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|Written by Kevin Johns|
|Tuesday, 15 September 2009 00:00|
When Ottawa's Rose Carty organized the first Music for Life Fundraising Concert, she had never before put together a live music event. "I had to learn everything from renting P.A.s, to asking bands what they need, to booking venues," admits Carty, who struck on the idea of a concert while looking for ways to raise funds for the 2007 Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60 km walk.
Carty's mother died of breast cancer at the age of 57, so it is a cause that is close to her heart. "I thought, if music makes people happy, then maybe we can have a night of happiness, when, in so many people's lives, cancer has brought sorrow." The May 4, 2007, concert was a rousing success. "It was a phenomenal feeling," recalls Carty, "and I didn't want it to go away."From that feeling grew Music for Life Fundraising Concerts, an organization hosting charitable live music events to raise funds for cancer research across Canada. "We are such a giving Nation," says Carty, "so let's show it. Let's do something big. I've heard from so many people who ask, what can I do to help?"
The idea spread quickly, with many people eager to get involved. Musicians who performed the first year became instrumental in securing venues the second year, and Carty suddenly found herself surrounded by a group of over 20 volunteers eager to help make the concerts a success. Only a year after the original event, concerts were being held in Montreal, Ottawa, Brockville, and Vancouver - raising over $10,000 for breast cancer research and patient care."We are such a giving nation, so let's show it. Let's do something big!"
Partnerships were developed with cancer foundations or oncology hospitals in each community, thereby ensuring the funds from each concert remained in the city in which they were raised.
As the concert series has grown, so too has their focus. "The guys were laying into me," says Carty with a laugh. "What do you mean it's always for breast cancer? What about prostate cancer?" The organization subsequently decided to tackle two different types of cancer each year, with the 2009 focus being on prostate and colon cancer.This year's concert series kicked-off in Campbellton, New Brunswick, where audience members included pathologists and technicians from the local oncology lab. The line-up of performers included Emilie Bernard, Magic DJ Don, the James Young Band, P3 and Brent, Les Akadiyes, Melissa Girvan, The Vanier Sessions, along with city leader and musician Christian Ouellet. Almost $3,000 was raised for the the Friends of Healthcare Foundation.
Next up is a concert in Ottawa on Thursday September 24 at Tucson's in South Keys, followed by an October 15 concert in Montreal's Firm Club Lounge.
The Ottawa concert, like last year, will be emceed by CTV News anchor Carol Anne Meehan, and will feature performances by Wicked Grin, The Mud Boys, Alain Tambay, Moondogs, Jesse Racicot, Cr4ve, Push, and Nothing - who, with Carty, co-wrote "Give Hope", the Music for Life Fundraising Concerts theme song. Funds will go the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation to support their "Building on Our Strengths" campaign for the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre."You have to shoot big, because cancer is big. It affects every single one of us."
The Montreal concert in October will be emceed by Q92 radio host Larry Day, co-owner of Firm Club Lounge with Tony Nigro, and will feature performances by the Rob Brennan Band, Powerplay, Switchback, Jesse Racicot, the Timeout Band and Number Tree. Funds raised will support the Lakeshore General Hospital Foundation's oncology department.
Last year, almost $5000 was raised in Ottawa alone, but Carty isn't satisfied yet: "Within five years, I'd like to see the concerts across Canada and on cable television. In fifteen to twenty years, I want to see them world wide." It's an optimistic goal, but as Carty notes, "You have to shoot big, because cancer is big. It affects every single one of us."