Jackie Richardson continues to give back through her music
Award-winning vocalist and actress, Jackie Richardson, did not have to go far to find musical influences. Her grandmother listened to gospel, her mother was a big Frank Sinatra fan and her father sang jazz.
The family tradition continues through Richardson’s daughter, Kim, who signed a two-year deal at age 18 with A & M Records and whose first single, He’s My Lover, was honoured with a Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist in 1986.
Richardson, who migrated to the Greater Toronto Area with her family at age seven from Pennsylvania where she was born, shared the spotlight with her daughter at the second annual “Ignite the Spark Fund” gala last Sunday.
Hosted by the Children’s Aid Foundation, funds raised from the event provide young people in foster care with life-changing opportunities to explore sports, arts and cultural programs that are critical to personal growth and development.
Last March, the Children’s Aid Foundation granted $180,000 from the “Ignite the Spark Fund” to three Toronto child welfare agencies.
Richardson joined legendary guitarist/songwriter Randy Bachman, world figure skating champion Patrick Chan, Fashion magazine editor-in-chief Bernadette Morra and actress and Top Chef Canada host Lisa Ray in paying tribute to the individuals who first ignited their inner spark.
She listed late composer/arranger/pianist Doug Riley known as Dr. Music, with whom she toured, and American-born Canadian-based singer/songwriter/actress Salome Bey among her mentors.
“On a personal level, Doug was like a big brother,” said Richardson, who began singing in her church choir at age seven and joined a local quartet – The Tiaras – nine years later. “He encouraged me to try whatever I could and he also gave me constructive criticism. Salome has been one of my biggest mentors. I call her “Mother Earth”. She said to me one day there is something about your voice that lends itself to the blues and you should sing that. The number of people that have mentored me is amazing. When I least expected it, somebody would tap me on the shoulder and say Jackie, I think you should try this.”
Canada’s foremost singer of gospel, blues and jazz has been doing the same thing for her daughter for several years.
“I have always encouraged her,” said Richardson, who in 2004 won the South African Women for Women Friendship Award and a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Female Principal role in a Musical for Cookin’ at the Cookery: The Music of Alberta Hunter. “I started her out in dance at age five because she was growing too fast. Through dance, she chose to write plays and by the time she was about 15, she had a solid, solid thing. It’s necessary that we stand up for our kids.”
Backed by Faith Chorale, Richardson and her daughter performed a duet at the fundraising event started by real estate developer Mark Daniels and his wife Andrea Weissman-Daniels who were inspired by their own experience with their adopted daughter, Kacey Daniels.
Pianist and Order of Canada recipient, Joe Sealy, a close friend of Richardson, provided the musical direction for this year’s tribute titled Rhythm & Soul that dramatized the transformative power of music in the life of a child.