How Canadian Music Week changed the life of a Canadian musician

Travelling the world with Alessia Cara

For the past three years, Stoney Creek’s Eric Ruscinski has been playing guitar and keyboards for the Grammy-winning singer

Courtesty of Graham Rockingham, The Hamilton Spectator – Re-Printed by The Record


Eric Ruscinski was driving home to Stoney Creek after an afternoon making a few extra bucks giving guitar lessons in Oakville. He was tired and frustrated with the direction his career was heading — nowhere.

A friend was on the phone pestering him to go to a Canadian Music Week music showcase in Toronto. Hang out, see some friends, make a few connections.

Ruscinski reached Guelph Line before giving in, turning his car around and heading to the Revival Bar on College Street.

Eric Ruscinski Travelling with AlessiaNow Eric Ruscinski’s life is private jets and playing stadiums with Grammy-winning Alessia Cara. – Courtesy of Eric Ruscinski

He doesn’t remember who was playing at the club that night, but he’ll never forget meeting a music industry bigwig named Chris Smith.

Smith had launched Nelly Furtado’s career and was now managing another young up-and-comer by the name of Alessia Cara. Alessia’s band was in need of someone who could play guitar and keyboards.

The next day, Ruscinski was in rehearsal with Alessia. The following week he was in New York playing a showcase with her.

He’s been by her side ever since, playing stadiums across Europe and North America with Cold Play, two Juno Award shows, and all the major American TV talk show, including “The Ellen Show,” “Saturday Night Live,” and Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show.”

That chance meeting at the Revival Bar was in early 2015. Alessia was just 17. Her breakthrough hit “Here” was just starting to hit radio. The Brampton-born singer is now 21 and at the top of the music world, winning a Grammy two weeks ago for best new artist.

“I think she deserved it, 100 per cent,” Ruscinski, 27, says from his new home in Los Angeles about Cara’s Grammy. “There was a lot of debate afterwards about whether she should be considered a ‘new artist,’ but I think that she fit the criteria for the award perfectly.

“She’s an artist that is changing the landscape of the industry. She’s making an important statement to kids and young women. The fact that she was the only woman who won that night on the televised awards was something. I think she is someone to look up to.”Eric Ruscinski Travelling with Alessia