Fort McMurray Today

Saturday, April 25/2009

A City Full of Local Talent

Fort McMurray has a lot of talent. Look around and you’ll find singers, dancers, and writers. Just recently I was a volunteer at the Westwood Market. There were tables with knitting, clothing, household wares, toys, books, homemade gift bags, and designer pet fashions. I was helping out at the Fort McMurray Christian School table, selling chocolates and raising awareness for the school in the community.

Across the aisle from me sat the husband and wife team of Simon and Patricia Budd. Simon is a guitar instructor, singer/songwriter, and instrumentalist. He was at the market, selling his CDs and entertaining us with his phenomenal guitar playing. Patricia was selling her first novel and advertising her second which is well on its way to publication.

Before I took up my post at the Christian School table I went over to speak with the Budds.

I had read Patricia’s book A New Dawn Rising about a year ago so I felt quite comfortable talking with her. The story takes us back to 1809 in the southern United States. Slavery is still the order of the day, but in an interesting twist we are introduced to John Connolley, a white slave of powerful plantation owner, Jacob Barlow. We discover the unusual events that lead to Connolley’s enslavement and his struggles to free himself. Branded a slave, Connolley is destined to the lowest strata of society, separated forever from his true love. The book examines Southern culture and prejudices. We see the typical relationship of white masters to black slaves. However, we also see an interesting examination of a white slave to his white master and to the black slaves with whom he serves. Budd brings it all to a conclusion in a startling denouement. (The book does include adult content and would not be suitable for children.) As a first effort, Budd has spun an interesting tale.

Patricia is in the midst of writing a new novel about a young man and his adventures in school. She showed me the illustrations she has so far and it sounds and looks like an engaging read. She is hoping to have the novel on the market by next year.

After chatting with Patricia I was introduced to her husband, Simon. He is an amazing guitarist with two CDs out, Mother’s Nature and The Wait is Over. I was privileged to listen to his playing while we manned our tables.

In our conversation I discovered that Simon’s second CD The Wait is Over was nominated at the 2006 Western Canadian Music Awards for Outstanding Instrumental Recording. This is a high honour and something of which he is very proud. Sadly, very few people know about this accomplishment. Simon mentioned to me that more people outside of Fort McMurray know of his achievement than the folks in this town.

I took their cards and checked out their websites which were easy to navigate and informative. There were samples of Simon’s music which I enjoyed listening to. Fort McMurray has a lot of potential – and that potential comes from its people. Take a moment and check out their web pages. You might just be surprised at what your fellow-McMurrayites have to offer!

Cyndy Pickersgill