Daisy Peterson Sweeney dies at 97

Daisy Elitha Peterson Sweeney

Canadian music teacher Daisy Elitha Peterson Sweeney who taught some of the most notable Canadian pianists, including her brother, the late Oscar Peterson, died in Montreal on Friday. She was 97.

Sweeny co-founded the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir (now called the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir) with Trevor W. Payne in 1974.

She earned a music diploma from McGill University and later studied with Paul de Marky and Phillips Motley. She funded her lessons by working as a domestic servant, as a riveter in an airplane factory during the Second World War, and by teaching piano to neighbourhood children.

Among her students were jazz pianists Oliver Jones, Joe Sealy and Ken Skinner.

In 1987, she received an honorary doctorate from Laurentian University. In 2005, Montréal’s celebrations for the 180th anniversary of the founding of the Lachine Canal included a series of four gospel concerts dedicated in Sweeney’s honour.

Her daughter, Canadian Olympic athlete and television journalist Sylvia Sweeney, paid tribute in a Facebook post on Friday. She wrote that “there are few people who genuinely impact thousands of lives and remain silent in the wings watching their seeds grow. My mother Daisy was such a person. She sat hour after hour beside her students teaching them music and life lessons that few have forgotten.”

A public service will be held to celebrate the  life of Daisy Peterson Sweeney  at Union United Church, 3007 Delisle Street in Montreal,  on Saturday,