Music legend Oscar Peterson becomes the first black Canadian to be featured on a circulating coin
Canadians will soon be able to carry a piece of country music history in their wallets with the tossing of a coin commemorating legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.
The Royal Canadian Mint released a one-dollar coin on Thursday in honor of the late Montreal artist.
Marie Lemay, president and chief executive officer of the Mint, said Peterson was both the first black Canadian and the first musician to be featured on a circulating coin.
The Mint is issuing three million coins depicting Peterson, known as the “man with four hands,” playing the piano.
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His widow, Kelly Peterson, said the illustration also includes the final notes of his 1962 composition, “Hymn to Liberty,” which is considered an anthem of the civil rights movement.
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The coin will start circulating on August 15 to coincide with Peterson’s birthday.
Pianist and composer Thompson Egbo-Egbo paid tribute to Peterson with a special performance during his Toronto premiere.
Born in Montreal in 1925, Peterson is widely regarded as one of the leading jazz pianists of his generation, having won numerous Juno and Grammy Awards over his 60-year career.
He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame before dying of kidney failure in 2007 at the age of 82.
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