I wrote this piece for Christine in late 2011 as a celebration of my wife and as bit of entertainment for her personally. She loved it. She has in my mind done so much for so many people through the years, and the loads of talent she has owned naturally and through training she has either infused into other people's lives or allowed to lie fallow in order to attend to priorities, usually related to family. Through it all she ran a deficit of deserved praise and respect. So here was an anecdotal way of giving her some of that.
Christine has loved singing since she was a small girl. Her mother was a great encourager of song and dance with her children. It’s no wonder that her daughter and sons and grandsons became participants in Gilbert and Sullivan shows. Mrs. May Langlois began early with her daughter, dressing her up, and giving her opportunity to shine vocally and in dance. Christine had a natural talent, a singing voice that was above average. As she grew through her teen years she continued to sing and to develop as a singer. She was good. She held fantasies of making it on stage somewhere, in some fashion. She also firmed up a relationship with God and as a result she felt more inclined to investigate whether she should become a missionary, although that avenue was not at all clear to her. She nevertheless enrolled in a Bible College. Early in this training she was encouraged by a college vocal coach to dedicate herself to vocal training which she did. Her performances during college days were outstanding in operatic, oratorio and spirituals. Then for all the right reasons, falling in love, getting married, having children, accommodating to her husband’s career, she sidelined her vocal aspirations for a long time. Several years into her marriage she began to train again, hoping to accomplish her ARCT certification (Royal Conservatory) and that sadly was scuttled by last minute laryngitis just before her scheduled test. And that was that.
What she found as her husband pastored churches, was ever present need for and opportunity for her gifts and training in music. That involved countless engagements for solo performances and duets within Christian venues, women’s meetings, summer conferences and such. In the early years she and her husband were privileged to join two of their college friends to perform as a mixed quartet. Predictably she was asked to organize weekly music schedules and programs and lead choirs. If she saw a need and wasn’t asked she proposed it and made it happen. All such situations fed to her organizational and leadership strengths.
Years pass and the weekly church duties ended and so did her opportunities to sing and to be in stage. Rarely did an occasion arise when she was invited to sing since that was no longer the ability about which people in her changing life knew her. Yet she still had this inner longing to be on stage where she found great personal satisfaction. She voiced this frequently enough – these unfulfilled dreams that a few folks told her she should do something about it.
So sure enough she did. A nationally televised talent show called TALENT CANADA, comparable to America’s Got Talent, was preparing for a year long series and taking auditions across the country. In this particular show scenario, her age was not a factor. Young and old could try out. In fact selections would be made as the great numbers of contestants were being thinned and the over sixties would be one group that would have at least some representatives as it moved forward to a final 16 contestants. She was singing all the time. She had sound tracks of popular music to which she seldom listens but she learned the songs and sang to the tracks. It was sounding better each week. She went to the Vancouver audition feeling foolish and her family accompanied her. She was nervous before but she figured she had nothing to lose and to her surprise she was give the YES to move forward. Section after section, she continued to sing and dazzle the judges and the crowds. Her family was in awe. They had never heard her sing like this. Her children had always and only heard Christian music from her and her grandchildren had no idea their grandmother could do what she was doing. And what she was doing blew all the saints she had ever known right out of the veritable water.
Each performance night she did a different genre. Judges could hardly believe it. They told her once that she should stick to ballads but after hearing her branch out, they stopped talking. She was doing “I will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, and 'Killing Me Softly with His Love’ by Karen Carpenter, and then “River Deep-Mountain High’ by Tina Turner in a soulish raspy sound that erupted the crowd.
Now the show was becoming serious and her personality rose to the occasion as did her confidence and she had backup singers and a band that rehearsed for days before the show. She was in Toronto in a fine hotel for many weeks, all expenses paid. Her extended family living in and near Toronto were now able to come to the performances to cheer her on. Her brothers were like wild men in the crowd following her songs, whooping and cheering. Best vocal performance of the night she heard on a couple of occasions from a judge. One by one the contestants were sent home but not Christine. Then down to two, Christine and a young 19 year old male with an astounding voice and a promising and predictable future as a superstar of music. Who knows where Christine’s voting base came from. Teens were texting and calling 24/7 and it would be assumed that the 19 year old kid would garner an avalanche of votes. On the final night, the night that the champion would be announced and be the recipient of a recording contract and two million dollars and a new BMW – well you have heard of a tsunami. Christine was swept into ecstasy by a tsunami of votes. She cried. Her family cried. She was on stage and she was ---- singing, singing her winning song. She saved her best for the last night's performance and then sang this as she accepted her win. She sang the rambunctious song entitled ‘Respect’ originally done by Aretha Franklin, and she brought down the house.