LUBA (b Luba Kowalchyk). Singer, songwriter, b Montreal, of Ukrainian parents, 1958. Luba sang in her teens for Ukrainian communities across Canada and trained briefly as a mezzo-soprano but displayed a dynamic, gospel-inflected singing style with the rock band she formed in Montreal under her own name in 1979 with Peter Marunzak (drums), Mark Lyman (guitar) and others. Her initial LP was Chain Reaction (1980, TGO-7003, Paralophone). This was followed by the EP, Luba (Cap DLP-3003), which included 'Everytime I See Your Picture,' popular in Canada in 1983. Several hits in a variety of pop styles followed, among them 'Let It Go' (from Secrets and Sins, Cap ST-12351) in 1984, 'How Many (Rivers to Cross)' (from Between the Earth and Sky, Cap ST-12472) in 1986 and 'When a Man Loves a Woman' (from the CD Over Sixty Minutes with Luba, Cap CDP-48553) in 1987.
The album All or Nothing (Cap C1-93176), issued in 1989, saw a change in her musicians and introduced elements of folk music. Three of its songs were popular: 'Giving Away a Miracle' in 1989 and 'Little Salvation' and 'No More Words' in 1990. All songs noted, save 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' are her own. She was a finalist with 'How Many' at the 1985 World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo. 'Let It Go' and 'The Best Is Yet to Come' were heard in the US feature film 9 1/2 Weeks (1986).
Luba toured nationally, first as an opening act for Chris de Burgh and 1984-5 for Bryan Adams and then as a headliner. The TV special 'Luba, Between the Earth and Sky,' produced by Cambium Film & Video Productions, Ltd, and seen on CBC in 1988, included footage of energetic performances at the 1987 Juno Awards ceremony, the Club Metropolis in Montreal and the Ontario Place Forum. Luba received Juno awards 1985-7 as best female singer and in 1986 for best video ('How Many,' directed by Greg Masuak). She also won Félix awards in 1985 for dance record of the year ('Let It Go') and in 1986 for best English pop/rock LP (Between the Earth and Sky) and as anglophone artist of the year. Canadian sales of Between the Earth and Sky and of All or Nothing exceeded 100 000.
After her band broke up in the early 1990s, Luba took a break from recording until 2000, when she released a new album, From the Bitter to the Sweet (AZCD-1200), on her own newly formed Azure Music label. All songs were written by the singer-songwriter and draw on Luba's experiences during her years out of the public eye. They feature an understated version of Luba's well-known vocals, overlaid onto less synthesized, more acoustic instrumentation, resulting in a modern adult contemporary sound. The album's debut single, "Is She a Lot Like Me," was a mainstay on Canadian radio in 2000, cracking the RPM adult contemporary Top 20, while the video was on MusiMax rotation. "Let Me Be the One" was the album's second single. The 2000 album was toured across Canada, and in November 2001 Luba's performance at the Montreal Spectrum was aired nationally as a TV concert special.