Early in the new year our friends at Spotlight Ottawa brought to our attention plans for a charity event to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). The months that followed would lead to us being part of something extremely special. Months of hard work and planning brought us to last Saturday night, October 21…Sing Out for CHEO.

Ottawa city Councillor Tim Tierney talks to the crowd during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Out of the hundreds of events we’ve covered over the year in Ottawa nothing was more anticipated than Sing Out for CHEO. Founded by Ottawa area musician Danny Sylvester last year as an effort to give back to the hospital that did so much for his family after his daughter Marychelle was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. The inaugural event was held in 2016 at the St. Louis Bar and Grill but this year Danny decided it was time to grow the event into something bigger.

Sing Out for CHEO Merch at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

There aren’t many families in the Ottawa area that don’t have a CHEO story, ours included. Having spent much of the Christmas Holidays living at CHEO with my son last year I was amazed at the level of care the hospital gives to the children and their families alike. It was then I vowed that sometime in the near future Sound Check Entertainment would be doing something special to give back to this amazing organization. So being approached by Danny and his team was the perfect opportunity.

Last Saturday night the months of planning all came together as 4 groups of local musicians lead by Ottawa favourites River Town Saints joined together on stage at TD Place for a night of music and stories to benefit CHEO.

Sandi Skye performs during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Starting the night off was the incredibly talented Sandi Skye. Sandi has been part of the local country music community for a number of years and I like to refer to her as Ottawa’s best kept secret that is just waiting to explode into country music big time. Sandi and I have been friends for a number of years and the combination of raw talent and her adorable sweet personality have her perched high at the top of our ones to watch list. It’s been almost two years since her last single “Sew” was released to country radio so new music is long overdue, but good things come to those who wait and something tells me Sandi is just waiting for the right time to strike and with the popularity of women in country music growing stronger and stronger that time is almost neigh. For now we’re happy to settle for Sandi’s incredible live performances in and around eastern Ontario but soon we’ll gladly share this secret with the world! If you’re still unfamiliar with Sandi Skye do yourself a favour and visit www.sandiskye.com, tell her Hendrik sent you!

John Allaire performs during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Following Sandi was a late addition to our lineup, John Allaire. Allaire was added after one of the groups on the bill had to cancel and boy what a diamond in the rough we found in him. Allaire brought me back to the days where singer songwriters like Bob Dylan and Tom Petty ruled the airwaves. It was clear that Allaire was the most seasoned musician in attendance that night. Allaire began his musical journey over 30 years ago joining a number of bands including a spot in the award winning group “The Town Criers”. He’s 7 albums into his solo career and has proven that even a heart attack in 2010 wouldn’t be enough to silence him. I could’ve sat and listen to Allaire perform all night but that would have to wait for another night as there was more music in store. For more info on John visit www.johnallaire.com

Danny Sylvestre performs with his daughter Marychelle during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

Danny Sylvestre is another one of those diamonds in the rough just waiting to explode onto the national country music scene. Music has played a part in Danny’s life since the very beginning but, lets face it, the music industry is tough and when you have a young family and a daughter with very special needs sometimes the right move is to chose your family over music…thankfully his family ties were strong and his daughter Marychelle had CHEO’s support and Danny’s passion wasn’t silenced for long. Prior to Saturday night I had seen Danny perform once before at another benefit, Shake The Foundation, in Renfrew. This guy is no rookie musician, he’s a straight up powerhouse and knows how to keep the crowd rockin’.

Danny put on one heck of a show at one point he brought Ottawa City Councillor, and amazing supporter of Sing Out for CHEO, Tim Tierney out on stage to perform a tribute to the late great Gord Downie with a rendition of “New Orleans is Sinking”. The performance brought the crowd to their feet.

The most amazing moment of the night came when Danny was joined by his daughter Marychelle. This was the young woman who inspired Danny to create this amazing event and there was no mystery as to why. Even more incredible was when Danny and Marychelle teamed up to sing Train’s “Hey Soul Sister”, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and made me so proud that we could be part of this incredible event. You can find more about Danny at his website www.dannysylvestre.com

The headliners of the night needed little introduction but I figured heck why not give it a try. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not fond of the spotlight but this event was unique and I’m so proud of how far the River Town Saints have come in the few years since we gave them an opening slot at the Spencerville Stampede. I was so touched and impressed by everyone involved in Sing Out for CHEO that I felt it was important for me to get up on stage and represent Sound Check Entertainment. So I gave it my best shot and introduced the River Town Saints.

Hendrik Pape of Sound Check Entertainment talks to the crowd during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

As I stood back stage waiting for Ryan Lindsay to introduce me my heart was beating so much I thought it was going to jump out of my chest but when I walked out on that stage and accepted the mic from Ryan all the nerves melted away. Everyone in the audience that night was a friend, whether it was a friend of mine personally or a friend of SCE or even just a friend of the music we all support. Suddenly it became less intimidating. (mind you having my photo taken while on stage is something that will take some getting used to lol)

River Town Saints perform during Sing Out for CHEO at TD Place in Ottawa. Photo: Renée Doiron

The River Town Saints closed out the night doing what they do best, putting on a show. These are the classiest guys you’ll ever meet and I’m ever so grateful to call them friends. Their debut single, “A Little Bit Goes a Long Way” was our inspiration behind Sing Out for CHEO!

Final numbers haven’t been calculated as of yet but one thing is certain, there was a whole lot of heart at TD Place last Saturday night. We are already looking forward to Sing Out for CHEO 3, initial plans got underway before the music ended. Special thanks to everyone who was part of this event but I want to send a special shout out to Scott Martin of Spotlight Ottawa for bringing this event to our attention.

For more information visit www.singoutforcheo.ca

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