Posts Tagged ‘organ donors’

Christmas Gift Celebrates 10 Years

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm


We’re bringing our Christmas Gift album back to the stage this holiday season! Starting off with the Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District (Fri Nov 25th 6:30 pm $6) and then a dedicated full length performance at London Ontario’s Aeolian (Sunday Nov 27th 3pm, $22- $30 tix).  We will also be performing some tunes from the project at Upstairs Jazz in Montreal (Dec 2),  Allsaints swing dance in Ottawa (Dec 3) and The Jazz Room in Waterloo (Dec 10)

The story of Christmas Gift….

In 2006 I recorded my Christmas Gift album to help raise awareness for organ donation. I’d seen people waiting for lung transplant, althought transplant had not yet entered my own life. The rampant commercialism of Christmas got me thinking about the misplaced spirit of giving… the gift of life is truly a gift worth giving. And so the album was born.

While the album is a non-typical roller coaster of Christmas tunes from the swing era, I also re-wrote some lyrics for the cause to a Julia Lee song, the Christmas Blues, “If one kind soul would sign on, I’d have a brand new song to sing….” That’s the only overt musical reference to organ donation on the album.

Since I made that record I was able to receive the gift of life in both 2008, and again in 2013. I remember there was one song on this album which became more and more difficult to sing as my disease progressed.  At present, the jam packed mouthful of words are such a joy to sing: I want to share that joy with you again!

Gift of Life…

Visit in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada to sign your consent to be an organ donor here. One person can save up to 8 lives & enhance countless others through organ and tissue donation!

The album….

A special re-pressing of this album has been prepared for this season! Having gone out of print, this 10th anniversary was a good reason to get it pressed again.  As CDs are going the way of the dinosaur, I’d like to point out that aside from being a nifty stocking stuffer, the CD itself also acts as a very reflective mirror for putting on holiday red lipstick, or straightening a holiday bowtie.

The band….

The group I’m traveling with this season includes myself, Peter Hill (piano), John Macleod (cornet), Chris Banks (double bass), and Glenn Anderson (drums.) There will also be guest cellist Christine Newland at the Aeolian show!

The rehearsal….

Click here to preview a few sounds from our rehearsal last week…. The Boogie Woogie Santa Claus!!

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A Celebration Of Life

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 1:46 am

When Trillium Gift of Life Network (the people who are in charge of arranging organ donation in Ontario) asked me to speak and sing at the “Celebration of Life” service and medal presentation to honour Organ and Tissue donors and their Families, I JUMPED at the chance.

But I hadn’t any idea it would be quite such an emotional night.  Of course, in theory I understood it would be somber. But I wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming human experience of sitting amongst the families of the donors. Of hearing them reminisce and cry and accept the medals for their loved ones.  It was, as Tom said, “like attending 75 memorials at once.”

I told them my story from the podium, I let them have an inkling of how my life was, and how now it is so simple to sing and to breathe since transplant.  Trillium asked me to sing “I’ll Be Seeing You”, a great wartime hit about missing the one you love. Later, after the medal ceremony and slide show I sang “Star Dust” Carmichael’s great tune that speaks of the “memory of loves refrain”. And the memories were great in the room. You could feel them everywhere. All sizes and colours and sexes and religions had gathered there. And to be part of that tapestry? I can’t explain how that felt. Intense?

So sitting there, seeing the families, and feeling their grief in the air was intense. Seeing a little girl and her Dad accept the medal for her Mom? There was no use in trying not to cry. In theory I think of these brave and generous souls often. But the act of seeing the families in the real — well it was overwhelming. That in their darkest hours they saw fit to allow others to live? Amazing.

I won’t lie: at moments I felt guilty. Felt guilty that I was sitting there beside my husband while they did not have their loved one. But to some of the ones to whom I spoke, at least, hearing me sing helped them in some measure realize the difference their loved one made. Some good out of tragedy.  Sometimes the sorrow seemed overwhelming within this community of families with a common bond… I can’t imagine how awful it feels to be a grieving family member. But BECAUSE of the generosity of someone like them, MY family is not grieving.  And for that there is no words. Just know that I won’t ever forget and I have now an even greater idea of the cost that my happiness comes at.

And for those of you wondering, Yes, it is rather difficult to sing when you’ve been trying to hold back tears for an hour! But I did it with the help of my stalwart pianist…and a very special set of lungs. I can only hope it brought some meaning to the attendants. Their stories certainly touched me. In fact, I am forever touched by them.