When local rock pianist and LGBTQ+ advocate Curtis Labelle leaves Red Deer for Ontario, he will be leaving some personal mementoes behind.
His glittery blue stage costume, fur-trimmed cloak, touring cases and purple baby grand piano will remain in the collection of the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery — while some of Labelle’s personal documents and photos will be in the possession of the Red Deer Archives.
Labelle, who’s moving east with his husband Jared at the end of June, was recently contacted by the archives and museum to see if there were any personal possessions he wanted his hometown to keep for posterity.
Kim Verrier, the museum’s exhibits co-ordinator, said Labelle has lived in Red Deer since the age of three and has made many positive contributions to the community.
He has not only been been a booster for the local arts scene but has advocated for persons with developmental disabilities through working and volunteering at The Hub.
Labelle was also a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights — most visibly during his recent cross-country Pride Tour to Ontario and back.
His story is woven into Red Deer’s history, so Verrier said the museum, wants to hold on to a few of Labelle’s personal items to help fill out its collection of artifacts from the local music scene.
Just as the museum’s visual arts collection is expanding, staff now want to do the same with local performing arts holdings, she explained.
Along with the Red Deer museum’s dated performance costumes from the now defunct Red Deer group The Waska-Sues, will hang Labelle’s sequined, lapel-ed jacket and very heavy, lavish cape — both worn on various stages as the singer/songwriter performed his original rock piano tunes and covers.
And after Labelle wraps up one last Red Deer show on June 23 at the Scott Block Theatre with opening band The Dillmans, he also plans to donate his purple touring baby grand piano with collapsible legs. It will be put on museum display later this summer.
Labelle said feels honoured to be asked to donate some artifacts that will become part of Red Deer’s historic record.
Although he will miss this city and his Red Deer friends — Labelle said Red Deer will always feel like home — he’s looking forward to starting a new phase of his life and career in Ontario by inking a contract to entertain on a cruise ship.