Help was mere inches away. But it felt like it was halfway around the world.

I live periodically with mental illness. When it arrives, often without announcing itself, I feel depressed and all alone. Insomnia also surfaces.

One such night was a little over a year ago when I went through several sleepless nights. I watched every minute turn into the next one. And as each new green-lit number passed, I felt more anxiety, knowing time was quickly passing before I had to get up, mask my downtrodden mood and extreme exhaustion, and try to stumble through another day, and complete all the obligations I am committed to.

I now know something I could have done to help myself, thanks to an incredible show called Crescendo. It jumped off the Winspear Centre stage last year, leaving a lasting impression for the crowd of 1,600 who heard powerful music and even more powerful stories from orchestra and choir members who shared their own struggles with mental health.

It was spine tingling. A lone spotlight shone on each speaker, every one of them concluding their story with news that they were — and, good for them — getting help.

Ask any performer, and the will tell you, absolutely: it’s a daunting challenge to put on another show that is just a little better and a little different the inaugural show.

But John Cameron and his amazing team are up for the challenge. And, more importantly, to make a change.

Cameron, who runs Keller Construction as a day job, slides onto a piano bench in the evening and makes wonderful music.

For Cameron, it is, indeed, therapeutic. Because he has struggled with mental health issues and depression for decades.

“But the piano has always helped me,” a sockless Cameron said during a rehearsal date earlier this week. “I started playing, and somehow, it helped get all of the stuff sorted out in my head.”

He also got medical help. But he knows not everyone has that chance.

 Crescendo is making its second concert this Friday night. Cameron and his grand piano, a 60-piece orchestra methodically directed by Manny Fonte, and a few special guests will provide another thought-provoking show, with a few moments where you will say, “Wow, am I ever thankful I am here.”

Funds raised from the show will go towards accessibility and affordability of mental health services.

I’ll be there.

I’ll be reminded of one of my favourite things is a constant companion — music — that is only a switch of a radio or CD player or the tap of the phone away. I will be reminded of how music has been there for me when I’ve been on top of the world and will rock to a few of my favourite tunes in celebration.

I need to challenge myself to make the effort, in the blackness of the night when I feel lost and confused and scared.

I just have to roll over and turn on a device. Because that was the subtle message Crescendo left last year as the final song played from 1972.

The Doobie Brothers





A FEW HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2017 CRESCENDO – please click below



THE CRESCENDO FACTS – plrase  click the box


…from Rob Hislop Photography




Written by 

Follower of Christ, husband, father, grandfather, Edmonton Sun columnist, Oiler Entertainment Group writer, co-author of Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic, speaker, comedian, Challenge Insurance special projects advisor, former Edmonton Journal columnist, vice-cjair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and closet Beverly Hillbillies mega fan and (very small) closet disco singer.

1 thought on “Music: the universal medicine – Edmonton Sun, April 29, by Cam Tait

  1. I know about the healing power of music. I also know John Cameron and had the pleasure of making music with him at the Red Piano in 2008-09. Cam, your exceptional literary talent really shone in this piece. Good on ya pal. Your words are inspiring. Privilege to know you.

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