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Fred Penner, a children’s musician creating impact

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Surrey B.C. | From playing and singing his guitar on a school bus as a young teen, to performing nationally and putting smiles on children’s faces, Fred Penner’s love for music and connection made him the beloved musician he is today.

For the upcoming year, Fred Penner has once again packed up his guitar and hit the road. He’s begun his tour travelling through the country and in early February landed in Surrey to perform at The Surrey Arts Centre.

Penner’s career as a children’s musician has earned him four Juno Awards for Children’s Album of the Year, the fourth being awarded to him in 2018.

A career singing to young children and their parents was not a career Penner had predicted.

After receiving his high school diploma, Penner attended the University of Winnipeg where he became the first in his family to receive a post-secondary education. He graduated with a major in economics and a minor in psychology.

Although, Penner had only decided to study economics because it was a good shot at finding work after graduation.

“The interesting thing is, nobody along my journey ever told me that I could make a living as a performer and nobody ever said, you’re good enough to do that.”

Despite never being told he would make a great musician one day, he still loved to sing. And had been playing his guitar since he was 15-years-old.

After the passing of his sister and his father, Penner started reflecting on what he wanted out of life.

“What is it that gives me bliss? What is it that gets inside of me? makes me feel?” he asked himself.

Music was the answer and was the only thing he had enjoyed.

Penner’s career started to grow as he worked on repertoire and skill as a performer.

He began to play in bars, lounges and began to act in the theatre.

As his career started to evolve, Penner met his, now ex-wife, who started a children’s theatre company that led to an offer for a record deal. That record was “The Cat Came Back,” a record company that had also produced for Raffi Cavoukian, a Canadian children’s singer and lyricist.

As his career took off, Penner did not settle on his skill but worked to improve.

“I was pretty self-confident. Generally, I trusted my ability to make things work. But still, I needed a lot of practice as with anything to grow into and just become a better musician, a better songwriter, a better singer.”

At the time Penner began to perform and improve his talent, he embarked on attempting to make a difference in a critical time.

“I was trying to bring forward into the family demographic, connection. Because of the post-war generation, the baby boomers had a huge demographic that were now having their own children and they really wanted quality entertainment for their kids.”

Penner says the demographic of young parents after the Second World War was prominent and that this audience was sending clear messages to create music that engaged their children.

After addressing and focusing on his target audience, this became the turning point for Penner and for many musicians at this time.

Today, Penner has produced 12 children’s albums and is dedicated to continuing to try and make a difference.

Penner’s work has impacted both children and parents, many of which reach out to him to thank him for his work.

Penner has accomplished a lot in his career as a children’s musician and in early February he had released his newest single which was made with World Vision.

The song, “Somebody Believes” was inspired by a man in the Philippines who had been rescued from poverty and injustice. As he told the story of his life it had led him to the phrase “somebody believes.”

This new chapter in Penner’s artist career has led to him to be excited about the challenges and new risk and path he is taking.

“I am to continue to try and make a difference and to improve others to be to be strong and focused and supportive to other people in this world. Because ultimately, we are in this together, that’s the bottom line.”

Nikitha Martins' ability and love for producing: articles, films, and photos; lead to her decision to be a visual journalist, all to tell impactful stories and give voices to people that haven’t gotten the chance to. She loves the multi-platform and energy of the newsroom.

Music

Surrey-local Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights Pulls At Heartstrings Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

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Visuals and animation done by Peca Petrovic of Smile Magnet.

The winter months have proven to be some of the toughest of the Covid-19 pandemic in British Columbia. Many people have been faced with loss, some for the first time. It is hard to comprehend the thought that a loved one is just not there anymore. But you are not alone. And Ranj Singh’s Restless Nights makes sure you know it.

Restless Nights is just 3 weeks old now, premiering amidst some of the highest Covid-19 related deaths that British Columbia has seen. With our province also under strict pandemic restrictions, many of us spent the holidays alone. Restless Nights came at the perfect time. The song speaks to the difficulty of not being able to be with the people you love, whether that separation be due to distance or loss. Many people have felt this hardship this year, including Singh himself.

“Over one year ago, I lost my older brother and wanted to write a song that would capture my grief. I am sharing Restless Nights in the hope that it may bring comfort and closure for those of us who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one, without getting to say goodbye. I want to reach out, especially during these COVID-19 days, and let you know that you are not alone,” he says.

This loss shines through in Singh’s vocal and lyrics. The raw vulnerability that he sings with holds an authenticity that cannot be replicated without having to navigate the firsthand experience of losing a loved one.

Singh’s lyrics and musicianship are complimented by visuals and animation done by Peca Petrovic of Smile Magnet. The video shows Singh walking through an empty park, playing his guitar. Other images flash by that are meant to draw our eye, whether they be memories of his own family or the prominent image of Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix at their daily address.

You can watch Restless Nights on YouTube now.

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New Christmas Originals CD from Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan!

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Vancouver Singer-songwriter Cat Levan
spreads the love with “The Joy of Christmas”

Produced by Billboard chart-topper Steve Oliver, her new EP dropped on Nov 6

Longtime Vancouverite Cat Levan’s second album (EP) “The Joy of Christmas” released November 6th, breathes fresh feeling into the much-loved classic “Silent Night”, and introduces two new favourites that will have listeners craving snuggles and hot cocoa by the fire. Her sultry tone brings an intimate feel to #1 hitmaker Steve Oliver’s engaging ballad “Watching the Snow Fall”. The idea for her self-penned, softly-rhythmic title track “The Joy of Christmas” sparked earlier this year when she spotted a tiny Christmas tree in the studio where she was recording her first album “Double Life”.

“I love Christmas, not just the tinsel, lights and gifts, but the whole idea that there is a time of year when people give a little more, care a little more and open up their hearts to others. Maybe we can’t all hug right now due to Covid, but I hope this song feels like I’m giving you all a big, warm, hug!” offers Levan.

As a lyricist, she is a storyteller who writes about love, connection and the warmth of family, which suit the vulnerable qualities inherent in her ethereal voice.

“The Joy of Christmas” is dedicated to my Mom who always made Christmas so special, and to those who’ve lost someone and really feel that loss at this time of year,” admitted Levan who has also launched two videos on Youtube to accompany the album release: The Joy of ChristmasWatching the Snow Fall .

Levan found that remembering family times helped her let go of heartache. “The memories spark traditions which in turn, keep the memories alive. It’s a wonderful way to honour those who are no longer with us,” reveals Levan saying that the song “Watching The Snow Fall” is “about the holidays becoming even more wonderful when spent with your special someone. Creating new memories with them can once again make this a magical time of year. It’s about feeling the love as you watch the snow fall…”

She brings a solid groove to “Silent Night”, a well-known traditional Christmas carol. A subtle gospel rhythm speaks to the soul and gives an ancient song new life. Her voice gently caresses the lyrics and brings renewed meaning to the words “heavenly peace”.

The “The Joy of Christmas” EP contains the following songs: “The Joy of Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “Watching the Snow Fall”. Curl up with a glass of wine and listen to Levan as she casts a Christmas spell with “The Joy of Christmas”

About Cat Levan:

A former professional kick-boxer, restaurant owner, clothing designer, marketing director, illustrator – and mother, Cat Levan finally realized her long-held musical dream this past spring when she released her debut album, “Double Life”. The Vancouver-based artist teamed with Billboard Top 10 hitmaker and guitarist Steve Oliver to write seven original songs for the 11-song recording produced by Oliver in his Southern California studio.

Her Canadian countryman and brother-in-law, contemporary jazz saxophonist Walle Larsson (married to her sister, Juno Award-nominated singer-songwriter Melanie Chartrand), guested throughout the collection that finished production just prior to the closure of the border due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tracks from the CD have been played by host Nou Dadoun on “The A-Trane” Vancouver’s longest-running jazz radio show and are now charting in regular airplay rotation on smooth jazz radio stations across the USA and UK, as well as on “Wave FM” Canada’s main smooth jazz station located in Southwestern Ontario.

Levan’s quest for music brought her to the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, where she was a soloist, and Soundscape A Capella group where she discovered harmonies. She has been a guest artist with blues bands and classic rock bands but decided it was time to explore her own music.

Levan’s friend Chris Thornley, who plans the annual Blues for the Bank benefit concert in Surrey who like Levan is also a singer and marketing professional, said he’s impressed by Levan’s musical efforts. “The quality of production, arrangements and songwriting are all first-class.”

For more information, please visit https://catlevan.com.

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Surrey-based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis, Defies Western Beauty Standards Through Music, Fashion and Beauty

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By Navreet Dhaliwal

Surrey-Based Jazz Artist and Entrepreneur, Natalia Pardalis is using music, fashion, and beauty as expressions to challenge western beauty standards that she has been faced with since her younger days as an emerging artist and entrepreneur.

“Breaking stereotypes since 1979” has become a part of Natalia’s rhetoric because of her journey as an artist and her mission to go against the grain of what she was told to do in order to be a more successful artist and entrepreneur. Natalia states how a woman’s age has come to define her in the music industry. Natalia got her breakthrough into the music industry in her late 20’s, which could be considered as a “late start” by music industry standards. Natalia’s reps at that time would go on to tell her she is in luck due to the fact that she looked so young.

For years, Natalia stuck with the narrative of being perceived as young just so she could find success with what she loved to do, which was play music. Overtime, Natalia states “I didn’t feel authentic as an artist and did not like playing along to the narrative of being younger than I actually was.” Overtime, Natalia did what she does best, which is to break stereotypes and start stating her actual age to let her audience know about her journey as an artist and the hard work it took her to get to where she is.

From the get-go, Natalia was often told that she needed to lose weight and be a specific body type in order to garner success as a musician and entrepreneur. Growing up with this negative narrative and witnessing it being instilled in female students that she was teaching, Natalia chose to speak out against body-shaming through her ventures and the online platform that she has come to build as an artist. Once again, Natalia is on her mission to break stereotypes as she weaves strong messages of body positivity in her body of work and her online platforms, Natalia states “no one’s body affects who they are, their music, their voice, and what they can do.”

Natalia admits that her journey to go against the grain of western beauty standards has not been the easiest thing to do. She states “life has been hard but it’s also been beautiful.” She has been able to discover herself through her journey and come to the fact that it is not okay for anyone to be turned down opportunities simply due to the fact of who they are and how they don’t fit into a cookie-cutter image of success.

Using her music, her lifestyle, and her beauty brand, Natalia wants to build a community of like-minded individuals who feel like they are not alone as they figure out who they are and not feel like they are stuck at a disadvantage because they don’t fit into a certain “ideal” image of beauty.

Natalia released her newest single “Mr. Slowpoke” in June, which can be found on Spotify. If you want to keep up to date with Natalia’s journey as an artist and entrepreneur, she can be found on @natavivi on Instagram and on Facebook as Natalia Paradalis Music.

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Legendary Canadian Band HONEYMOON SUITE Hit the Top 30 Rock Charts for the First Time in 19 Years

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“Find What You’re Looking For” Latest Release Previewing New Album, Their First Since 2008 | Watch “Find What You’re Looking For” via YouTube Here

36 years on, that headline above makes the fact all the more impressive. Canadian classic rockers Honeymoon Suite hope you “Find What You’re Looking For” in this, their newest single – available now!

The newest preview for the iconic band’s forthcoming album, “Find What You’re Looking For” has been eagerly ushered in by fans and critics alike, hitting the Top 30 rock charts in Canada in no time flat. It’s their first chart-climber in 19 years, and follows late 2019’s “Tell Me What You Want” – their first single release since 1992.

The two tracks lift the curtain, revealing the latest in what’s to come from the band who’ve long made themselves a household name. Early listens show the release has an unmistakably fresh energy to it, while still keeping true to the classic Honeymoon Suite sound fans have loved for nearly four decades.

First formed in 1981, Honeymoon Suite first broke onto the scene thanks to hit single “New Girl Now” taking the cake in a ‘Homegrown’ radio station contest put on by Toronto’s Q107. Founding members Johnnie Dee and Derry Grehan would soon be joined by Gary Lalonde, Dave Betts, and Peter Nunn, and go on to win a JUNO Award for ‘Group of the Year’, countless nominations, and continued International recognition over their near-40 years.

“Sometimes you just know when everything starts lining up, and sounding really good early on,” says Honeymoon Suite. “This new album will be the strongest new music we’ve released in a long time.”

“Find What You’re Looking For” is available now.

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New Livestream Company Creates Value For Musicians And Audiences

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New startup online event company DSTNCE Media presents Livestream concerts to create income for musicians and provide a high-quality experience for fans.

DSTNCE Media, a new online event company, was created in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The company partners with local musicians to present high-quality, seamless Livestream experiences that provide income for artists and a better viewing experience for fans.

The livelihoods of many musicians, creatives, and crew disappeared overnight as a result of province-wide restrictions on large gatherings. Artists flocked to the internet to create impromptu, ad-hoc Livestreams to sustain themselves. The content that resulted
was unique in nature and gave fans intimate access to their favourite artists.

The majority of streams, however, left a lot to be desired. They varied in quality, featured unforeseen technical difficulties, or resulted in poor engagement. With rumours of large in-person gatherings being banned for a year or more, it is clear that technology and online engagement has become more important than ever.

Audiences continue to seek a safe haven in the form of live music but have lost the ability to interact with each other face-to-face. Artists, in turn, need to find a way to connect consistently and professionally beyond the short-term, bringing the experience of a live event to the screens of new audiences.

Made up of a team of professional musicians, production staff, writers, and visual artists, DSTNCE Media Inc. was created to unify artists and audiences in this pursuit.

“Our goal is to remove the challenges that artists have faced in producing their own Livestreams and instead help them present a curated, consistently excellent product,” said Anthony Cenerini, President and CEO. “In doing so, we’re creating revenue for both artists and secondary service professionals in BC’s music industry. Our market research indicated that the number one audience pain point with Livestreams was poor quality and limited interactivity, so by resolving those issues, we’re creating something that viewers want to watch and engage with.”

“We [the founders] lost our music industry jobs as a result of the pandemic and decided we wanted to create something that actually helps artists,” Cenerini continues. “It’s undoubtedly a difficult time to work in music though it’s often a crisis that breeds creativity and opportunities. We want to be part of the solution.”

DSTNCE offers the following incentives to artists seeking to run Livestream concerts:

  • Equal share of net sales from events and the ability to set ticket prices
  • Shared promotion responsibilities to maximize revenue and fan engagement
  • Custom programming opportunities (i.e. on-air interviews, album release parties, VIP viewing rooms, etc.)

DSTNCE: Season 1 is a curated three-month series highlighting BC talent. Livestreams are broadcast in SD or better with the audio mixed in real-time. The audience will be able to interact with artists throughout the performance. Artists will also be able to see and hear the audience on a large monitor in the performance area.

The company will present its first show with local folk-rock band Early Spirit on Saturday, August 15th at 7:00 pm PST. You can purchase your ticket online at dstnce.com/events.

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