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Mesmerising moment of musical delight

Canadian international recording artist Justin Hines, who has chalked up a number of hits on the Billboard charts, was the star attraction at the Bermuda Folk Club.

On Island for a speaking engagement at WindReach, Mr Hines accepted an invitation at the club where he sang two songs from his 2009 album ‘Chasing Silver'.

Those fortunate to be at the Spanish Point Boat Club on Saturday were treated to mesmerising moment of musical delight midway through the evening as Mr Hines sang ‘Courage (Come Out and Play)', lifting his body upwards in his wheelchair as he gave powerful expression to the poignant lyrics.

Local guitarists Michael Cacy and Tony Haye provided the musical accompaniment, expertly measured to compliment Mr Hines' impressive voice.

His second song ‘Say What You Will' was equally poignant and heartfelt, leaving the audience wanting to hear more and hoping Mr Hines will visit again.

The club's annual Irish Night, featuring a good number of Irish songs and tunes ahead of St Patrick's Day, was well attended.

Opening performer singer-songwriter Val Sherwood perfectly set the mood for the evening with some Irish covers which included ‘The Mountains of Mourne' and ‘The 12th of Never', timeless classics that shone brightly thanks to Ms Sherwood's lilting voice and meticulous guitar-playing.

The Bermuda School of Music brought a touch of classical playing to proceedings, firstly with guitarists Jerremiah Smith and Elijah Toavs playing together, before young Elijah performed solo on the traditional Irish tune ‘The Sixpence'.

He then made way for guitarists Steve Crawford and students Madison and Hailey Quig, a delightful ensemble whose intertwined playing crisply filled the air to the delight of the audience.

The evening's host Jamie Lovell upped the tempo with two popular numbers, including ‘Chim Chim Cheree' from the Mary Poppins movie.

Before providing musical backing for the aforementioned Mr Hines, guitarist-singer Michael Cacy played two songs, the second a well-received musical adaptation of ‘Odes to Nea' written by Irish poet Tom Moore in Bermuda in 1804.

Folk Club stalwart Dawn Robinson made a welcome return with a beautifully melodic cover version of US rock band Pearl Jam's ‘Release'. The guitar-playing Ms Robinson was then joined by singer Alex Alferez for a number of Irish tunes, including ‘Danny Boy', and Christy Moore's ‘The Voyage', all well received by the audience.

Well-known bass player Jeffrey Marshall showed his skills as an acoustic guitarist and was superbly accompanied by electric lead guitarist Tony Haye. It was one of the highlights of the evening as the duo combined on Dan Fogelberg's ‘Leader of the Band' and Gordon Lightfoot's ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald'.

The audience was transported to South America when Milton Villamarin took to the stage with songs from Chile, Argentina and Columbia. The guitarist-singer from Ecuador is one half of the duo Los Bohemians who delighted Bermuda Folk Club audiences during the past few years. His dexterity as a guitarist was evident on ‘Mama Vieja' as he switched effortlessly between walking bass lines and fast strums.

The evening concluded with some lighthearted moments from Mike Keats, including his self-penned ‘Um Ums' song, which delighted the crowd.

Star attraction: Justin Hines performs at Bermuda Folk Club
<p>‘You can still do great things’</p>

Canadian recording artist and inspirational speaker Justin Hines came to Bermuda to visit WindReach, which provides facilities for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. He also visited a number of schools to give talks and spread encouragement to others.

Mr Hines was born with Larsen’s syndrome and uses a wheelchair, but that has not prevented him achieving acclaim and scoring a number of hits in the Billboard charts in North America. He records on the Orange Lounge label, which is distributed by Universal Music.

He has also toured extensively across North America, and also in Dubai and England. In 2008 he appeared at a live concert which also featured former Supertramp singer Roger Hodgson.

A concert special featuring Mr Hines has been shown more than 400 times on the PBS channel across North America.

Photographer Martine Robinson has known the singer-songwriter all her life. She said: “His grandmother loved music, she was Irish, and both his parents are wonderful musicians.

“When he was little he was always singing. He has always had the ability to touch people. He now has an incredible following in Canada.”

Earlier this year Mr Hines was made a member of the Order of Ontario in recognition of his achievements as an internationally recognised singer and performer who has used his success to raise money and help others through the Justin Hines Foundation.

He was a guest speaker at a Common Ground Inspirational Conference held at the original WindReach Farm, in his home region of Ontario. This led to his invite to the Bermuda facility.

Erica Fulton, executive director of WindReach Bermuda, said the visit had been a great success.

“Disabilities are quite invisible in Bermuda, but just because someone uses a chair does not stop them from doing great things. Justin has shown that and he talks with a lot of empathy,” she said.

Mr Hines was accompanied by his wife Savannah, visiting WindReach and schools, including TN Tatem and Clearwater.

He said he loved the Island, and appreciated the warmer weather. “I came for a speaking engagement on behalf of WindReach, whom I linked up with in Canada.”

He said a message he hoped to get across to people was one of universal acceptance, adding: “We are all in this together.”

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Published March 12, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm)

Mesmerising moment of musical delight

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