Friday, July 3, 2015

D is for Celine Dion, Dream Warriors/Devon and Aselin Debison

     Quite simply, Celine Dion possesses one of the purest, most beautiful singing voices in the world!  We are all very proud of everything that Celine Dion has been able to accomplish throughout her singing career, which started when she was barely a teenager in Quebec.  Her voice, which seems to flow almost without effort, knows few peers (Barbara Streisand?  An early Whitney Houston, perhaps?)  As much as Celine Dion is to be commended for her talent, she is equally well-respected for the classy manner in which she lives her life.  Family-oriented, altruistic, compassionate....Dion has lived a relatively private life for someone so squarely in the public eye.
     Celine Dion has won virtually every major singing award for which she is eligible.  Her first award came way back in the early 1980s when she won the Eurovision song contest, entering under the banner of the Swiss flag.  From there, she began expanding her repertoire of English-language songs and soon began to achieve success that won her Juno Awards, as well as, her first Grammys. But, it was with the main love song for the movie, Titanic, that Celine Dion achieved her greatest level of success.  Sales from My Heart Will Go On soared to record levels on a worldwide scale.
     Whether it is her family life, her music or her charitable interests, Celine Dion pours her heart into everything she does and, as a result, has become one of the most popular and respected musical artists the world has ever seen.  We are happy that she calls Canada her home.

    It isn't always easy to go first.  Being a pioneer or a trailblazer can be lonely work. But, sometimes, an artist will come along and not see their style of expression evident in their surroundings or among their peers. However, part of being an artist is remaining true to the vision that exists within your heart. So it was in the early 1980s with Rap and HipHop artists.  "Street poetry" was not something pouring forth from Top 40 playlists.  In the United States, the rappers of today can point to the like of Run-DMC and Public Enemy for helping to bring Rap and HipHop to a wider, more mainstream audience.  In Canada, along with Maestro Fresh Wes, we can point to the emergence of "D"- name legends Dream Warriors and Devon, for helping to raise the awareness of what a potent art form Rap can be.
    All three pioneers honed their skills in the Jane-Finch housing complexes of Toronto.  Their songs spoke to the politics of oppression felt by those affected most by Race and by Poverty and by Injustice.  Their lyrics were often be fuelled by anger but, also, by hope for a better deal from Life.  In any case, being original is never easy. Standing up and standing out, never comfortable......unless you are utterly comfortable and confident that yours is a message that simply has to be heard...on your the loudest, funkiest possible voice imaginable.  That was what Devon and the Dream Warriors accomplished during their time on Canada's HipHop throne.  Their contributions are respected by an entire nation, as a result.

     Finally, I would like to introduce you to a young performer who holds a special place in both, Keri's and my heart....Aselin Debison.   When Keri and I were first dating and the time came for Keri to meet my mother on Cape Breton Island, we had no idea that we would become part of a live concert taping and that the eleven year old performer would end up impacting our lives for.....well, forever.   Upon arrival in Glace Bay, my hometown, my mother informed us that there was to be a special concert taking place down by the harbour and asked if we were interested in going.  We agreed to go and ended up listening to a young celtic singer named Aselin Debison singing a variety of Cape Breton favourites, all the while, the seagulls swooped and the fishing trawlers sailed in and out by the wharf.  The concert was taped by the local CTV affiliate and later aired on national TV in Canada.  In the video, you cannot see us but, trust me, I was sitting there, holding Keri's hand, along side my mother who had hoped I would propose to Keri at the concert, with the Celtic music as a backdrop to our union.   Sorry Ma.  Didn't turn out that way.
     However, flash forward few years.  We were awaiting the birth of our first daughter and were discussing names.  We had decided that we wanted our child's first name to be something uniquely hers but, that her second name should have some family meaning.  Eventually, after much back and forth discussion of this name and that, we settled on our daughter's first name being, Leah.  For her middle name, we decided not to go with any of our mother's or grandmother's names but, instead, to acknowledge where we had gotten married (which was in Glace Bay, not far from the sight of the Aselin Debison concert.)  So, when the hospital officials had us fill out the birth certificate, we proudly wrote our daughter's name as Leah Aselin MacInnes.   "Aselin" after Aselin Debison, the young lady who sang of Cape Breton on our first date with Ma.  :)

     As always, a proud shout out to the following "D"-list musicians:

Rick Danko, from the legendary group, The Band, modern pop star, Shawn Desman, Alt-rockers, The Darcys, Techno/Electronica superstar, Deadmau5, R&B sensation, Fefe Dobson, Denny Doherty, from the Mamas and the Papas, Rap megastar, Drake, Pop star, Victoria Duffield, Singer/songwriter, Damhnait Doyle, Broken Social Scene co-founder, Kevin Drew , Crooner, Matt Dusk, Alt-rockers, The Dears, Current chart-toppers, Death from Above 1979 and, of course, no list of Canadian "D"-listers would be complete without punk pioneers, The Diodes and, of course, D.O.A.

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