Jacksoul heads to Britain hoping for Sleepless nights
As a child, Haydain Neale thought all kids wrote music in their heads. “I would get these melodies that I would want to remember,” says Neale, a 30-year-old Hamilton native, and lead singer and songwriter for Jacksoul. “I’d find really strange ways to graft them on paper so maybe in the morning I’d remember enough to recapture it.” It wasn’t until Neale went to the University of Guelph to study biology that he began thinking about music as a career. He quit his studies, formed Jacksoul with four others, and began practising in a refurbished chicken coop in Kitchener, Ont.
Jacksoul flew that coop five years ago, landing in Toronto. Now, Neale and
band members Davide Direnzo, Ron Lopata, Adrian Eccleston and Dave Murray are enjoying national success with the Top 10 single Can’t Stop, off their second album, Sleepless—and the followup single Somedays. Since their unique sound—a mixture of R and B, jazz and synthesized funk—has caught on so well in Canada, they’re now preparing to release Sleepless in Great Britain. And Neale, who lives in Guelph with wife Michaela and 10year-old daughter Yasmin, hints the band may itself move in the same direction. “I wouldn’t mind if Jacksoul was a London band for a year,” he says, citing British artists like Depeche Mode, The Smiths and The Cure as songwriting
influences. But no matter where and when they wander, Neale promises, Jacksoul will return to Canada—and thus put the lie to the old saw that you can’t go home again.
Singing a new tune
A song for a cure. That’s the premise behind singer Jean Stihvell’s latest album, Les chemins de l’amour. A collection of French mélodies and cabaret songs, the disc is a tribute to her mother who passed away in 1988 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is also an attempt by Stilwell, as a spokeswoman for the ALS Society of Canada, to promote awareness of the condition and help raise money towards a cure. “Turning to them made me feel I was turning to my mother, doing something to » honour her,” she says.
Stilwell, who began singing professionally at 18, has always been surrounded by music. Her mother was a singer and her father played the organ and directed a church cho¡r Her husband> a
double bassist, also performs on the disc. But cabaret songs are not the usual fare for the mezzosoprano. Earlier this year, Stilwell, 45, performed in a Vancouver production of Game Misconduct, an opera about hockey. She is currently on stage in Edmonton in the opera version of Hansel and Gretel. “I play the mother and the witch. One wonders if there is a correlation.”
Growing up with Gabrielle
Geneviève Désilets says she was a follower in high school. So when most of her friends auditioned for the Canadian National Theatre School in Montreal, she did too. Of the group, only Désilets was accepted. “But my friends got in to other schools,” she quickly points out. After graduating two years ago,
the 26-year-old Quebec City native is now a regular on Macaroni tout garni, a French-Canadian childrens show. Her first English-language—and starring—role is in Children of My Heart, a television movie based on the memoir of Manitoba writer Gabrielle Roy. The film, which airs on Dec. 3 on The Movie Network, looks at Roy’s experiences as an 18-year-old teacher in rural Manitoba. At the centre of the story is a touching yet ill-fated romance between Roy and one of her students, a rebellious and brooding 15-year-old played passionately by Yani Gellman, another Canadian newcomer. “For Quebecers, Gabrielle Roy is an important literary figure—she is my mom’s favourite author,” says Désilets. “I read Children of My Heart a long time ago, before I knew I would ever be in the movie. It is part of my heritage.”
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