Red Deer singer/songwriter Curtis Labelle plans to celebrate the local LGBTQ+ community on a massive Canadian tour.
The first leg of his High on Pride Tour 2022 will involve performances in five provinces — from Alberta to Quebec — this spring.
The highlight will be headlining in May at the The Painted Lady Saloon Toronto — a venue that’s hosted a plethora of iconic Canadian acts, including Whitehorse, The Trews, The Mahones, Mary Margaret O’Hara and Ron Sexsmith.
After taking a summer break, Labelle said he plans to embark on the second leg of the tour, B.C. and the Yukon, in September and October.
He admitted the East Coast would be too financially challenging to do this time out as he’s hauling his purple baby grand piano, along with three band members and a manager.
But Labelle does plan to collect donations for the Central Alberta Pride Society along the cross-country routes he is taking.
The performer has spoken about being bullied as a youth for being different — “a boy who played the piano.” He’s now happily married to a same-sex husband. He wants other gay young people to feel good about who they are, and believes support is one of the society’s most important roles.
The Central Alberta Pride Society also holds special events, and raises awareness through literature and presentations.
“Pride does not mean being arrogant,” said Labelle. “It means I am very proud of my community, and it means you are proud of yourself for stepping up, coming out, owning your pride…”
On Friday, the singer and pianist will release the new single On the Gun, to streaming services. The emotional rock song will be one of 20 original tunes he will be performing across Western and Central Canada.
The lyrics are about a couple — maybe romantic, and maybe platonic — who have reached a critical impasse in their relationship. Their choice is to “pull the trigger” and walk away from each other, or commit to making it work, said Labelle, who wrote the metaphoric lyrics: “Until you walk away, there’s no where to run (until ) you pull the trigger on the gun…”
Innisfail brewery Field and Forge, in partnership with Labelle, has created a new label for their new Light Golden Ale that contains lyrics and artwork from his single. It also contains a QR code that when scanned will take people to one of the streaming services for the song.
Labelle said a can of the made-in-Innisfail ale will be signed by a dozens of people during his tour. It will ultimately be sold to the highest bidder, with proceeds going to the Central Alberta Pride Society.
Although the local performer has stayed busy learning more about various aspects of the music business during the pandemic shutdown, he’s very excited at the prospect of going back before live audiences.
While the pandemic is unpredictable, he’s determined to stay optimistic about his chances of finishing the tour. “I’m sending out good thoughts out to the universe and I believe it will be a success…”
Red Deer fans can catch his only local shows at Cheers Pub on May 27 and 28.