Singer/actor Tom Jackson is taking to the road again to help in the fight against hunger.
The Huron Carole – presented on Dec. 4th at the Harvest Centre – returns with a tour to help raise funds and awareness for Canada’s hungry. Proceeds will also benefit the Red Deer Food Bank.
“Fred Scaife (executive director of the food bank) is a salt of the earth kind of guy, so we are all thrilled to be working with him,” he said.
It was back in the late 1980s, Jackson, a prolific singer/actor/producer and activist, came up with the idea of bringing together some musician friends in an effort to support food banks – especially around the Christmas season.
He recalls working with a soup kitchen and emergency referral centre in the heart downtown Toronto. “When I was looking for some way to get my hands dirty, I found they had a shortage of hampers for people who lived in the area.”
The concept of raising funds via music was born, and he knew he could count on fellow musicians to get behind the idea.
“The thing that saved my life – literally, not figuratively – was Christmas,” he said. “And I will do whatever I can for as long as I can to honour that moment in time and make sure I pay the proper tribute, the proper reverence and that I commit myself to share the gift that I was given,” he said.
The concert was named after Canada’s first Christmas carol, composed in 1641 by Father Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit Priest known for his missionary work with the people of Huronia. Through The Huron Carol song, Father de Brebeuf interpreted the story of Christmas in the Huron language. The carol was kept alive in the Huron language for more than 100 years before being translated to French and English.
After many successful years of raising funds through the Huron Carole, Jackson opted to rebrand the project for a time as ‘Singing for Supper’, which focused on smaller communities in more intimate settings. But as a result of the heavy demands on food banks across the country, Jackson wanted to restart The Huron Carole and again engage larger markets as well.
The goal is also to inspire that sense of goodwill and sharing, “Between New Years and Christmas, not just between Christmas and New Years,” he said.
Born to an English father and Cree mother, he carries the legacy of his parents’ search for social acceptance and keeping their door open for anyone who might need a meal or a conversation.
For a generation of TV viewers his six years of playing Chief Peter Kenidi in CBC’s North of 60 still draws comments, letters, emails and hugs from fans.
“I never, ever thought that North of 60 was going to have the kind of impact that it’s had. It continues to amaze me and to a large degree, flatter me” he said. “It has become, in its own way, generational.”
Meanwhile, his latest CD, Ballads Not Bullets, was just released last month. Sales will help support the Canadian Red Cross and the upcoming tour will have local beneficiaries for each city.
“When I was a young man, I had a choice to make – ballads or bullets, I chose ballads. BNB is not just a ballad for peace but also for freedom, Mother Earth, wellness, heroes and love,” said Jackson, adding this particular project has been about five years in the making. “That being said, you have to take into account a lot of procrastination,” he chuckled.
“It might have been a shorter process, but because I was not being pressured I kept going back and maybe defining myself not so much as a professional producer or perfectionist. But I realized that every nuance in every song had to determine that song to be a ‘movie’ unto its own so it could create in the mind’s eye an experience that is more than just a listening one.
“At the end of the day, I’m very pleased with the outcome,” he said, adding he’s also pleased with the CD’s overall tone. “I want to deliver a message but I don’t want to burden people with a message. I want to deliver something that they can think about and that activates parts of their passion and their soul to become engaged with the kinds of issues I deal with.”
Jackson has also released his book, 364, this month, too. “364 is a composite of my thoughts and paraphrased philosophy of the leaders that have inspired me. It’s goal is to promote the same instinct of wellness for you, for others and for the world.”
For ticket information for the Red Deer performance, call the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626 or visit www.blackknightinn.ca.