Hugh Toner
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Hugh Toner


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"Toner sets the tone with new album"

SYDNEY — Hugh Toner hopes that universal themes explored in his new album will speak to the soul of everyone who hears it.
I Just Want To Be, the title of Toner’s first solo project, is set to be officially released Sunday at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
“I’m super excited about it,” said Toner, who grew up in Grand Falls, N.B., but has called Cape Breton home for the past 13 years, along with his wife Sandra, son Brandon and daughter Lauren. They reside in Georges River.
Earlier this year, Toner, along with his cousin, Jane Robichaud, was nominated for an East Coast Music Award for their collaborative Christmas CD, Angels and Light. The experience of recording that in 2007 motivated him to take on his first solo project, which he describes as an inspirational album.
“I’ve been inspired lately and there’s certain songs that jumped out at me. It’s almost like the songs chose me as opposed to me choosing the songs,” said Toner.
The album features well-known local musicians Aaron Lewis, Dave McKeough, Stephen Muise, Brian Talbot, Colin Grant, Allie Bennett, and Fred Lavery. The album was also recorded at Lavery’s Lakewind Sound Studios in Point Aconi.
“The album turned out phenomenally. I couldn’t be happier with it,” said Toner.
The recording features a wide range of popular and well-known songs, including Live Like You Were Dying, What a Wonderful Life, You Raise Me Up, I’m Yours and I Love the Way You Love Me.
The final song of the album is You’ve Got a Friend, which was originally going to be a duet between Toner and his daughter, Lauren. However, the final version of the track ended up featuring a solo by Lauren with some backing vocals by her father. He said the song is one of his favourites and that it makes him instantly feel better when he hears it.
“My 14-year-old daughter is teaching me,” he explained.
Toner, a pharmacist and owner of two Medicine Shoppe locations in Sydney, said he plans to record more albums in the future.
“I don’t know I’m going to do next. I don’t want to be put in a box in terms of what genre I sing,” he said. “I need to sing what inspires me. I’ll know it when it comes.”
Tickets to the CD release party are $10 and all proceeds from the evening will go to a new charitable group, Loving Our Youth, which was recently created by Toner to help youth in need in the community.
For tickets, visit or phone the Medicine Shoppe locations at 539-6640 and 567-114.
Tickets will also be available at the door.

June 25, 2009 - Laura Jean Grant - CB Post

"Hugh Toner’s second CD has a little something for everyone"

Sunday evening I enjoyed a lovely evening of entertainment at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre. It was the release of Hugh Toner’s first solo CD, I Just Want To Be, a follow up to Angels & Light, a Christmas recording released with his cousin Jane Robichaud in 2007. Originally from Grand Falls, N.B., Hugh has been in the Sydney area for some time and currently owns a pair of local pharmacies.
I Just Want To Be is delightful, containing 10 of the songs that have affected Hugh deeply over the years. There are songs of inspiration, songs from years past and songs off the current radio playlists. You will even find some local content as Hugh includes Pictures Worth A Thousand Memories, co-written by Fred Lavery (who produced the CD). Collectively, you have the perfect combination of music to highlight Hugh’s voice: smooth and clear and flowing so easily.
The concert featured all the recordings cuts, with Hugh backed by the musicians who performed on the CD, a real A-list band of some of the area’s best. Each number was carefully crafted, yet presented in a loose and relaxed manner. One of the highlights of both the CD and the concert is the version of Carole King’s classic You’ve Got A Friend. Lauren Toner, Hugh’s 14-year-old daughter sings lead, with her father providing the backup. She has a strong voice, still maturing in spots but with great potential.
The evening also had a second theme. This CD inspired Hugh to give back to the community in some way and he decided to set up a fund called Loving Our Youth, in response to the recognition that our young sometimes fall through the cracks.
I Just Want To Be is an excellent CD and I’m sure that it’s something that you will enjoy.
Last Friday I took in The No Class Reunion, the dinner theatre production that’s been running for the past while at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay. It was an excellent meal and a good evening of entertainment. The jokes were a bit corny in spots but usually fitting for the occasion. The music was quite good, as the seven-member cast included some good vocalists and some multitalented musicians.
The premise may be a bit hokey, (successful businessman seeks revenge on former classmates for real or imagined disrespect while in school), but the cast play their parts well. They get into their individual roles both on stage and on the floor as they served the meal, working the audience well in the process. It was an interesting evening of light entertainment that continues with eight more shows scheduled throughout July.
There was another nice night of music at the Wagmatcook Cultural Centre on Tuesday with singer Buddy MacDonald and fiddler Rachel Davis on stage before a larger audience. They even managed to get a square set going before the evening was over.
Next Tuesday Wagmatcook hosts Anita MacDonald and Susan MacLean with vocalist Carmel Mikol. On July 14 it’s Howie MacDonald, Brenda Stubbert and Blanche Sophocles. The same venue also hosts three more concerts over the next 10 days: tonight it’s Ontario vocalist Lynn Miles, on Monday it’s Melanie Doane and it’s the bluesy sound of The Porkbelly Futures on Saturday, July 11.
After Wagmatcook I made a beeline for the Cedars Club in Sydney to catch some music from Howie MacDonald and Robbie Fraser, with a special guest appearance by Mike Hall and Isaac Fraser. All these guys were really cooking, and the dance floor was full all night.
Friday I’m off to Canso for the start of The Stan Rogers Festival and I’m really looking forward to hearing Don McLean.

Dan MacDonald (BA Celtic Studies, Cert. Heritage Studies) is a former Inverness County resident who now resides in the Sydney area. Involved in the Cape Breton music scene for more than 20 years, he operates his own company, Creignish Hills Entertainment. Contact him at

July 2, 2009 - Dan MacDonald - CB Post


This CD is the second professional recording I have released in the past 2 years. First CD was a duet with Jane Robichaud called "Angels and Light" (Inspirational/Christmas)
This New CD named "Hugh Toner - I JUST want to BE"
Released June 28, 2009
Both have received airplay



I have been singing in public in some way all of my life. Now that my children are older, I have been reawakened to my gift of song. I love to sing music that speaks to the core of who I am. The music I sing is uplifting and inspiring. I gravitate to mellow introspective sounds but love all genres. I enjoy easy listening, country, rock, big band, crooner-type sounds. Wide range of musical influences include the Eagles, Garth Brooks, Michael Buble, Alan Jackson, The Beatles, Elvis, Brad Paisley, John Denver, Bruce Guthro, The Carpenters, Elton John, Tim McGraw, Jason Mraz...