Written by Louise Gallagher.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.
Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle must have been prescient when he wrote that statement sometime in the 1700s. He must have known what would happen last night at the Stand by the DI concert when client musicians stood on stage and sang and played their hearts out. He must have known the glow on their faces and pride in their step would keep them awake throughout the night reliving their moment when they shone brighter than the 1,000 watt spotlights beaming down on them.

It was a night to shine. A night to feel proud. A night to remember.

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Over 500 people gathered in the beautiful space of Knox United Church to celebrate the excellence of the performers who gave so graciously and generously to this project. They sang and played and enchanted the audience with talent that, as one audience member said, “blew me away. It is absolutely incredible to think that there is such wicked talent in this city and what a treasure to be able to experience it all in one night.”

Such wicked talent all in one night.

From set-up to tear down, there was not a moment of the evening not worth re-living. Every thing seemed effortless. So smooth. So sincere.

And then, at 9pm Mr. Ben E. King walked on stage to join the musicians who had recorded our cover of his iconic treasure, Stand by Me. Microphone in hand, he walked into their midst, his bluesy voice joined with theirs as magic descended.

It was sublime.

Over fifteen performers on stage. Professionals and client musicians standing together with a legend of R&B. Standing together to honour a song that has touched millions of people around the world and a man who has left a lasting imprint on our hearts. Standing side by side in support of those who give so much to so many, day in, day out, with grace and ease here at the DI.

As one, the audience stood and clapped and screamed and cheered as smiles lit up the faces of the performers as the realization of the import of the moment sank into their souls and lifted their spirits. Voices soared high into the lofty rafters arching above and pride and joy abounded throughout the church. Its magnificent stained glass windows glowed with the rays of the late evening sun and the entire sanctuary glowed with the awe that befell everyone who had the privilege of being part of the moment.

It was a night that inspired each and everyone of us to stand tall and stand together. Together we are strong.

Last night, every heart found its home in the beauty and spirit that permeated the evening and left us sated. Last night, every heart was safe as dreams awakened and spirits were set free to become all that we are meant to be.

Thank you to the volunteers, staff and clients who came out to lend a hand setting up and tearing down, lugging equipment, moving speakers and microphones.

Thank you to Lewis Levin who played such a vital role in creating the event and our cover of Stand by Me.

Thank you:

Lanny Williamson, Steve Dodd, Tracey Conn, Natalie Gregory and all the team at the Beach Advanced Audio Advantage.

Linda Nash in organizing Mr. King’s appearance at the concert and to Mr. Ben E. King for his gracious sharing of his gifts.

Doug McKeag for stepping in to MC the concert when Beesley was delayed due to flight rescheduling. Your humour, grace and flexibility — not to mention your ability to play host and move microphones while never letting dead air fill the room — was a gift we all enjoyed!

And thank you to the performers at the concert:

  • Toby Mathis
  • Bloody Town Project
  • Cort Delano
  • Amy Thiessen
  • Kronic Groove Band
  • Greg Cockerill
  • Sam Masterton
  • Amy Bishop
  • Makesshift Innocence
  • The DI Band
  • Onalea Gilbertson and the DI Singers

And to those who came by the studio to lend a hand in recording Stand by Me or dropped by the DI to take part in the filming or to make last night so special:

  • Kyle Savage
  • Barry Reicker
  • Bambalamb
  • Johnathon Love
  • Mike Malkin
  • Hoyee Wong
  • Adrian Montes
  • Nick May
  • Terry Donovan
  • Crystal Palmer
  • Tracey Conn
  • Sheri-D Wilson
  • Steve Dodd
  • Josh Whitley
  • Murdoch MacLeod
  • Tim Gorman
  • John Harris
  • Brenan Poliuan
  • William Dutton
  • Paul Du Toit Schreve
  • Derek S.
  • Megan Gerbrandt
  • Liseanne McDonald
  • Jorge Campusano
  • Chris Prefontaine
  • Larry Levin
  • Rudy Raduloff
  • And all the staff who came out to lend a hand and stand with us

The evening would not have unfolded so effortlessly without the amazing work of Donnell Blonjeaux-Willis, Jessica MacDonald, Jessica Andrews and Owen Day who was greatly assisted by Don Kletke. Thank you.

And thank you to those who supported us through donations of product, time and energy:

  • Long & McQuade
  • The NEW 97.7
  • Mike Shields and Jet Music Inc.
  • Air Canada
  • Delta Bow Valley Downtown
  • Knox United Church
  • Mother Mary Greene School

And to all the media who helped us get the word out about this project and the concert, in particular:

  • CJAY 92
  • XL 103
  • CBC Radtio & TV
  • Global Television
  • City TV
  • CTV

And thank you everyone who came out and stood with us. We are stronger with you standing with us.