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Youth
 
Capital's Stage Gets Soul
 

David Bowman and Trevor Guthrie of soulDecision
RECORDING artists and stage performers from across Canada swept the National Arts Centre Friday night in a gust of fresh entertainment air for the Capital's Community and a gift of soul to The Stage For AIDS / Les Arts Pour La Vie 5.

Current chart climbers soulDecision and J. Gaines and the Soul Attorneys highlighted the annual flagship fundraiser for The AIDS Committee of Ottawa.  Produced by the NAC's Michael Tabbitt and Majic 100's Kent Newson, the stage event showcased 11 performances in a blend of traditional theatrical and contemporary musical acts.

Ottawa's Miss Gay Pride 1999-2000 Dixie Landers
The brassy sound and powerful voice of Johnny Favourite filled Southam Hall following the show opener of Ottawa's Miss Gay Pride 1999-2000 Dixie Landers perfectly impersonating Bette Midler.  Comic Gavin Crawford's gay routines jolted the audience into laughter and Quartetto Gelato received the greatest applause for their renditions of musical classics.

The hypnotic strength and grace of Acrobazia's Christian Paquette and Jean-Francois Martel drew a standing ovation.  Gasps were heard from the audience as the two men's perfect physiques joined to pierce the air in positions that seemingly broke the laws of physics.

Juno award winner Kim Stockwood performed her chart hit "Jerk" from gold debut CD Bonavista and received applause for dedicating it to "all the ignorant people out there."  Ms. Stockwood sent an message of encouragement in between songs to audience members at the back of the Hall with her story of having sat there herself ten years ago vowing to one day be on that stage.

Many of the musical performers spoke to the audience similarly about AIDS in reinforcing the importance, value and unfinished tasks of prevention and other programs.

Johnny Favourite criticized the still-present attitude of parents "not teaching teenagers how to use the stove knowing full well they're going to cook as soon as you leave."

David Bowman of soulDecision told the audience that the band has been affected by the disease as well.

Honourary Co-Chairs of The Stage For AIDS / Les Arts Pour la Vie 5 Mayor Jim Watson and Regional Councillor Madeleine Meilleur - a former nurse - conveyed personal stories and facts.  AIDS Committee of Ottawa Board Chair Brad Buxton addressed the audience and thanked attendees for their support.

Show Co-Hosts Kevin Nelson, of Ottawa's Majic 100 Morning Show, and Anne Michaud, who is cultural correspondent for Radio-Canada's "Les Matins d'ici," introduced performers in both languages and similarly delivered humourous in-between-act fillers.

J. Gaines and the Soul Attorneys
J. Gaines and the Soul Attorneys opened the second half of the show with their hit "Better Man."  The crisp upbeat sound of that current chart success was followed by the title track from their second CD entitled "Another Day."  The Sony recording artists then closed with the hit "So They Say" from their self-titled 1996 debut gold CD.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal presented their world-famous mix of modern dance, sound, and light.  Martin Dube amazed the audience with his perfect - and comical - impersonations of celebrities.  And Juno nominee Mary Jane Lamond shared the Gaelic sounds of Canada's east coast with everyone there.

The show's final act belonged to Universal recording artists soulDecision.  Their funky pop sound and full stage presence had many audience members up and dancing in their seats.

Gifts of talent and time

All performers donated their time and talent to the fundrasing effort.

"We jumped on [the opportunity] for sure," soulDecision's Trevor Guthrie told gayottawanow.com in an interview before the show.  "The cause is really good for us," continued band co-founder David Bowman.  "For some it's closer to our hearts than others," he added.

soulDecision will be touring Canada this summer with Christina Aguilera.  Ottawa fans can catch them at the Corel Centre July 10th.  Other locations and dates may be found at www.souldecision.com.

"Ottawa's one of our best markets," said Trevor.  "They treat us well."

Performer Johnny Favorite just completed work on a new CD to be released July 4th.  He and his band recently returned from Jamaica after making a new video which comes out June 15th.

"I like stuff like this," said Johnny.  "I don't think kids are educated well enough about this kind of stuff," he declared.

Jacques of J. Gaines and the Soul Attorneys agreed that giving up their time to help fight AIDS is also enjoyable.

"When we do what we do we're so lucky to be doing it, and when you can give back sometimes, it's always a lot of fun," he said.

J. added that he and the Soul Attorneys will be doing the upcoming festival circuit in Quebec and are planning a Canadian tour in the fall.

And Kim Stockwood's been branching out from music to guest-host TV and radio shows!

Said Kim, "I'm just starting to do a whole bunch of things ... some hosting, thinking about some acting ... who knows? ... I like to try everything."

Full evening package

Pre-Show Gala attendees enjoy the hospitality at the residence of the Danish embassador.
But performers weren't the only ones who gave their time to The Stage for AIDS / Les Arts Pour la Vie 5.  Many others were involved, from the small army of nameless and often faceless AIDS Committee of Ottawa volunteers who took on the details and grunt work, to the Ambassador of Denmark and his wife who opened their home to host the pre-show gala.

Over 100 gala ticket purchasers rode double decker tourist buses from the NAC to the Rockliffe Park Village residence of His Excellency Svend Roed Nielsen and Mrs. Anne-Marie Overbye.  A champagne and caviar fare was served as guests enjoyed the formal but thoroughly laid-back time of friendly mingling.

The Ottawa Gay Men's Chorus
The Ambassador's address to his guests included stating that the awareness achieved by the work of AIDS service organizations is one of its most important results, as evidenced by the recent world acknowledgments of the crippling effect on third world countries the disease is having.

Show goers arriving at the NAC - and gala attendees returning - were entertained by the Ottawa Gay Men's Chorus while awaiting curtain call.

The evening was topped off with a reception of coffee and dessert following the show.