Thanks for stopping by this page to get to know me a little better.
Bios are always a funny and kind of awkward thing so I thought I’d take a different approach. For those of you that want the goods short and sweet, you can read my professional bio here.
For those of you that want to get a little more up close and personal, keep reading.
People often ask me how music came into my life, about my creative and spiritual journey and what the road to here has been like. Well…it’s a bit of long story but it’s a good one and since we’re getting to know each other, this is the best place to start.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM:
Beautiful Days, Basketball Blues And Bad Words
My family always tells me I was a very happy child. I got lots of love growing up and apparently, I even used to go to the window on the cloudiest and rainiest days and say “What a beautiful day!”.
What a weirdo!…lol. Apparently, I outgrew that phase because these days, very few things make me happier than sunshine and one of my wishes in life is to live in perpetual summer…except for maybe a white Christmas here and there;)
Despite all that goodness, I definitely experienced my share of the common challenges of wanting to fit in and not belonging as a young teen. I went from being a boisterous and spunky little monkey to dealing with the awkwardness of being a late bloomer and the shortest kid in my class. I got cut from the basketball team the first time I tried out, my first big crush chose my best friend over me and I was always teased for being a “goodie two shoes” who resisted the use of swear words. For better or for worse, I outgrew that one too 😉
Choices, Creative Buzzkills And Canadia
I was a very analytical youngster and a very sensitive soul. My dad always says “Life is choices” and I definitely had a knack for seeking out situations that challenged me and that made me stand out, although I didn’t like being told I was different. Interesting combo eh? (Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know, I was born in Toronto and I am a proud Canadian.)
I also had an innate passion for art and creativity from early on but unfortunately, my first art teacher and my first piano teacher were both what I have come to call creative buzzkills.
Creative buzzkill = someone who discourages, diminishes or harshly criticizes another’s creative expression and who essentially takes the joy out of making art.
In light of these not-so-empowering first attempts at art and music, I chose to try my hand at drama instead and fell in love.
All of those experiences laid the foundation for much of the learning and discovering that happened since and I have to say, I had a pretty amazing childhood and adolescence. And I eventually became the captain and MVP of the basketball team (take that MJ!) and played the lead in my high school’s production of “Our Town”. Shazaaam!
The Path of Least Resistance
As a teenager I was always told that I had the gift of the gab and that I would make a great lawyer. My parents are both health professionals who love what they do and though it wasn’t explicit, the career options I was presented as the end of high school approached were essentially: doctor, dentist or lawyer. My older brother who was a dauntingly intelligent and hard working student chose to go to med school, so to avoid any chance of comparison, I decided to go the other way and chose what I thought was the rebellious route of going for law.
A SERIES OF MIRACLES:
The Fiery Trial That Ignited My Creativity
I was in third year university and everything was going according to “plan”. I had just written the LSAT, I was preparing law school applications and was cruising along when everything changed.
I had just bought my first guitar, along with a few friends so we could learn our favourite Tragically Hip songs and play them around the campfire. As I delved into the initially awkward world of learning an instrument and using my voice for the first time at the age of 21, I found myself struggling to make progress. To my frustration, I seemed to be the only one who wasn’t getting any better at it by comparison to my friends. Even though I’d had no real experience playing music (except for those oh-so painful piano lessons) it didn’t make sense to me. Until I found out what was really going on…
I was losing my hearing.
I was in total shock when I first got the diagnosis from an E.N.T specialist who told me I had a loud-noise induced hearing loss. I might have liked listening to music with speakers cranked and might have danced my ass off in front of a sub-woofer or two but to actually have damaged my hearing from it, didn’t’ quite line up so I decided to get a second opinion.
Enter Dr. Miracle Maker. This guy might as well have been a medical rock star and the fact that he loves Zeppelin and The Stones still gets me pumped whenever I go in for a check-up. Dr. MM took one look and instantly recognized what was really going on with my ears. I had a hereditary condition that caused gradual hearing loss and unfortunately in my case, the onset was early and rapid.
I was always an overachiever 😉
The good news was that the condition could be corrected with surgery and my hearing would be restored to nearly normal levels. There was only one small catch: the surgery involved a small risk of total loss of hearing in the ear being operated on…. Deep breath…Dr. MM was confident and he encouraged me to go ahead with the procedure. I had faith that it was the way to go and so despite being terrified, I went in for surgery one and then six months later, surgery two.
Fast-forward to the day I’ll never forget, the one when I knew things would never be the same. I’d just had surgery on my second ear. The first procedure happened a few months prior and as the healing process unfolded, my hearing began slowly climbing back up.
I can still perfectly remember leaving my doc’s office after my post-op appointment and getting into my car. I sat there for a moment and looked into the rear view, taking note of the moment and everything that had happened up to that point. Bursting at the seams with anticipation, I finally reached for the radio. For the first time since the beginning of this intense and terrifying ordeal, I could really HEAR the music, and I could FEEL it. I sat in awe, tears rolling down my cheeks as the music made its way to my eardrums, my heart and my soul for what felt like the first time. I thanked God and listened with a heart full of gratitude for the miracle of my restored hearing, humbled by the second chance I’d been given.
Ben Harper, The Power of Now & My First Band
In the months that followed, I lived in wonderment enjoying the miracle of hearing the way a newborn baby explores its five senses. My creative fire was fiercely ignited. As I followed my new found bliss and allowed my passion for music to lead me, one synchronicity after another unfolded to support me along my creative path.
My cousin and childhood partner in crime who had been playing music for a few years taught me some tricks and introduced me to the music of Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. I was instantly hooked and I stayed up til all hours of the night learning to sing and play my first songs. Before long, my family members began leaving the door open when I played music and would soon come to remark in amazement: “You sound good!”
That summer I went on my first ever European backpacking adventure and my creative fire was stoked even further. On day one of the trip, I bought a cheap Spanish guitar in Barcelona and collected a sticker for each stop of my two-month trek. My first attempts at original creation happened on that trip jamming and sharing music with other travelers on beaches and in piazzas in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. I still have the guitar and love adding a new memory to it whenever the chance arises.
Gaining confidence in my musicality and my creative fire burning strong, I returned home and reconnected with my cousin to find that we had both spent the summer months delving deep into much of the same music including the songs of one Bob Marley. Without a second thought, we began meeting daily to play music, write songs and start our first band called I.An.Eye. You can check out our music HERE.
Around the same time, I met my very first spiritual teacher. An osteopath by trade, I was sent to see him to take care of a nagging neck injury that took place on my European expedition. During our first session, he began by instilling in me the idea that there was nothing “wrong” with me or that needed “fixing”, physically or otherwise, and began to teach me about the importance of breath. We would meet regularly and during the often, painful physical treatments, he would always engage my intellect and stimulate my mind with powerful questions about human nature, existence, religion and spirituality. He shared much wisdom with me and introduced me to the teachings of many, including Ram Dass. Charles Tart and most significantly, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power Of Now.
The principles and teachings offered in The Power of Now resonated with me deeply and delivered the final blows to my unexamined existence. I began meditating regularly, dabbling still somewhat reluctantly in yoga and having my first experiences with spirituality. For the first time in my life, I began to have some understanding of the experiential side of the religious teachings I had been raised with and the impact was profound.
My perspectives on life and the path I had been walking began to shift and I came to realize that my spiritual and creative paths were one and the same, and that the auspicious arrival of music in my life in such grand fashion was no coincidence.
FROM THERE TO HERE:
The Leap of Faith, A New Beginning And Livin’ This Rollercoaster Dream
I continued with law school by day while nurturing my obsession with music by night, recording my first full-length album during the same summer that I began interning at a big Toronto law firm. You could say that my body stayed on the path I had been walking a little longer, but as my heart and soul began tuning more deeply into my higher calling, the fork in the road became inevitable.
And so after four years of university, three years of laws school, two BAR exams, one year working at the aforementioned big Toronto law firm and a highly coveted job offer in tow, it was time to make a choice. With my degree in my back pocket and the chorus of naysayers quieting enough for me to hear my own destiny beckoning, I kindly declined the big job offer and took a leap of faith to follow my heart.
My band, I.An.Eye had just put the finishing touches on our album and we were about to sign our first deal with a record label in the UK and it felt like the right time to go all in. My family, despite voicing their concerns and hesitation, supported my choice and have been in my corner ever since.
I wish I could tell you that the story ends there and that we all lived happily ever after but that’s not quite how it went.
The record deal fell through, the band didn’t survive and once again, I was left to answer the question: what’s next?
With all the challenges, triumphs and Grace that had led to that moment, I knew it was nowhere near time to give up or change my course. My fire for music and my belief in what I wanted to create was stronger than ever and with the support and encouragement of a few trusted believing mirrors, I chose to keep on going and start fresh.
Since then, I have been on an epic roller coaster ride that keeps on giving. I got to record and release my first ever solo album, Glory Fire, and then followed it up with an EP, Into The Light. Both recording experiences were special, and allowed me the opportunity to work with world class musicians, many of whom are some of my dearest friends and most inspiring creative allies. I’ve also had the privilege of traveling the world and playing music on three continents, including the amazing land down under, which has become like a second home to me. I’ve shared stages, brushed shoulders and had heart to hearts with some of my greatest heroes and biggest influences.
In the past couple of years, I somewhat unintentionally discovered my abilities as a writer and have had the privilege to share my writing with more people that I could have ever dreamed of reaching thanks to two incredible platforms, The Daily Love and Positively Positive, that publish my work. A book is in the pipelines but let’s not speak too much of that just yet in case the pressure scares my inner author into hiding 😉 I’ve also been blessed to be able to work one on one with some absolutely amazing and inspiring people as a mentor with TDL. More recently, this has evolved into facilitating workshops in group settings in collaboration with some of my fav teachers and friends, on creativity, self-expression and using your voice.
Most of all, I’m living a life I love that on most days excites me to the point that I can barely get to sleep at night and I can’t wait to get up in the morning. There’s no question that I’m a dreamer with a grand vision for my life and my work. But as much as I love to imagine all the possibilities, I make it a regular habit of reminding myself that this is it, right here. I’ve already arrived on the path that I’m meant to be on and I’m already living the dream, one step at a time.
It’s crazy to think about how I got to here, and I’m so grateful for this beautiful dream of a life I’m experiencing that looks nothing like I could have ever imagined.
I’m also grateful for you. At every step of the way, I have received so much love, support and enCOURAGEment from friends, family, fans, fellow travelers, artists and others walking their own path but sharing in the journey I have been lifted up by so many amazing and generous souls, without which I would not have had the ability to keep going.
That includes you. So thank you for being here, for spending this time with me, and for listening.