Hitting the right note for New Brunswick

Author: DJ Nasty Naz  //  Category: Music, Parties and Nightlife
Music: More than 20 artists to represent province in performances during Winter Games
Mike Landry

While all eyes will be on Canada’s athletes competing for Olympic gold next month, a lot of ears in Vancouver will be treated to the best of New Brunswick music.

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Julie Doiron and Measha Bruegger
New Brunswick musicians who will perform at the Olympics in Vancouver. Clockwise from upper left: Julie Doiron; Measha Brueggergosman; Olympic Symphonium (members, from left, Nick Cobham, Bob Deveau, Kyle Cunjak, Graeme Walker and Dennis Goodwin); Jessica Rhaye; and Matt Andersen.

More than 20 of New Brunswick musicians have been financed by the province’s Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport to perform at Atlantic Canada House and Place de la Francophonie from Feb. 13 to 28.

The selected English and francophone artists span every genre and region. The roster includes Fredericton’s world-renowned soprano Measha Brueggergosman, but no artist is more fitting than her aptly named hometown compatriots, The Olympic Symphonium.

“On the list of things you want to do, it’s one of the ones you wouldn’t even think of putting on the list,” says Symphonium guitarist and vocalist Nick Cobham. “When it comes about that it’s happening it’s pretty exciting.”

The group probably wishes it had seen this possibility coming. They’ve already received a call from the Olympic administration, and may have to change their name because the word Olympic is trademarked.

“A few years ago, we even talked about that and that somewhere in the future it could come back and bite us. We’re not sure what’s going to happen there. I think it’s pretty appropriate that we’re playing there and hopefully they won’t be too mad about our name.”

Name issues aside, Cobham is excited about the opportunity and hopes to see at least one athletic event. Saint John chanteuse Jessica Rhaye is also staying a few days after her showcase to possibly catch an event and take in the atmosphere.

“I don’t have an athletic bone in me. I like to swim, that’s about it,” says Rhaye. “I will be telling people I’m going to the Olympics and they look at me funny, because I don’t look sporty. So, it is an interesting way to be involved with the Olympics.”

The news that they would be playing in Vancouver on behalf of New Brunswick came as an early Christmas present for the selected artists. But they’ve had to keep mum for the past month.

Marc Chouinard was entrusted by the province with choosing the musicians. As general manager of the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, he says he was used to programming and choosing from the wealth of New Brunswick musicians.

“We’re bringing the best image possible for our province to Vancouver,” says Chouinard. “I think we’ve got something original. We’re not just programming two or three artists, we’re putting on a show of what we do best in New Brunswick.”

The showcase will put the province’s Acadian heritage on the world’s stage. Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist group Ode a l’Acadie, considers it a “huge chance.”

“It’s a responsibility we have, but also a privilege, to share that part of who we are with the rest of the world,” says Monique Poirier, an artistic director and member of Ode. “We’ll certainly be choosing songs that best represent the Acadian spirit and culture.”

Country musician and Sussex native Julian Austin, who is now based in Alberta, shares Ode a l’Acadie’s sense of pride in his home province.

“I’m very honoured,” says Austin, “especially during the Olympics. It’s going to be such a proud time for all Canadians, and I’m going to give it 120 per cent.”

For Fredericton’s DJ Nasty Naz, who was born and raised in Trinidad, his selection goes to show what can happen if you work hard.

“I tell people this all the time, when I moved here it forced me to really do what I’m doing right now. I would not have gotten those opportunities in Trinidad,” says Naz “This can be your New York. This can be your L.A. You just have to have that mental ability to drive and succeed.”

Naz couldn’t believe it when he got the phone call at his Fredericton restaurant inviting him to Vancouver.

“I thought they were joking. I was expecting Ashton Kutcher to be on the other line “¦ I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or think it was a hoax.”

Named Atlantic Canada’s Top DJ, Naz has performed with the Black Eyed Peas, Akon and The Pussycat Dolls. He’s also reggae superstar Sean Kingston’s official DJ and will be heading in a week around the world to play the Grammys, Dubai, New Zealand and the NBA all-star game. But even with that international schedule, Naz is most looking forward to the Olympics.

“It definitely obviously makes me excited. I’ve done many shows with different artists -Akon, Sean Kingston, Black Eyed Peas, etc. But to tell my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, I was part of that Olympics in 2010? That’s a big thing.”

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