The song “Black Velvet” was written by Christopher Ward and David Tyson and recorded by Alannah Myles. As one of four singles to be released from Myles’ 1989 eponymous album, the song was released in January 1990. A Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit, it also reached number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart in 1990, number ten in her native Canada, and number two on the UK Singles Chart. It was also a major hit in several other countries besides Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. The song contains blues verses and a rock chorus.
Myles won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the song as well as the 1990 Juno Award for Single of the Year. The power ballad has been airplayed extensively since its release, earning ASCAP’s Millionaire Award for more than four million radio plays in 2005.
Background and writing
The song is a tribute to Elvis Presley, whose portrait was often painted on black velvet, and who used a hair dye called Black Velvet. Chris Ward, Myles‘ then-boyfriend, was inspired on a bus full of Elvis fans riding to Memphis for the Graceland 10th anniversary vigil in 1987. Upon returning to Canada, he discussed his idea with Alannah and producer David Tyson, who composed the song’s bridge. In addition to this song, Myles presented a demo to Atlantic Records, which eventually led to her being signed to the label.
To the dismay of Myles for whom the song had been written, Atlantic Records gave the song to country singer Robin Lee for recording. The result was that Myles was promoted on the pop and rock radio stations by Atlantic, and Lee on the country radio stations. Lee even filmed a video of the song that is very similar to Myles’ video.
As part of a digitally released Elvis tribute EP, Myles re-released the song as a new version to commemorate 30 years since the King’s death. Later, it was included on her 2008 Black Velvet album.
Doug Freel directed the music video, which was partially shot on Myles‘ family ranch in Buckhorn, Ontario. In this clip, Myles sings on a porch with her guitarist, Kurt Schefter (Raving Mojos), intercut with scenes from Myles in concert with her band. Filming for the concert scene took place in Kingston, Ontario, at a bar called Stages.
Check out this terrific video shot in a barn directly. It just turned out fantastic. Daria with her Band Vile Vendetta in #action.
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