Music legend Oscar Peterson becomes first Black Canadian featured on a circulation coin

WATCH: Honouring a Montreal musical legend

Canadians will soon be able to carry a piece of national music history in their wallets with the launch of a coin commemorating legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a one-dollar circulation coin Thursday honouring the late Montreal artist.

Mint president and CEO Marie Lemay says Peterson is both the first Black Canadian and the first musician to be featured on a circulation coin.

The Mint is issuing three million coins depicting Peterson, know as “the man with four hands,” playing the piano.

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His widow, Kelly Peterson, says the illustration also includes the final notes of his 1962 composition, “Hymn to Freedom,” which was embraced as an anthem of the civil rights movement.

The coin will start circulating on Aug. 15 to coincide with Peterson’s birthday.

Pianist and composer Thompson Egbo-Egbo paid tribute to Peterson with a special performance at the unveiling in Toronto.

Born in Montreal in 1925, Peterson is widely regarded as one of the foremost jazz pianists of his generation, winning 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.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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