Where it began, I can't begin to knowing
But now I know that it's growing strong ...
It is with sincere gratitude that I find myself having performed the music of Neil Diamond for more than twenty years. Having no plan to see this past the first five years, we have not turned away because of the great joy that performing this music brings to our fans and thereby ourselves.I came to Neil Diamond music vicariously. It was my parents’ music; the soundtrack to a life grown up in the 70’s. Beautiful Noise on the 8-track in the motor home on my way to Cultus Lake with my family for our summer vacation is a true story I tell from the stage. My parents slow dancing to Play Me in the rumpus room, Forever in Blue Jeans cranked at the family reunions on Vancouver Island.
Flash forward to my early twenties, working as an actor, trying to make ends meet in Toronto I enter a karaoke contest where I am discovered by an Elvis impersonator while singing “Rhinestone Cowboy” – a Glen Campbell song – but with a "Neil Diamond voice". That chance meeting started a career that has taken me around the world.
It is truly remarkable to make your living onstage; doing what you love with a great team is a dream for any musician or actor. What has kept this fresh and rewarding for me over two decades is the community effect our performances have on people. These are inclusive events – pack up the babies and grab the old ladies – to quote "Brother Love".
Recently it was said to me that the show is really in the audience. And that is so true. I love looking out at the crowd, watching the dance floor swell to accommodate the onslaught of people when the first “doo doo doo’s” of Sweet Caroline start on the keyboards. I love the gleeful abandon that grips the audience, dancing, singing the “ba ba ba’s”, hands touching hands. We’re all the same, for a few minutes, we all sing along and remember the good times and make new ones.
After the show, during the meet and greet, people share the most wonderful stories with me. They tell me how Solitary Man was their Dad’s favourite song or that they had their first kiss to Cherry Cherry or that their daughter is named Shilo. Sometimes we cry because they have lost special people and tonight the music and the memories have brought those people so close to them again. But most of the time, we laugh. We laugh because we’ve had a great time, together.
Knowing that my performances bring these memories and feelings to people is the gift to me; to feel that what I have done and shared over an evening really matters. Now, following the devastating news that Neil Diamond is retiring from international touring due to his Parkinson's Disease diagnosis that connection grows more precious. His songbook, his dedication, his lifetime on stage - all incredible influences on generations of people. My thanks and respect could not be more profound.
I thank those who have supported my show; those who sing and dance along; those who come to remember; those who come again and again. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for caring."