Singer Justin Hines in town for benefit

Canadian singer/songwriter Justin Hines is on his way to Red Deer to introduce his new CD and support a worthy community cause.

His ‘Vehicle of Change Tour’ makes a City stop on Sept. 7 at McMan’s Park Plaza Building (#103, 5214 – 47th Ave.) in support of the McMan Substance Abuse Services for Youth.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

Hines has seen many of his dreams come true including his fourth studio CD How We Fly which was released this past May.

A true philanthropist since the beginning of his career, he understands that there are people in need throughout the world and he didn’t want to limit himself to just one cause.

To that end, Hines wants to raise money to cover his touring costs so he can visit as communities in North America as possible and give 100% of funds raised at the events to local charities.

“Everyone needs help, so we’re going to donate 100 per cent of proceeds back to the local charity at each stop. Hopefully, through this tour, we can help others reach their goals and bring awareness to their cause.”

In each town, the Vehicle of Change tour aims to hook Hines up with a different charity or organization. The type of event Hines performs at is ultimately up to the charity, based on what they want the event to achieve.

“This tour is something I always dreamed of doing, but never thought possible,” he says. “It’s a way for me to give back and to bring awareness to so many amazing causes.”

Even though Hines grew up singing in church at his grandmother’s behest, his realization that music was what he wanted to do came at a Toronto Raptors’ basketball game.

A then-14-year old Hines won a competition to sing the Canadian and U.S. National anthems at the game and his world opened up before him.

Thrown in the deep end, Hines, who has performed professionally ever since, realized he could not only survive, but thrive.

But then again, Hines has thrived all his life against odds that would daunt someone with a less indomitable spirit.

Hines has Larsen Syndrome, a joint dislocation condition that has him permanently using a wheelchair. “The reality is I don’t really look at my situation as that big a deal,” he says. “We all have things that challenge us, just some people’s are a little more visible in the forefront. Mine is very apparent, whereas others wear it on the inside.”

Hines has performed throughout Europe, China, the Middle East, South Africa and North America. He performed at the Beijing Olympics supported by Sheila E, the Vancouver Olympics and the Pan Am Games in Mexico.

Although he admits his condition has provided challenges, he sees the good it has brought him and the inspiration he can provide others.

“There have been so many blessings. It’s afforded me so many other opportunities. It’s a bit of an attention grabber,” he says about his chair.

“But my job is to keep people interested and keep their attention with my music.”

Music has always been a big part of Hines’ life.

Though Hines doesn’t remember it, his mom tells him he wrote his first song when he was seven.

In his late teens, Hines decided to teach himself how to play piano as a way to better express himself, despite the obstacles Larsen Syndrome provided.

“I’d done a lot of writing with other people. The most frustrating thing was I could hear the song in my head, but I was relying on other people to write chords since I didn’t play anything,” he says. “I decided for just about a year to focus on playing piano. I had to figure out my own method of how to make it work. My fingers are unique. Sometimes I use up to seven fingers. For a lot of songs I can get by with three.”

Indeed, Hines’ home in the music world is not cut and dried.

“Most people assume there are challenges to being a performer in a wheelchair and indeed there are some, but when an audience sees you climb on stage via a giant metal ramp, you kind of have their attention.”