Canadian tenor Ben Heppner usually sings in the world’s most elegant opera houses. But last week, the international opera star shook the rafters in a drafty country barn. Heppner was one of more than two dozen of Canada’s best writers and artists who performed at CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski’s seventh annual

fund-raising concert for literacy, held at the Red Barn Theatre, near Sutton, Ont. The celebrity-studded audience of more than 300 responded with boisterous enthusiasm to songs, readings and comedy by the likes of Rick Mercer of CBC TV’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, actor Brent Carver, and Road to Avonlea star Sarah Polley. Heppner’s powerful voice drew two standing ovations and a shower of bouquets. At the conclusion, the genial star led his audience—clearly as moved as he was—in O Canada. “Nothing can make me more proud than to sing the anthem,” stated the British Columbia-born Heppner. “I’m so patriotic about Canada—I’m almost American.”

Silken's sweet Golden Will

With the Summer Olympics in Atlanta opening in a month, Canada’s rowers are in the spotlight. At a recent pre-Games regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, the scullers flexed their Olympic credentials by winning three gold medals, two silver and a bronze. Marnie McBean of Toronto and Kathleen Heddle of Vancouver de-

feated a Dutch pair for the double-sculls title; Wendy Wiebe of St. Catharines, Ont., and Colleen Miller of Matlock, Man., defeated the United States in lightweight double sculls; and Derek Porter of Victoria outdistanced Thomas Lange of Germany in the single-sculls final. As well, the Canadian women’s and men’s eights both won silver, while the lightweight men’s fours took bronze. Those performances sparked hopes that the 1996 Canadian team can match—or even exceed—its five-medal haul from the 1992 Games in Barcelona. ‘We just have to keep the momentum going for another few weeks,” says AÍ Morrow, a coach on the team. “But we are feeling pretty good about how things are progressing.” The only Canadian rower not at Lucerne was single sculler Silken Laumann. Having won the gold medal at the Wadau Regatta in Duisberg, Germany, in mid-May, Laumann opted to skip the Swiss event to spend time visiting family in Mississauga, Ont., and fulfil some obligations to sponsors before resuming training in San Diego. But Laumann did not entirely escape attention last week. At a media preview, producers unveiled Golden Will—The Silken Laumann Story, a saccharine-sweet, two-hour special due to air on CTV on June 26 that, among other things, recounts how Laumann recovered from a horrific accident in time to compete at the 1992 Olympics.

Singers missing in action

It was a moment of glory for country trio Farmer’s Daughter— and they missed it.

Last week, the threewoman band swept the British Columbia Country Music Awards, winning all six of their

nominated categories, including group of the year and entertainers of the year. But the singers—Angela Kelman, Jake Leiske and ShaunaRae Samograd—could not attend the award ceremony in New West-

minster because of a longstanding performing engagement in Edmonton. “It’s a case of planes, trains and automobiles,” said Leiske. “It seems we’re always heading out of town these days.” Since their

1994 debut album, Girls Will Be Girls, Farmer’s Daughter has had a string of hit singles, including Son of a Preacher Man and the award-winning ballad Borderline Angel. But the White Rock, B.C.-based vocalists—now at work on their second album—have no intention of losing touch with their fans. “We

put a lot of energy and commitment into our live show," Leiske notes. That, she explains, is why they are especially thrilled to win as entertainers of the year. “After all,” she adds, “it's our fans who put us here.”