I've been involved in Calgary's music community my entire life. Each step along the way taught me an important lesson and made me the performer I am today.
Let's start at the very beginning...
Piano Lessons ■ My parents bought an upright piano when I was 8 or 9 years old. I remember being reluctant to practice, until one magical day when I saw the keyboardist from A-Ha play "Take On Me" on his Yamaha DX7 at the 1986 Grammy Awards. The flair! The nonchalance! The ridiculous gloves! I was hooked... from that point on, I was determined to be a synth player. I still own that same upright piano (as well as three synths) and I play almost every day. Side note: I've seen A-Ha live six times, and their keyboardist still slays.
Calgary Boys' Choir ■ I joined the Calgary Boys’ Choir when I was 11 years old and I sang with them until my voice changed (which happened—quite shockingly—mid-performance at Salisbury Cathedral). Our conductor was Douglas Parnham, and every ounce of the musicality, artistry, and stage presence that I have today is because of his insistence on accountability and excellence. He was stern man... but wow, did he ever set his boys up for success down the road. I recorded my first album with them in 1986... a hodgepodge of songs appropriately titled "Pot Pourri".
Calgary Opera ■ In the late 80s, members of the Calgary Boys' Choir were asked to perform in Calgary Opera's productions of "La Bohème" and "Tosca". It was my first time on the big stage at the Jubilee, and I devoured every second of that experience. I returned to the Opera again a few years later as an extra in "Romeo & Juliette".
French Horn ■ I chose to play French horn in my junior high band. Looking back, I should have chosen something much, much smaller. While I'm thankful for having learned the importance of breath support from pushing a steady stream of air through 12 feet of brass tubing, the hassle of maneuvering that unshapely instrument case on public transit haunts me to this day. I fear the bruises may never go away.
The Young Canadians ■ For those who have never seen the Grandstand Show at the Calgary Stampede, it’s quite a production. As a member of The Young Canadians, your season culminates with 11 consecutive evening performances on an enormous outdoor stage in front of an international audience of 150,000+ spectators. It's visually overwhelming and intensely theatrical. The Young Canadians taught me how to dance while singing, and trained me in the basics of jazz and tap. I also credit them with teaching me to look WAY up to sing to all the people in the balcony… I see you!
Calaway Live ■ I spent a summer during high school working at Calaway Park, an amusement park just outside of Calgary. I split my time between dressing up as their mascot, Jack Bunny, for public appearances, and performing two 30-minute shows on stage. With multiple shows each day over the course of 50+ days, Calaway Live taught me the importance of making each performance just as special as the one before it (and solidified my love of cotton candy).
Guitar ■ I got my first acoustic guitar while in university, and a Fender Stratocaster a few years later. Am I a good guitar player? No... but you don't need to be good if you play loud enough (see next entry).
Discatch & Substance ■ I wrote, sang, played keyboards, and strummed a little guitar for two alternative bands during university. Discatch was unlike anything else coming out of Calgary in the 90s: danceable electronica. Our 1992 album, "Mind the Gap", was recorded and produced by Richard Harrow at Living Room Studios (looking back, we were quite a departure for Richard, whose engineering credits included Gordon Lightfoot, Ry Cooder, and Ian Tyson). A year later, we added an actual guitarist to the mix, and the band changed its name to Substance. Our 1993 album, "Infectious", was also recorded and mixed by Richard. While the music was a bit heavier than on our previous album, Substance had a few tracks in rotation at nightclubs like The Warehouse and Venom. My rockstar years (ha!) taught me a bit about marketing, a lot about songwriting, and a metric ton about using midi controllers, samplers, and four-track recorders.
Youth Singers of Calgary ■ My time with the Youth Singers of Calgary was an absolute blast. Not only do you get to sing under some of Calgary’s best artistic directors, but you also get to learn about staging, choreography, and theatre arts from incredibly creative people. On top of that, with their touring program, you get to see the world and perform in iconic venues with your best friends... what's not to love? YSC taught me how to be completely confident on stage—to know your part and deliver it passionately. I loved the organization so much that I went on to serve as tour director for their trips across China, South America, and Costa Rica, letting a new generation experience that feeling of confidence and creativity.
Calgary Men's Chorus ■ I joined the Calgary Men’s Chorus just after my 40th birthday. It was a joy to sing under the direction of both Jean-Louis Bleau and Malcolm Edwards, as there’s something magical about the distinctive, powerful sound of an all-male choir. The CMC taught me that choir isn’t just about singing… it’s about building a community and finding ways to use your voice to support others. I served on the CMC’s board for five years (including two as president), and am proud of how well we represented Calgary’s LGBT+ community and that we were able to give back to so many important local charities along the way.
Revv52 ■ I currently sing tenor with Revv52, one of Canada's most progressive and energetic vocal groups. Revv52 is a huge level-up from anything I’ve done before. It’s not a choir—it’s more like a rock concert with eight-part harmony. Building off of everything else I’ve learned along my journey, Revv52 adds professional elements to the mix: singing on microphone, studio recording techniques, digital audio workstation tutorials, vocal coaching, staging workshops, video production, solo work, small ensemble work, and much more. Revv52 is a bright spot in my life, and I’m overjoyed to be a part of this group as a singer, president of the board, and a sustaining donor.
ReMix: Powered by Revv52 ■ After three years in Revv52, I joined ReMix In the summer of 2022. ReMix is made up of a handful of Revv52 singers who bring the vocal power and blended harmonies of the full group to smaller private functions and public events.
That's the soundtrack of my life so far. If you played a role in this journey... thank you. xx
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