Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances)
Written by Denise Donlon
Publication Date November 05, 2016
2017 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Finalist
In this smart, funny, and inspiring memoir, Donlon chronicles her impressive and storied career, which has put her on the frontlines of the massive changes in the music industry and media. She chronicles her early days at MuchMusic and the music journalism show The NewMusic, where she was a host and producer, and quickly moved up the ranks to become director of music programming, then VP and general manager. Her mandate was relevance, during a time when music videos became a medium that would change pop music and popular culture forever. She became the first female president of Sony Music Canada, where she navigated the crisis in the music industry with the rise of Napster and the new digital revolution. She then joined CBC English Radio as General Manager and Executive Director when the corporation absorbed funding cutbacks, leading to mass reductions in people and programming and leaving a shadow over the future of Canada’s national public broadcaster.
Throughout her incredible journey, she shares colourful and entertaining stories of growing up tall, flat, and bullied in east Scarborough; interviewing musical icons such as Keith Richards, Run-DMC, Ice-T, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Annie Lennox, and Sting; working with talent agent Sam Feldman, media pioneer Moses Znaimer, executive vice-president of CBC Radio Richard Stursberg, and her co-host on the current affairs magazine show The Zoomer, Conrad Black. And finally, she details her life-changing experiences with War Child Canada and her work with other charitable organizations, including Live8 and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership.
Told with humour and honesty, Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances) is a candid memoir of one woman’s journey, navigating corporate culture with integrity, responsibility, and an irrepressible passion to be a force for good.
Short-listed for the Kobo Emerging Writers Prize for Nonfiction 2017
DENISE DONLON is one of Canada’s most successful broadcasters and corporate leaders. She has been a co-host and producer of The NewMusic, Director of Programming and VP/General Manager of MuchMusic/CityTV, President of Sony Music Canada, General Manager and Executive Director of CBC English Radio, and co-producer and co-host of The Zoomer. She has also devoted herself to numerous charitable initiatives, working with organizations such as WarChild Canada, MusiCounts, and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership. She sits on a number of boards and has been honoured with the Humanitarian Spirit Award and the Trailblazer Award at Canadian Music Week, Woman of the Year from Canadian Women in Communications, Woman of Vision from Wired Women, and was inducted in the Broadcast Hall of Fame. She is a Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Member of the Order of Canada. She lives in Toronto with her husband, Murray McLauchlan, and their son, Duncan.
"A backstage view of the Canadian and international music scene over the last thirty years: MuchMusic glory days, Sony during the Napster collapse, CBC Radio. Readable, engaging, fascinating even for those who know spit about music, such as me. Lotsa gossip by one who was there (plus being female and about 6 feet tall)." Margaret Atwood on Reco and Twitter
"Denise Donlon is the First Lady of the Canadian music business. Fearless as Possible (Under the Circumstances) is a funny and fascinating journey of a woman who has smashed every glass ceiling to smithereens and somehow has done it in the loveliest way. She also toured with Whitesnake. That alone makes it a must read." Alan Doyle, Musician, Actor, and Author of Where I Belong
"What a ride. From the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants origins of MuchMusic — sowing the seeds that grew into the Canadian music scene we know today — to fundraising for the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, this woman has done it all. Denise Donlon relates her tale with honesty and humour, and with a fair sprinkling of Canadian humility. She is a treasure and we are all lucky to have her at the wheel for so many of our critical cultural events." Jim Cuddy, Musician and Songwriter
"A beautiful, poignant, hilarious memoir from Canada’s best-known music journalist. Fearless as Possible is an honest and deeply personal account from the ultimate woman-on-the-inside who has turned the microphone on everyone, from rock scions to world leaders. Want to know what it’s like to go into labour taping a live MuchMusic special with the Cowboy Junkies? Travel with rock stars to conflict zones? Survive an artistic tussle with Leonard Cohen? Denise Donlon writes about it all. And in the process, she offers the kind of advice every underdog needs from the best friend we all wish for." Samantha Nutt, Founder of War Child and Author of Damned Nations
"Fearless as Possible is an essential book, an amazing cultural, musical, and historical journey chronicling Denise Donlon’s private and professional lives. She digs deep through her own history and shows how it has had an impact on ours. This book reminds us again, in case we’d forgotten, how boldly creative and artistic energy has helped shape the Canadian cultural landscape." Gordon Pinsent, Actor, Screenwriter, Director, and Playwright
"Denise Donlon is unstoppable. She lit the fire under a whole television station, rallying everyone who worked at MuchMusic to donate time, energy, and expertise, turning Kumbaya into the first and largest ever artist-driven Canadian fundraiser and educator for people living with AIDS/HIV. It just would not have happened without her. If you are looking to get into the culture business in Canada, and when you get there you want to use your power for good, then this is the book for you." Molly Johnson, Musician and Songwriter
"A self-assured, confident writer . . . Donlon writes regularly with gorgeous, raw clarity . . . [she] proves an inspiring figure." The Literary Review of Canada
"Denise Donlon isn’t just a Canadian media trailblazer, she is a fierce feminist, a sharp intellectual, and one of our country’s brightest beams of light. Reading Fearless as Possible is like sitting at the table of the greatest dinner party Canada’s ever had." Joseph Boyden, Scotiabank Giller Prize–Winning Author
"Denise’s beautiful and powerful writing will sweep you up on a journey that mirrors her life . . . FEARLESS!" David Usher, Musician and Author of Let the Elephants Run