Haydain Neale tribute: Heart, soul and memory [Article]
Published in The Toronto Star, December 8th 2009
Toronto, ON – His ardent fans have pledged never to stop loving him, but relatives say Jacksoul frontman Haydain Neale, who succumbed to lung cancer last month, would have wanted us to keep loving each other.
Music insiders and longtime listeners filled the Phoenix in his honour Monday night. The concert, headlined by Nelly Furtado, with whom he shared management, also included k-os, Jim Cuddy, Chantal Kreviazuk and Dan Hill.
Billed as “Can’t Stop Loving You: a celebration of the life and music of Haydain Neale,” it was a festive homage to the 39-year-old Hamilton native, who had been away from the stage recovering from a serious 2007 motorcycle accident.
Near the end of the two-hour set, widow Michaela and daughter Yasmin recalled his optimism in the face of challenging rehabilitation. “Love was the guiding force in his daily life,” said Michaela, adding that Neale would have been thrilled to see so many gathered in his name, but would “like us to wake up tomorrow and remember to keep loving each other no matter what life throws at us.”
Backed by Neale’s longtime rhythm section, the performances showcased his inspirational songwriting through renditions of “Can’t Stop” (Divine Brown), “Still Believe in Love” (Luke McMaster) and “Think You Should Know” (Keshia Chante).
One of the highlights was Wade O. Brown’s fevered gospel version of “The River,” which left the crowd cheering.
“He was such an amazing artist,” said Amanda Ciarmela, 22. Medical researcher Megan Greenberg said Neale’s music inspired her.
“If I was going to compare Haydain to anyone, it would be Marvin Gaye,” said Neale’s publisher, Ivan Berry, citing “Still Believe” as his best penned tune. “He was that deep lyrically and so far ahead of the game musically.”
Written by Ashante Infantry for The Toronto Star
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