Paul Gellman is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based on Gabriola Island, BC. He has written over 150 songs in an eclectic range of styles combining rock, pop, jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country, klezmer and more. He has performed solo and in bands for over 45 years, and brings a warm ambience to the stage.
Paul was a member of The Perth County Conspiracy in the ‘70s, touring and recording with the group, both in Canada and abroad. Later, he formed the band Island while living on Canada’s West Coast. Island performed original music for several more years, and was popular on the festival and community hall circuit in the west.
Born in Toronto in 1953, Paul was immersed from the very beginning in a very musical environment. His older brother Steven is a well-known Canadian composer and retired professor of music at the University of Ottawa. It was his early influence that inspired him to pursue musical studies. Starting at six years old, he studied violin and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Paul also studied theory, ear training, and was a member of the Conservatory String Orchestra.
At 15, Paul was lured into more popular music, and he began exploring song writing and performing in rock bands. He toured with bar bands on the Ontario, and then the B.C. circuits. These included Medicine Wheel, Wild Blue Yonder and others. In 1973, he joined the Canadian group The Perth County Conspiracy, and moved to Stratford, Ontario. During this time the group performed regularly at the Black Swan Coffee House in Stratford, and he toured across Canada with the group.
Paul participated in several recordings, including their Break Out to Berlin album, recorded in what was then East Berlin in February 1975. The Perth County group was invited to Germany as part of the International Political Song Festival to represent Canada. One of Paul’s original songs, Breaking Down the Walls, is featured on that album, which enjoyed wide success in Germany as well as in Canada.
Paul moved back to B.C. and invited two other members of the group, David Woodhead and Jerome Jarvis to join him. In 1977 they formed a new band called Island. The band’s versatility and innovative instrumental improvisation kept them busy performing across B.C. and Alberta for the next couple of years. Their independent release “Island Celebration” was completed in 1978 and released on cassette (!). The original recording engineer, Greg Pauker, offered to remaster the album, and we are planning to re-release it in July 2020.
In the late 70’s, Paul met Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the world-renowned “Singing Rabbi”, who inspired Paul to explore his Jewish roots and incorporate its spirit into his own music. He traveled with Shlomo and promoted and led bands performing in concert in Victoria, Vancouver, and other parts of B.C. Shlomo’s influence added to Paul’s wide mix of styles, including Hebrew, Yiddish and klezmer music, and also led to a rediscovery of the rich traditions of Judaism, from both a spiritual and cultural perspective.
Paul spent the next few years pursuing a solo career, performing in clubs and concerts in Ontario and B.C. Finally in 1985, he took a break from his musical pursuits and embarked on a new career in technology consulting, which became his main occupation for the next twenty-five years. At the same time, he continued to participate in several musical projects and bands, including Perth County Conspiracy reunions and revivals, Tom St. Louis’s Angels of Montenegro, and others. He also helped form a klezmer / Hebrew music ensemble known as The Nigunatics, and so widened his musical horizons with more exotic world music styles. Also during this time Paul continued to write and to explore different styles of musical communication. He learned more about jazz and incorporated many jazz standards and jazz flavoured originals into his repertoire.
In 2003, Paul decided to refocus more energy on his musical expression, and put together musicians to perform live and on recordings.
Paul released his CD “On This Island” in June 2005. On This Island reunites Paul and many of his old musical pals, most notably co-producer and ex-Perth County Conspirator David Woodhead, as well as some of the finest musicians in Canada.
Since then, Paul has performed regularly solo and with his own band focusing on original music, both in Ontario and B.C. He has also worked as a sideman, musical director and music coach for many other ensembles.
On June 28, 2020, Paul is releasing his new album Globalize, available on this website and through Bandcamp. A collection of 13 original songs with a stellar BC band!
Paul lives with his wife Amy on Gabriola Island, B.C., and together they share seven children and seven grandchildren (so far!).