It seems 2007 was a blur of activity for me — not necessarily in the music area — but busy enough that I didn’t have the chance to do needed phoning and booking of gigs for my jazz trio or ChoirGirlz. I was doing what a lot of people of our age-bracket are doing — moving my parents out of their home of 60 years, and into retirement care. It was quite the journey, going through dusty memorabilia dating back years and years. Good Will became my new best friend, and I became the Queen of Schlepping for a number of months. Thanks to an expert in the field of Elder care, Ms. Pat Irwin, with whom I sing in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the move itself was smoothly implimented. Visit her website at www.eldercarecanada.ca to find out more helpful information. I wrote and recorded a song about the experience which you can click on. It’s entitled Moving Day.
Earth Hour Lights Out at Trane Studio
SATURDAY MARCH 29TH, 2008
964 Bathurst St. (just south of Dupont, West side)
Shows: 8 pm and 9:45
Excellent food! Reservations recommended
Hosted by ChoirGirlz, and featuring Crabtree-Mills, Rosemary Phelan and Peter Verity.
Saturday March 29th was designated as Earth Hour throughout the world, and in order to do our very small part to conserve the rapidly depleting energy sources of our planet, we were all asked to simply turn off our lights between 8 and 9 pm on March 29th. On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.
At Trane Studio, I assembled a stellar group of singer-songwriters to provide entertainment for this concert, where we all performed acoustically, with no PA, while our audience dined on great food, to the soft light of candles. It was like a campfire — we were lit with battery operated lanterns, and we invited the SRO audience to sing along with our Earth Hour song.
Interesting how quiet an audience is when they’re not bombarded with the amped up sounds blasting from the stage.
Listen to our version of The Earth Hour Song– written to teach people how to conserve the energy we use (on our CD “Livin’ It)
September 2007 – In Memory of a wonderful man, and musical genius – by Debbie Fleming
Doug Riley, ueber-talented keyboardist from Toronto, passed on suddenly Aug.27, 2007 at the age of 62. He set the bar so high! Excelling in R&B, jazz, classical, blues — playing Hammond B3 and piano — it will be very difficult for anyone to come close to his genius. My association with Doug was a long one, having recorded hundreds of commercial jingles and recording sessions under his guidance. I like to say that owning my house is thanks to Doug Riley (and Trudel Productions, for whom Doug plied his talents). The hole that is left in all our hearts and souls, now that Doug is gone, is huge, and we are all grieving, and missing him so.
Two days after Doug died, while carrying him around in my heart and soul every waking minute, the chorus of a song came to me. By the end of the day, I had written a song for Doug, called “Song For the Doctor”. I sang it for some of my friends, and we all agreed we had to record it in Doug’s memory. The response was nothing short of mind-boggling.
The recording of the song took place on September 23rd at Phase One Studios. With everyone, including the studio, donating their time, and Lou Pomanti at the helm as MD, we had 43 singers, 12 musicians and a very helpful number of people looking after catering, photography, video, and making sure everyone was taken care of. By the end of an 11 hour day, we had it all in the can. Gary Gray mixed it, Charlie Gray mastered it and Accudub manufactured it.
We were so privileged that singers such as Jackie Richardson, Dione Taylor, Sharon Lee Williams, Shawne Jackson, Colina Phillips, Cal Dodd, Wayne St. John, Roy Kenner, George Olliver, John Finley, Molly Johnson, Danny B were there to add their voices to the rest of the choir. All singers had worked with Doug over the years either in the studio, or on live gigs. It was an amazing feeling among all of us, both vocally and spiritually, and that translated to the recording, which was sold at the Memorial Concert in November. The artwork was beautifully designed by Juno award winner, Michael Wrycraft — an 8 panel tribute in words and photos to Doug Riley.
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 18th, 2007
4.pm A CELEBRATION CONCERT IN HONOUR OF DOUG RILEY
(A musical benefit for the Doug Riley Scholarship Fund in association with the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto)
CONVOCATION HALL, 31 Kings College Circle
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
Soloists: David Clayton-Thomas, Cal Dodd, Dione Taylor, Courtney Farquhar, Danny B. & Michael Burgess
Featuring voices of: Sharon Lee Williams, Shawne Jackson, Colina Phillips, Brenda Russell, Jackie Richardson, Betty Richardson, Kim Richardson, Sheree Jeacocke, Debbie Fleming, Lynne Deragon, Neil Donell, Roy Kenner, Wayne St. John, Steve Kennedy and a choir of close to 40 handpicked singers, all of whom are singing on the recording “Song For the Doctor” You will see Debbie’s Song For The Doctor around 4’17”.
The concert featured a Classical Section, Famous People Players, A Jazz Segment, featuring Don Thompson, Phil Dwyer, Guido Basso, Mike Murley, Ted Quinlan and many others. A Doctor Music Section, A Motherlode section, A Gospel section, An R & B section with Bernie LaBarge, David Clayton-Thomas and his band with Bruce Cassidy and Lou Pomanti, Planet Earth With Ben Riley . Jesse Riley provided a spectacular Police Honour Guard during the Concert.
During this concert, Song For The Doctor was performed as the grand finale to the show, with the full monte of singers and horns, as it was recorded. The CD single of the song was sold during intermission and after the show. All proceeds for the sale of this song go towards The Doug Riley Scholarship Fund through the U of T Faculty of Music. Song For the Doctor may be purchased through our shopping cart .
On May 15, 2008, I was privileged to have been invited to sing as a guest artist at the Third Annual Tribute to Domenic Troiano – a fundraiser for the Toronto East General Hospital, taking place at the glorious on Toronto’s Lakeshore. The night was a perfect spring night – the moon on Lake Ontario was breathtaking, and reconnecting with friends from the music business was such a pleasure. The Lincolns, led by Prakash John and fronted by Steven Ambrose, provided a dance set for the audience, and the dancefloor was crowded to the max. What a band!
Last year at the same function, I saw and chatted with Doug Riley for what was to be the last time, so there was a little bitter-sweet involved. I decided to sing “This Little Light of Mine” to honour the bright light always shining from Domenic Troiano and other great musicians such as Doug Riley, Oscar Peterson and Jeff Healey when they were still with us. In the band, led by guitarist-extraordinaire Bernie LaBarge, were Grant Slater on keys, Rob Gusevs on Hammond B3, Paul Delong on drums and Howard Ayee on bass. Backing me up in the vocal department were Sharon Lee Williams, Shawne Jackson, Colina Phillips, Lynne Deragon and my dear friend B. J. Cook. You can check out my performance on YouTube
DATE: Feb. 17, 2008
ADDRESS: 292 Brunswick Ave., (south off Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina)
in the beautiful city of Toronto Canada
Murphy’s Law: With ten entrants in this “mawkish” song contest, that has gone on for at least 10 years, under the auspices of the Flying Cloud Folk Club, I performed my song “Summer in the City”. It was a ditty I wrote out of frustration with the renovations surrounding me a few years back. My philosophy has always been “Make Lemonade” (another of my songs!), and instead of allowing myself to go quite mad with the barrage of noise, dirt and disorder surrounding me daily, I wrote my song. Since I was told this “Sentimental Song Contest” was supposed to be with a wry and mawkish undercurrent, I figured I’d perform this “cathart” tune – without the help of my ChoirGirlz, as both were busy that night. I didn’t care if I won the prize — I am a beer and wine girl, NOT scotch (which was to be the prize, along with a box of Kleenex — very symbolic). Being a “Sentimental Songs Virgin” — I knew not what to expect, and just wanted to be there to enjoy the songs that other people brought to the table. I sang my song. I heard some really fun ones — David Newland played his uke, and sang about crying in the rain. I heard a song about unrequited love between a lobster and a crab, and about yearning for Charlotte (which I figured would win). Stewart sang an old song about a dog “Old Shep” — I remember Elvis singing this years ago. When the winner was announced, I was totally aghast that my song “Summer in the City” was the winner of the night. I think when you go into something not even THINKING of winning, and not really knowing what you’re doing — the chances of winning are quite high. (Like the time I first joined the Musician’s Curling League in the ’80’s, and we all shot a rock for the chance to win a turkey — because I had NO experience or technique in curling, and not a hope in H*%^llof winning — I shot one of the closest rocks in the competition, and walked home with a turkey for our Christmas dinner that year. The next year – when I knew a bit more about what I was doing — NOT EVEN CLOSE. ) I guess you win when you’re relaxed and have no expectations. Now I have this GOOD bottle of scotch. Hmmm.