Honouring and remembering Kenny Shields

Source: http://www.bobego.com/streetheartgallery2.html
For many of us of a certain age in central Saskatchewan, the Streetheart concert in Yorkton was our first time seeing rock stars in action.  The opening acts were Toronto and Headpins, two bands that also had songs on the charts at that time.  It was a big deal as we were from a small town where nothing like this ever happened.  We got to see and experience the music that had been coming through our radio speakers and the human beings that made it.

I remember the blue haze in the crowd (my first and most memorable introduction to the smell of marijuana) and the inebriated fans.  I also remember the intoxicating voice of Kenny Shields, the iconic lead singer of Streetheart.


It is not surprising that on Day 5 of my 18 Day Painting Challenge when I pulled the prompt, "first musician I saw in concert", that Kenny Shields was the first person who came to mind.

Kenny and I actually met at the Keyano College Gala in 2011.  We were able to have a conversation about our point of connection: the time I spent babysitting for his sister Shar in Kamsack.  I spent many an evening with her two sons, Jeff and David.  I remember that he made me feel completely comfortable, like we had known each other all of our lives.



I was a little bit under the gun yesterday as I had a 9:00 am appointment.  In doing a time-lapse video and having a clock on the wall that I thought was running 30 minutes late (watch how it doesn't move an inch in the video), I was time-impaired. 


When I decided to call it quits, I thought it might be 8:15 am or 8:30 am.  In fact, it was 8:50 am and I had to rush inside, grab my keys and get to my coffee visit.


I returned to the studio several hours later, did some finishing touches, and signed the 10" x 20" portrait of a true Canadian music legend.  Kenny Shields was much loved and respected for the music he created and for the strength and authenticity of his character.  He died last summer at the age of 69.

Soon after posting the picture of the painting, word made its way to Kenny's sister in Lanigan and eventually, Kenny's partner Elena in Winnipeg.  I was able to connect with both of them privately, which was very special.

I wrote to Elena that "I hope it captures Kenny's amazing heart."

"It captures everything about Kenny," she replied.

That's all any artist can hope for.  I'm honoured that both Shar and Elena have accepted my offer to send each of them a canvas print of this painting.  The original will be sold with proceeds going toward to the build of a home for a family in need in Cambodia this November through Bracelets 4 Buildings.

If you are a Kenny Shields and Streetheart fan and would like to support our project and provide a home for this original portrait, connect with me via my Russell Thomas Art Facebook page or send me an email at russell.thomas@birdsongconnections.com.

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