Musical connections

North Van native launching a foundation to make music possible for people with special needs

  • The Mighty Hughs Foundation All Star Fundraiser, Thursday, April 23 at Vancouver's The Roxy Cabaret. Doors: 7 p.m. Show: 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15, visit ticketzone.com.

When Chris Trigg heard his stepdaughter sing along with him to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," everything changed.

Born with a rare genetic disorder resulting in developmental delays, Bear, as she's affectionately known (her real name withheld to protect her as a vulnerable person), had previously been unable to speak more than a couple of words at a time.

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Trigg, a musician, referred to as "Song" by Bear, an avid fan of music, had watched her journey in the years leading up to that moment as she tried to sing along with him. Finally, she blew him away at age 17 when she joined him on both the verses and chorus of the classic work.

Experiencing firsthand the positive impacts of music on people with special needs, Trigg has continued to work with Bear, now 22, on songs and expanding her repertoire.

The solo artist and member of Hummingbird Deluxe has also been working increasingly with community members at large who have special needs in addition to those diagnosed with dementia.

"Folks look at special needs folks and they see the disability. Once you see past that you realize that they're just like you and me, except they're just communicating in different ways. And when you hit them with music.. .. you see people come alive," says Trigg, who grew up in Lynn Valley.

Interested in expanding his reach, he's currently in the throes of launching The Mighty Hughs Foundation, with a mission of making music possible for people with special needs. His current goal is to begin offering programming in Victoria, where he currently resides, and the North Shore.

Supporting him with the endeavour are a host of West Coast musicians and they're banding together for a benefit concert this Thursday night, April 23, at Vancouver's The Roxy Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. Artists featured include current and former members of groups like BTO, Streetheart, Barney Bentall Band, Paul Rodgers Band, Lee Aaron Band and DOA.

"You're not going to see a lineup like this for a long time. This is a really massive amount of people," says Trigg.

The benefit show will be hosted by former Roxy house band of 15 years, Dr. Strangelove, which Trigg co-founded, and was long a member of before relocating to Vancouver Island.

The concert marks the official launch of The Mighty Hughs Foundation, formed last year by Trigg with the support of a number of Victoria and Vancouver musicians.

Current board members include musicians and benefit performers Saffron Henderson and Jeff Neill, medical consultant Dr. David Hepburn, and music therapist Carolyn Hoekstra.

The organization's mission it to provide free, interactive music by local musicians to community members of all ages with special needs.

Trigg is grateful for the support received from all the participating musicians - with the organization overall, as well as with past and present benefits.

"Nobody has said no to me to do any one of these shows," he says.

For more information, visit The Mighty Hughs Foundation on Facebook.

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