photo by Dan RubinJOHN BARRY COSSAR was born in the isolated community of Burgeo, on the rugged South Coast of Newfoundland in 1950. His dad, a fisherman originally from Red Island, worked for the local hospital after injuring his back. John's mom, Harriet Dicks, finished Grade Eight, then left school to look after her family. Life in Burgeo in those days was isolated, people there were independent. Thanks to his parents, who were avid readers, the house overflowed with books.

His first musical idol was his brother Joe who fronted several rock bands in Burgeo. John's dad was a closet songwriter, who once got to hear a song he had written inscribed to a metal LP disc. John taught himself to play guitar after his mom bought him a guitar from the Sears catalogue when he was fourteen.

He played until his fingers bled, first on the original electric, with a bowed neck and no amplifier, and later on a series of acoustic guitars. He says, "So far I have destroyed eight or nine." John says, "For the longest time I played drunk and stoned in front of a drunk and stoned audience." He calls it his "lost ten years."

Over the years he has lived and worked in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. He started working as a baker in Halifax in the late 1970s. His life has been a gentle drift with the tide from place to place. In 1979 he married his childhood sweetheart Betty Buckland-Cossar, an award-winning textile artist. After ten years of living together and another twenty two of marriage, he lost her to breast cancer in 2001.   His daughter Danielle is the light of his life.

These days he finds himself in St. John's, in the wake of a second marriage, living on his own, but more and more pursuing his passion for songwriting and performing. After years of supporting others, this is his time to shine.

John's songs are brilliant meldings of passion with well-crafted lyric. They have been compared to the folk and country ballads of artists like Bob Dylan, John Prine and Steve Earle. Audience response confirms it: these songs pierce you to the core with their heartfelt simplicity and deft turn of phrase. John Cossar is a songwriter to reckon with, who continues to develop new material, with more than forty recent songs already written, which he hopes to record. Established Newfoundland artists Chris Kirby, Sean Beresford and Geraldine Hollett are impressed by his songs. In December 2010 we released John's first CD, a seven-tune sampler titled Heart on Fire, at a well attended house concert in St. John's. Signed, numbered copies of that release are still available. It will be a true collector's item. The sampler was recorded with funding from MusicNL.

We applied again for funding for a full album, and again we were funded by MusicNL. Work on the full release began in February and we finished mixing and mastering late in the summer. The album was supported by more than a dozen musicians who contributed tracks, including Chris Kirby, Rick Lambe, Rick Hollett, Craig Follett, Mark Marshall, Roz MacPhail, Dan Rubin, Andrew McCarthy, Chris Davis and Rocky Wiseman. It is a wonderful collection of tunes, very powerful and varied in the musical styles it includes.

ANOTHER BRIDGE TO BURN was released in late September, 2011. It is beginning to gather a lot of attention from local media, musicians and fans. It's a classic collection of fourteen of John's original tunes, a journey of the heart. Copies are available at local outlets and a launch event is being planned for November, 2011.

Over the coming months, you will be hearing more about John Cossar. With a management contract and a record label supporting him, a demo EP and now a full commercial CD released, he is making his mark on the music scene in Canada. Everyone agrees that he is headed for wider shores and larger audiences. His songs are paving their own way to the world.

HEART ON FIRE - Seven Tune Sampler EP: December 2010
released by Blue Island Records (

ANOTHER BRIDGE TO BURN - Fourteen tune commercial CD: September 2011
released by Blue Island Records (