She started playing the violin at 5. Moving to the ukulele a year or so later seemed a natural shift because the fingering is the same, and so she self-taught.
Two years ago, she picked up drum sticks for the first time and proved that she had natural rhythm. She studied with a multi-gold-album drummer from South Africa and a local jazz drummer who is well-known and respected in town and abroad.
For the past two weekends, her school concert band and jazz band have been competing with other schools in the region, both bands on both weekends claiming gold awards—she was singled out with a special award as well.
Yes, I'm a proud dad, putting his youngest daughter in the spotlight.
This past Sunday, she was in the spotlight again, and if you'll indulge this beaming father, I'd like to share.
Her drum instructor, Jeff Asselin, told my daughter about a blues event that was featuring young musicians and hosted by Juno-nominated blues artist, JW Jones, and would she be interested. The event was called #613FutureBlues.
DD13 wasn't sure about the event but we received the contact information anyway.
On Sunday, February 26, I phoned JW and asked him about the event, and whether DD13 would be able to participate. When I reached him, he was on the road, travelling in the US, performing. He gave me the low-down on the event, took my e-mail address, and said he'd send me details. In the meantime, he asked for a demo video, as an audition for the event: just four or five minutes of DD, of her showing what she could do.
That afternoon, I recorded DD13 as she did four samples of her drum style. We shipped it to the address he sent me, and waited.
The next day, he replied, said he was impressed, and he was definitely adding her to the lineup. He explained that in the next few days, he would send her the numbers to learn for the show.
That information came on Thursday night. It came in the form of links to YouTube videos of live performances of the songs she had to learn. No sheet music. No further instructions.
For the next couple of days, DD13 watched and practiced the drum beats, on top of her rehearsals for her school jazz band competition, which was happening on that Saturday (did I mention her band took gold?).
After her Saturday competition, DD13 forgot her drum sticks at a friends house, and on Sunday she found herself with no sticks and unable to reach her friend. We had to wait for a music store to open, at noon, to buy her replacement sticks. From 12:30 to 2:30, she practiced those numbers.
She arrived at the venue at 3:00, not knowing what to expect, having never met JW Jones or any of the other musicians. No rehearsal. No sheet music.
It was all by memory. And talent.
JW started the event with a show by his band. I wasn't familiar with his music before I saw the YouTube videos that he sent, but I have to say that after hearing him perform, I'm hooked. I bought his latest CD and absolutely love it.
I'm not going to tell you how it went. If you're interested, I've put together a recording of DD13's three numbers, where she performed with JW and his bass player, Laura Greenberg. On their third number, another young player joined on guitar, and he was nothing short of incredible.
Here's the video: it's about 10 minutes long, so watch it when you have a moment or two.
When DD13 returned home from school, the very next day, she went up to her room without much of a word. Moments, later, I heard her blowing notes out of my old trumpet, from when I was in a few of my high-school bands. She's only just started playing it, and from what I've heard, there's no stopping this girl.