I have had a passion for singing and performing since I was very young. I learned how to sing with my grandmother Doris (Dodie) – my dad’s mom, when I was 3 years old. I vividly remember her inviting me to sit beside her on the piano stool and listening/responding so I could learn traditional Irish tunes on the fly.
That inspiration and passion for music has fueled me for my whole life.
I started my career in musical theatre performing in mega-musicals like Les Misérables & Napoleon. After 3 years doing many cool shows, I realized that I wasn’t going to have the grit to be a career actor/singer so I moved into Sales/Marketing and then pursued an entrepreneurial life as a Coach, Facilitator & Keynote Speaker.
Then, in 2006, I was missing music desperately and was curious about song writing. I was connected with a brilliant songwriter, Scotty Dibble, who helped me co-write, produce and (finally) launch my first original album, Zig Zag Bridge in 2010. In 2013 after 3 years of song writing and soul-searching, Danny Greenspoon helped me produce album #2 , Endless Sky. And in 2017, I co-wrote and co-producer original album #3, Scorpio Soul, with David Martin – a constant music companion and mentor since 2006. Music and song writing have taught me a tonne about collaboration, creativity and the human spirit.
My latest music project is Singles ’20 – a series of singles, all co-written with David Martin & mixed by Pat Fockler.
I continue to learn with and from song writing and believe that the best songs we don’t write, they are written through us.
Here is a sampling of some videos, pics and perspectives on music & song writing. Hope you enjoy!
Runaway Train – released December 30, 2021
This is the 2nd train song I have written. The first train song was Slow Black Train, from Zig Zag Bridge in 2010.
There is something about trains that seem to attract me – not sure what it is! Maybe because trains are in my DNA – my great-grandfather RV Turner, was an engineer on the CPR Railway in Manitoba in the early 1900’s?
Maybe trains are just a great metaphor for time, place and reflection?
Runaway train is another co-write with David Martin that we wrote back in early 2018. Most parts were recorded in December 2018 and it took a while to finish.
I always appreciate David’s gift (and patience) of taking a spark of an idea and then deftly crafting and collaborating to shape it into a song that works.
Runaway train, like Slow Black Train, has a blues influence – a rockin’ blues tune that packs a punch. Like most trains, it starts slow, then gains steam and barely stays on the tracks!
David Martin provides the tempo and feel of this tune on rhythm guitar.
It features Pat Fockler on electric guitar – any time Pat has some space for some tasty licks, he always digs in with vigor!
Jesse Nestor provides some ambient lap steel colours and responds to Pat’s solo with a rollicking’ solo of his own near the middle of the song.
It’s ironic that Runaway Train was written before COVID as it’s subject matter, expressing an out of control feeling living in our busy world, is one we can all relate to in 2020-2021
I hope you enjoy Runaway Train. See you down the tracks.
Listen to the Whispers
In the Winter of 2018, I was at a conference in Halifax leading a keynote and hosting a well-being event. Another speaker that I met there was a yogi/mindfulness/musician named Keith MacPherson (https://www.keithmacpherson.ca/) .
We connected over lunch and then I listened to Keith’s inspiring talk in the afternoon. His keynote combined music with meditation and some great, timely messages. In his talk, he suggested that we “listen to the whispers” from inside of us. That line really stuck with me and was swimming around in my head – I couldn’t shake it! Then, when back in Toronto on a walk down into the Brickworks area, a song started to emerge – “listen to the whispers, they will guide you on, forget about the shadows, they will drag you down.
A simple melody started to take shape guided by a simple yet challenging message. Listen to the Whispers is the first song that I wrote almost completely on my own, but honestly feel I didn’t write it, rather it was written through me. I asked my good friend and musical collaborator David Martin to help me finish this – thank you David.
This was written in 2018, recorded in December 2018-Spring 2019, mixed in early 2020 and finally releasing this in December 2020! Thank you also to Pat Fockler for the thoughtful mix and guitar/Wirly parts, to Jesse Nestor for the lap steel & mando parts and for Imogen Wasse for the beautiful background vocals. And of course, for Keith MacPherson’s inspiration for this song. I hope Listen to the Whispers connects with you in a meaningful way.
In Spring 2018, our eldest son Ryan was home for a visit from first year university at Queen’s. We were hanging in the kitchen at our old home at 21 Noel Ave. It was a moment where we just connected and enjoyed each other’s company. An everyday moment that I no longer took for granted because he had moved away to stretch his wings. A little lyric popped into my head – “Its been a while, since I’ve been around…..” Just being in the moment inspired the beginning of a song idea. I then took this idea to David Martin and he created a beautiful acoustic guitar hook that set the tone for this easy listening tune. We collaborated to co-create this song – Just Hang.
Here is a radio interview I did with John Eaton and The Original Spotlight from The Peak FM in October 2020:
Scorpio Soul EP: April 2017
Scorpio Soul has been a labour of love over the past few years. My main collaborator on this EP project has been the amazing David Martin. David is incredibly patient musician, songwriter and producer.. He has written hundreds, probably thousands of songs, so he is has been a terrific mentor & sounding board for Scorpio Soul. This album was written at a time when my wife Nancy and I have been digging into our souls and asking some of the big questions. A beautiful piece of art that came directly from Nancy’s soul is the cover art for Scorpio soul – thank you for your love and inspiration Nance!
Here are some note that shares the inspiration and perspectives on the songs of Scorpio Soul:
The first song on Scorpio Soul, Metamora, we started writing back in 2011. David plucked out a really hooky guitar riff that really caught my ear. For some reason, the riff reminded me of the classic Lightfoot song, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. After hearing the riff, my idea was to write our own shipwreck song. My mind quickly moved to a shipwreck I knew about up near our family cottage in in Pte au Baril, Georgian Bay, Ontario. At the time, I didn’t know the name of the ship, but knew about a book called Into the Blue, written about the shipwreck, by my friend, Andrea Curtis. Andrea and her family also cottaged up at the Pte. So, I called Andrea and suggested the 3 of us write a song about the 1907 Pte Au Baril shipwreck off Turning Island in Pte au Baril, Georgian Bay. Metamora was her name. The first line sets the scene and the beautiful, yet dangerous waters of Pte au baril – “Up in Pte au Baril, on rocky Georgian Bay, racing ‘gainst the freeze up, on that cold November day….
To the sea
In June 2014, I went to the beautiful area of southern France to lead a global leadership conference for a client Neopost. It was a first class event, and a first class organization. I have had the priviedge of working on many projects with Neopost over the past 3 years. The first night I was at this spectacular hotel, about 5 miles from the Mediterranean, I had a challenging night of sleep. One of the joys of travel! I woke up at about 3am, pulled back the blinds and there was an incredible early morning light cast by the moon. A little melody popped into my head and the beginnings of some lyrics – “Woke up, pulled back the blinds, looked at the early dawn, jet lagged, 3,000 miles away, from home….”
This is the title track of the EP and has a special place in my heart. Songs are like kids, so I try to not play favourites, but this is one of my favourites! The inspiration of this song is my wife Nancy. She is a Scorpio and I have tried to capture the beautiful essence of her soul – curious, steadfast and beautiful. The song takes place in the Fall – the birth time of Scorpio’s, my favourite time of the year, and about my favourite girl, Nancy Leishman.
Just look it in the eye
I have gone through lots of change since turning 40 in particular. They call it a mid-life crisis for a reason! I sold, exited the business, Fusion Learning that I founded in 2000. I had a major health scare in 2011 when I developed achalasia (look it up if you are curious – very rare auto-immune disorder). So this song comes from a place of looking at challenges in the eye. The focus of moving meaningfully through change is also at the heart of our new business, 1-degree (www.1-degree.ca). So this is a song about change, growth, facing barriers with courage and trying to face it all with some grace…
3 miles below (aka – Copper & gold)
This song came about in a similar way as Metamora did. David was playing a cool guitar riff when we were “fishing for ideas” in his basement studio, in November 2015. It has a bluesy, gritty and miner type sound. When I heard it, I thought, “man, that sounds like a miners song.” Then, just after I expressed that, I remembered seeing an ad somewhere for this movie, “33 men,” basedon a true story of a 2010 a Chilean mining disaster where ALL 33 men survived. So David’s guitar riff was quickly married with a song concept. We drafted up the first verse of the song and the chorus in our first session together. Its called 3 miles below, because that’s where the Chilean mine in San Jose was – “69 days, 3 miles below…33 men, 33 lost souls. Down there digging for copper and gold…”
I was having a conversation with one of my 1-degree partners, Lorella DePieri in early 2016. She was asking me if I could write a birthday song for her new boyfriend, Gus – a fire chief. I said to her that I could help her write it, but she needed to contribute! She was a little timid about her songwriting prowess, and said she didn’t know how. So, I suggested that she write down some ideas, some feelings about her new love interest. She was a little nervious about sharing with me some of the ideas, but when she came up with some ideas like, “humble hero” and “it’s nearly sun down, it won’t be long now…“ and just dying to see you” – Lorella, the songwriter was in flight! David and I recorded an early acoustic demo for Gus for his birthday and later decided we loved the song and would record a rockier version for the EP.