Christian Klassen hits Kanata, Ontario.

By Tony Copple
CHRI-FM 99.1 had been advertising it regularly, but I didn't know the acts billed to appear: Deborah Klassen, with special guest Nancy Beaudette August 14, 1997 in Kanata! I knew the new Kanata Wesleyan church, facing the Corel Centre across the Queensway would be a grand concert venue ever since Pastor Steve Elliot proudly showed me round a couple of months ago before their grand opening. So I decided to turn up to one of the first ever Christian hit music concerts in Kanata. After all it was free, with a freewill offering in support of CHRI, presented by Pathway Sound Productions and Collage Music.

Well, am I glad I went! This was no amateur show. From the first notes beautifully sung in three-part harmony by Nancy Beaudette with her group of musicians and singers, (which the acoustic of the church delivered faithfully to our ears) the appreciative and large audience realized we had lucked in. And as Nancy began to introduce her songs and tell us of her background, faith became the powerful link as each beautiful song was delivered and appreciated. These were people just like us, but with two key differences: greatly talented as musicians, and well able to communicate their strong faith. At the end of the supporting act's hour, there was a spontaneous standing ovation, a feat I doubt has occurred yet in the venue over the road.

The interval gave us a chance to meet the staff of CHRI. Robert Du Broy is a man with a mission, and has a first class team. Business Development Manager David Appleby told us of the needs of the station for prayer and money, in that order. I certainly pray that they get both, since I've become a dedicated listener since Easter when they started, and the music just keeps improving, or so it seems. What's happening is, we are being introduced to a whole new genre. This music is evolving right now, creating a new movement based on the power of good music and faith-filled lyrics to strengthen us in Christ. My gut feeling is that this is indeed happening in Ottawa, and CHRI is the catalyst. Bob Du Broy wants to see it repeated across Canada.

Then came Deborah Klassen. From the first unaccompanied phrase we knew this was really special, and that the best wine was indeed kept for last.

She looked in her mid 20's and beautiful. Dressed in sheer black, with jet hair and a so warm smile, she fully concentrated our minds on her message. Her movements, based on signing, were those of a dancer, and very supportive of the material. And then she spoke and told her story, and that of her son Ryan, recovered form cancer at 20 (so mum's nearly 40!). They live in Trenton. I now realised that this was not only a marvellous a singer but more than that: a true evangelist with a powerful way of showing us that God loves us and takes pleasure in knowing every one of us. The music is her medium, and she's a very talented interpreter of well-chosen songs. The performance, like Nancy's who prepared her way before, was an inspired statement of faith and love. She sang for 90 minutes and it passed in a flash. Her enthusiastic standing ovation ran several minutes. This from Kanata people! You should have been there, and if you knew about the concert and didn't come, you should rightly feel deprived!

I spoke briefly to her afterwards. Often, a strong stage delivery does not survive 1 on 1. Deborah was warmth and sincerity itself, the product of a life with many tough times, and with strong faith as her guide. If you ever read this, Deborah, I'm the one who told you I hadn't heard of you till a week before. I'm putting that right.

Post script. In the days that followed the concert, I have listened many times to her tape "Faithful and True" containing many of the songs she sang. It's a treasure, and my respect for her as a musician rises with every playing. Remember the name. She's going to be famous.

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