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Piano man Curtis Labelle bows out of Red Deer to move to Ontario

Playing rock piano in a country/folk music hub isn’t the best fit, he says
Rock pianist Curtis Labelle is moving from Red Deer to Ontario in June. (Contributed photo.)

Red Deer’s talented piano man Curtis Labelle has discovered new family ties and career opportunities in Eastern Canada.

With excitement and some bittersweet feelings, he and his husband Jared will be leaving Alberta for Ontario in June.

“Red Deer’s always been home. That’s a part I’m going to miss the most,” said Labelle. “Now we will be uprooting and we are free-birds until we find a new home…”

He’s moving east to be closer to his manager, to international talent agents, and some new-found relatives he recently discovered from Gatineau, Que.

“They’ve embraced Jared and me” after showing up in Ottawa last year to see him perform on his cross-country tour, said Labelle.

Since both of his parents have now passed away, Labelle wants to strengthen ties with these Quebec relatives, as well as to scout out new performance opportunities — including on cruise ships that sail out of the U.K.

Although attached to central Alberta, the rock pianist has come to feel “who I am, and what I do” are not the best fit in an area that embraces country, folk and roots music, as well as some pop. Finding enough venues for his piano rock tunes in Western Canada has at times been a slog, he admitted.

The soon-to-be 40-year-old believes it’s time to start a new life chapter in a different place.

Jared, who’s a massage therapist, feels he can easily relocate, said Labelle — although the couple haven’t yet settled on their new community.

From directing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and other musicals to performing his original rock piano tunes at local bars, and teaching music at The Hub, Labelle has made big contributions to the local arts scene.

He has also become an “ambassador” for Central Alberta Pride.

“I’ve decided that I’ve done so much for the community, and the community has done so much for me, it’s been a beautiful experience…” said the Red Deer-raised musician.

He will miss his many supportive friends, “but I will always have them in my heart. ‘Rise above together and fall alone as one,”’ he added, quoting lyrics from his original tune, Rise Above.

“Sometimes you have to leave to become successful… and be open to the possibilities…”

He hopes to return to Red Deer every few years to perform for local friends and fans.

Meanwhile, there’s at least one more chance to see Labelle play in Red Deer: Central Alberta Pride is presenting Labelle’s Farewell Solo Concert on March 18 at the Baymont Inn and Suites. Tickets are through Eventbrite.

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