Canada is so much more than pristine wilderness and wide open spaces. It also has cosmopoitan cities, world-class festivals, a vibrant music scene and great talent. Duane Forrest, singer and songwriter, is one of them.
Duane was born and raised in Toronto, Canada`s cultural capital, has lived in various countries and speaks a few languages (English, Spanish, French, some Italian and a wee bit of German). He has dedicated his life to music and to – LOVE! Listening to his songs (a mix of bossa nova, jazz and soul) will put you in a good mood right away. I have had the opportunity to ask Duane a few questions.
Photo: A perfect match - Duane and the cosmopolitan city of Toronto!
KHL: You've always been involved in music. Have you ever made bad experiences during this time? If so, how do you motivate yourself to keep the passion for music? And what does music mean to you?
DF: Yes. There have been so many hard times. Mostly the feeling of giving up, feeling overwhelmed with all the pieces needed to successfully get your music out there. Mostly when I want to give up, I think about my charity in Central America and how me playing and doing well musically directly effects the charity. And then I dig deep. Music to me is everything. I hear it everywhere, I see it, it’s a language that many people from many corners of the earth understand and come together for.
KHL: Why is love so important for you? Is there a particular person or is it just love in general?DF: Love in general. Though specific people inspire the music at times, it’s love in general that speaks to me. Love feels like the purpose of life. To love each other, our world… to do things that are inspired by love. I want everything I do to be inspired by love and not fear.
KHL: When and why did you create the social project "Genesis Community of the Arts"? Do you get lots of support? Can you see a progress on your projects for disadvantaged young people?
DF: When I was fresh out of high school, I had the idea to start a “for-profit” business called Genesis art school. But something didn’t feel right about making money this way. So I put it down to rest. Many years later I was helping a summer camp program called Urban Promise in Honduras. I noticed that most of the locals had almost no experience with arts education. Arts education is very important to me because it was the arts that helped me stay focused as I grew up in a bad area. It helped me feel motivated and more importantly, dream. So I wanted to give this gift to the youth in Honduras. And so began Genesis. We have already seen so much progress, Young people in our programs are excelling in school. But once again, more importantly, dreaming bigger than what is normal for youth there.
Photo: Duane in Cuba
KHL: You were inspired by a story about an apple tree!? In what way did the encounter with this woman affect you and your music?
DF: *Ha! Yes, the simple story she told me, about how she was an apple in the tree but way up at the top and that I had to climb to be with her - had a huge effect on me. It made me consider how I was interacting within a relationship context. And how many others are. Also what a woman is worth, what I am worth. So I really wanted to make music that speaks to these things.
KHL: Did you ever feel different as a child? You say, "I would listen to Classical FM radio and jazz while all the kids were listening to Hip Hop/ Pop".
DF: Yes I felt totally different than most my peers. I didn’t quite get the urban culture of my school. I paid attention to details in nature etc. It always seemed I was going a different way you know?
KHL: You also can play various instruments and speak different languages – which ones?
DF: I played many many instruments throughout school: Flute, clarinet, tenorsax, French horn, trumpet (I am so bad at it ha) and drums. Drums was my main instrument which can be heard in my guitar playing now. I speak Spanish, a bit of French, Italian a wee wee bit of German and I speak music.
What a cool guy! And what a talent. I am sure he has a great career ahead of him. Hope to see you in Toronto. Good luck, man!
Here you will find more about Duane.
Interested in Toronto? Here are my tips for Canada`s largest world-class city.
Photo: Skyline of Toronto with the CN Tower (553 m) - courtesy of Tourism Toronto