By: Jill Tham
As Niagara continues to grow as a community that is rich in arts and culture, more young artists from the area are being given the opportunity to shine, be it through music, art or theatre. The two musicians profiled on the upcoming pages are prime examples of local talents who are well on their way to making it big in the music industry, and if you are lucky, you might be able to catch either of them for a live show during your visit to Niagara.
Niagara’s Eclectic Performer: Elton Lammie
Do you remember the last great musical performance you saw? The show that held your attention until the very end? Taking your daughter to the One Direction concert doesn’t count!
Award winning musician and performer, Elton Lammie, certainly fits into an exceptional category all of his own. His concerts are highly original as he performs four different types of music in one show including: rock, country, Broadway, and opera. Regardless of the genre of music he is performing, the depth of Elton’s immeasurable talent will captivate you. From songs “You Got It” by Roy Orbison, to “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, you will be overcome by the power, range, and versatility of Elton’s voice.
Although Elton’s mother sang and played guitar in a country western band, she did not pressure Elton into pursuing a career in music. “My parents wanted me and my brother in sports more than music,” Elton recalls. However, the music bug didn’t escape him, and at the age of 14 Elton and his brother started a rock and roll band. Elton was the drummer and his brother was the lead singer. “We performed for hundreds of people in a sold out arena for the town festival. It was a big deal for me,” recalls Elton.
“Vince Gill was probably my biggest influence in becoming a singer,” says Elton, who is truly a country boy at heart. “I heard him sing and I thought I have to do that.” Country music has not been his only musical inspiration. Elton, like many others, was awestruck when he heard the glorious voice of Colm Wilkinson. “When Colm became the Phantom of the Opera and sang in Les Miserables – I was changed. I know it’s a cliché, but Colm’s performances convinced me that I could become an opera singer,” says Elton. And he did just that. Elton took home top honours in the Bravo television show “So You Want to Be an Opera Star: Bathroom Divas.”
Elton grew up in the Okanagan Valley, BC, and eventually relocated to Hamilton, ON. “I tried living in Hamilton for a bit, but I didn’t care for city life,” explains Elton. He packed his bags and headed for peaceful Ridgeway, ON. “I did not know anyone in Ridgeway or Crystal Beach. It is a quaint town filled with many award winning artists, writers, and musicians,” says Elton. Since his move, Elton has been a crowd favourite at the Crystal Chandelier in Crystal Beach, Ont., where every week the tables are littered with “reserved signs” and toes are always tapping in a room filled with chandeliers.
His modesty and sense of humour are qualities that draw in an army of loyal fans. Maureen Walker, a supporter of Elton’s talent, enjoys his low key demeanour. “He interacts with his audience and you can tell he is having a good time,” says Walker. The personable approach he takes to performing is another way that Elton sets himself apart from other artists. “He remembers what the crowd likes. He knows I like Patsy Cline, so he plays it for me,” says Walker.
The range of Elton’s talent also allows him to perform in various venues across continents. “I do everything from Toronto concert halls to small town church halls,” says Elton. “I have a few wealthy fans that fly me to a tropical island to play a private show for them,” says Elton. “I don’t mind that at all.”
Before Sunrise, Elton’s third album, can be described as a mix of everything from country to what he refers to as “old soul” music. “It is a sound similar to what Ray Charles would have recorded and borders on the lines of blues,” says Elton. Elton’s passion for writing original music stems from his experiences and the people he has met on his journey through music and life. “There was a girl that came to one of my shows two years ago. She wanted to use my song at her wedding. Her fiancé had cancer and was given six months to live. I got off the phone with her and wrote ‘By My Side,’” says Elton.
In the past 25 years, Elton has donned many hats. He started out as a drummer, saxophone player and evolved into a multi-faceted musician. “I have had to venture into different genres of music in order for me to make a living as a musician. Crossing all these genres has definitely made me a better musician,” says Elton.
To say that Elton’s performances are a “must see show” is an understatement. Whether you see Elton in a concert setting such as the Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre or at a private backyard party, you will be impressed/enamoured by his charisma and stage presence. Not only is he one of the most talented musicians from the Niagara Region, but also one of the most humble people you will ever meet. Maureen Walker summed up Elton best when she said, “One of the things I like about him is that he makes you feel like we are all in this together.” For more information and upcoming gigs, visit www.eltonlammie.com
Making Her Musical Mark: Beth Moore
When Beth Moore was 18 years old, she picked up a guitar for the first time. A mere three weeks later she was playing her first gig. “It was one of those moments where you knew it was what you were meant to do,” recalls Moore. Now in her late twenties, this singer songwriter is embarking on the release of her second album, Get Low.
Moore grew up in a highly musical family. Her parents met while travelling by bus across North America performing in a Christian rock band. Her older brother is a jazz musician and her younger brother was a member of a punk rock group. “I was the only unmusical one in my family. I was actually asked not to sing in the high school play,” Moore recalls. “In choir practise, I would pretend I couldn’t sing alto, so I became a very bad soprano singer instead of a great alto singer,” says Moore. It was a while before Moore accepted the low range of her tessitura, but when she did, her talent exploded. “So when I found my voice I was willing to say what I needed to say in music and write the songs that needed to be sung,” adds Moore.
Moore describes her album as a modern style of indie folk art. “I never set out to find a specific style of music. My sound came simply from how I wanted to play,” says Moore, whose sultry voice is often compared to singer Nora Jones. “My voice is not dainty,” she laughs. Moore has certainly hit a right chord with the smoky sound of the songs on her second album.
The Port Colborne, ON, native finds solace in writing original music. “I wrote 60 songs for this album and my record producer, Tim Abraham, was very honest about all of them,” says Moore. She is grateful for the support she received from Abraham and from The Hive Recording Studio in Toronto, ON. “In a time where artist development is extinct, Tim believed in me when no one else would,” states Moore. Throughout the recording process, Moore and her team strove for perfection, resulting in a cohesive and satisfying album.
“I enjoy singing the songs I write because it is sort of a release,” says Moore. From a small café to Parliament Hill on Canada Day, Beth enjoys performing for all types of crowds. “I could have had the worst day, week, or month, but when I am on stage I am home and it’s the place I am most comfortable,” says Moore. She admits that she sometimes hopes people are not listening to her lyrics as she describes herself as an “open book.”
Nevertheless, she is able to put those thoughts aside when she believes her music is reaching people. “If my music helps people not feel alone in what they are going through, then I am satisfied with that,” she states. Moore was honoured to have one of the songs off her new album, “Love Now” featured in an episode of Degrassi, a favourite Canadian television series.
“I had no business trying to make this album, seeing how broke I was,” states Moore. “I was sleeping on bath towels because I couldn’t afford a mattress.” Moore didn’t allow her financial situation to be the end of her dream. Although the project had to be put on hold a few times, with a great deal of patience, Moore’s album was fully funded by the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Recordings, the Ontario Arts Council and through the kindness of strangers who made private donations. “I want the people that invested in me to reap everything they have sown into my career. Lots of people have taken a risk on me, I hope I can spoil them one day,” says Moore.
Moore’s character has been shaped by not only the hardships she has endured, but the perseverance she has demonstrated in overcoming obstacles to reach her personal goals. “I never let qualifications or lack of money stop me from doing the things I want to do. I am surprised how things come together when you don’t quit,” states Moore. “My main goals are to keep playing music, tell more stories, and it would be nice to be able to afford mattress.” Although Moore may belt out the lyrics “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring” one thing is for certain, Beth Moore is making her mark as one of Canada’s leading ladies in song. To listen to Beth Moore and see dates for upcoming shows, visit bethmooremusic.com