After more than 50 years working behind the scenes in the arts, Protection Island’s Valley Hennell is heading into the B.C Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Last week the BCEHOF announced this year’s honourees and Hennell, a songwriter, producer, manager, publisher, editor and broadcaster, is being inducted in the StarMeritus category, formerly known as ‘Pioneers.’ A plaque bearing her name will be installed at the hall of fame gallery at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver.
Hennell was nominated by her husband, dulcimer player Rick Scott, who himself is a member of the hall of fame.
“When I was inducted into the BCEHOF StarWalk in 2019 my first thought was, I cannot accept this honour without Valley,” he said in an e-mail. “Any performance I’ve given, any country I’ve visited, every sold-out show I’ve played in the last 40 years, every accolade I have earned is due to this remarkable woman.”
Hennell said receiving the honour was “awkward and overwhelming and exciting.”
“It really gave me cause for reflection on how did this great adventure ever happen in my life,” she said.
The adventure began in 1966 when, as an aspiring poet, she enrolled in the creative writing program at UBC. Hennell said her instructors encouraged students to take film production classes and collaborate with the theatre department, where she befriended “a lot of the people who were to shape the arts going forward.”
“As a group we started to evolve the arts while we were still at school and then went out into the public domain and continued that work,” she said.
One of the people she met was folk singer Ann Mortifee. The two of them started writing songs together, which led to organizing concerts and eventually making a record. She said “that’s how my skills evolved.”
“I was 17 years old when I entered the creative writing department,” Hennell said. “By the time I left six years later I was a published author, I was a songwriter … I was a concert producer and an artist manager.”
Hennell said there are many talented artists who lack the business skills to promote and protect their work, and a skill that came to her naturally was to “connect the dots.” When she looks back on her career, she’s proud of her efforts to champion artists and their rights.
“For me it all goes back to the poem, and that comes from the imagination and so often that gets lost in the dollars and cents end of the industry,” Hennell said. “So I feel that the thing I set out to do back in the ’60s, which was make the product of our imagination visible, that I have been able to successfully do that.”