as the Perez Hilton of Calgary back in those early days. Because it was very pop-culturey and about urban legends. It was like the non-news. It was fun.”

While Arden’s songs are generally not known for their humour, the singer-songwriter is known for her comical between-song banter. Her sense of humour has also been on display on her talk show, Being Jann, and her stints hosting the 2015 Junos in Calgary, guest-hosting on the chat show The Social and her appearances on the Rick Mercer Report and Corner Gas. 

“I’m very grateful,” Arden says. “It’s very kind of them. It’s very weird that I’m even in consideration for something like this. But it’s very humbling and kind and thoughtful and I don’t take it lightly. It means a lot to me. I’ll have to think of something good to say when I get up there.”

The Bob Edwards Gala takes place at the Fairmont Palliser on Thursday, Nov. 2.

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