A City man’s newly-released song honouring first responders to May’s devastating Fort McMurray fires is already causing quite a stir online.
Brian Walrond and his family, who had called Fort McMurray home for five years, relocated to Red Deer this past fall. Although their home wasn’t damaged in the fires, the harrowing experience certainly had a profound effect on Walrond and his wife Dianalee and their two young daughters.
Brian, who is originally from Brooklyn, New York, released the powerful tune in November called When Thank You Is Not Enough, and to date, the song has been viewed some 56,000 times and shared more than 1,000 times.
The outpouring of response to the song has also been absolutely tremendous – and very moving as well. There’s no question it has struck a chord with not just those who experienced the fires firsthand, but many who watched it unfold from afar as well.
As Brian noted on the initial facebook post, “This piece is probably one of the most emotional songs I’ve written. I’ve been affected by all those first responders who have put their lives on the line to fight the horrific fires this past summer and helped preserve more than 90% of Fort McMurray.
“I thank God that my family, my home and my life was spared. Today I pay tribute to them with a song that has taken almost six months to finish.”
These days, he and Dianalee are running RS1 Motivational Media Productions here in Red Deer, which was actually launched in 2012. The ministry is described as one that helps people unlock their God-given gifts, talent and passions and inspire them to fulfill their purpose.
“The mission is to ignite passion, unlock potential, unleash creativity and inspire purpose,” explained Brian. “That’s our mission statement, and that’s pretty much what we’ve been doing all of our lives. With music, or when I go minister through preaching or offer workshops in media. That is our heart – to help people.”
Looking back a few years, Brian hadn’t done much with his musical talent for some time.
But then there came a resurgence of inspiration and creativity. Lyrics began to surface in around 2009 during a particularly challenging time. To that end, he’s planning to release a new EP next year at some point. Two recordings have already been released – Crocodiles & Alligators (2015) and Beyond Me (2013) – both of which are available on iTunes. “I had all these lyrics coming to me that I couldn’t even keep up with.”
Combined with his gift for writing and performing some truly memorable music that wields an undeniable impact, there is no question that the ministry – and the music – is impacting many lives.
For the Walronds, their journey together started nearly 20 years ago when they met after a show Brian was performing in in New Westminster. Dianalee, who hails from Powell River, B.C., hadn’t even wanted to attend the performance with her friend, but she did.
“My friend had met him, and called me to say he was putting on this concert, and that I had to go,” she explained with a chuckle. “I said what kind of music, and she said, ‘rap’. I said, I don’t know why you called me. I’m staying home.
“But she was very persistent, so I reluctantly went.”
She was impressed with what she heard – words with a Christian message that had an impact.
Later on, she connected to Brian as he was looking for people to help with his ministry at the time. He said he initially felt prompted to ask her friend to sing with him.
“I said (to the friend) that I felt God wanted her to sing with me.” That friend accepted that offer.
About two months later, Dianalee started working with him, too, as a counsellor and prayer partner for young women who attended the various shows. “That’s where I came onboard,” said Dianalee.
Marriage would ultimately follow as would two children.
Life took on an even more meaningful purpose than it had before. They lived on the west coast for awhile, and then eventually settled in Fort McMurray in 2011.
Virtually from the start, they loved their community, and describe it in the warmest of terms.
“We had an amazing community of friends and church there,” Dianalee recalls. Brian worked for Titan Mining, the kids loved the City too, and life was good.
As for the fires that swept through the Fort McMurray region this past May, the experience was life-changing. Brian and Dianalee were actually out of town – in Grande Prairie – at a church conference when the worst of the flames hit.
Their kids were under the care of Dianalee’s mom at the time, but thankfully they made it safely to Edmonton during the evacuations where the family was happily reunited. Dianalee recalls how the fires – even in the days prior to the worst of it – were creeping uncomfortably close to the community.
Water bombers were circling the neighbourhood, and the couple said they had never seen them come so close before.
“You see all the footage, and you watch the first responders working – it was really personal,” he said.
“It was pretty devastating. So I felt like I wanted to do something that would channel that emotion,” he explained of the writing of When Thank You Is Not Enough.
“It put the words to how a lot of people feel. This is a gift – I wanted to pay homage to them.”
Check out www.Rs1motivationalmedia.com or find them on facebook at “RS1 Motivational Media Productions’.