“I still believe in love, yeah you know I still believe in love…yes, I do, just not with you…” I Still Believe In Love by Jacksoul
It was truly a jolt to my soul when I read Haydain Neale of Jacksoul passed last week on Sunday, November 22nd. What really struck me was Haydain was involved in a horrible accident in 2007, where he was hit by a car while on his scooter. He was in a coma for quite a while, but awoke and worked hard during his rehabilitation. To hear he was taken away by (lung) cancer – a prevalent disease undoubtedly taking so many away too soon, had me speechless.
The above quote happens to come from one of the most recognizable songs played on Canadian radio. I always remember hearing this song morning, noon and night. Turning on the radio at work at 7:45 AM, would guarantee you a run in with that entertaining, lively and soulful ditty. Even if you didn’t consume your morning dose of java or tea, believe you would be snapping your fingers and tapping your feet to “Still Believe In Love.” Haydain Neale was the lead in Jacksoul, the Juno Award-winning soul group. Even though “Still Believe In Love” and “Can’t Stop,” are well known, there are so many more songs and many more facets to the band. Being the recipient of a SOCAN Award, Juno Award and a Canadian Urban Music Award is something to celebrate. Especially in the very small soul community that we do have in Toronto – actually Canada, period. And this man and his band accomplished that and more.
I had the pleasure of meeting Haydain twice, during my travelled musical path. Once was during the annual Harry Jerome Awards gala and the other was for an interview that I was to conduct for a magazine. On both occasions, he was quite down to earth and his sense of humour actually rivalled mine…lol (read his mini-bio on Jacksoul’s MySpace page for a little chuckle). He was the cool cat, the epitome of coolness if you will. Very laid back and just, well – chill. At the Harry Jerome Awards gala, Haydain and my brother happened to be wearing an outfit that was so identical, it was hilarious. Both had locs, wore black pants (from what I can remember), a dark blackberry coloured tie, a gunmetal grey button-down shirt and a killer smile that went on for days. Just priceless. I still have the picture at home. Moments like that, even though it was so little and so long ago, make me smile. And the fact that he remembered me later after our initial meeting, was the icing on the cake.
The last time I saw Haydain was while Jacksoul opened for India.Arie in 2006. I wasn’t able to make it backstage to see him, but the acoustic show was amazing. When true talent is exposed, it undoubtedly comes from within. It’s not forced, it just flows and blankets the recipient like your favourite comforter on a frigid day. That’s exactly what Jacksoul did with Haydain crooning anything from Sam Cooke, Radiohead or a Jacksoul track. I dislike the reality that we usually don’t pay attention to our greats until they are gone. Yet, on the other hand, the saying ‘better late than never’ still rings true. I have always enjoyed Jacksoul’s contributions to the Canadian music scene and would like to share a couple of outlets with you, so you too can get familiar and enjoyable. If you are not up on Jacksoul, here are some links to guide you:
Before Haydain passed, the group was working on and had finished their new album SOULmate, which will be released on December 1st, 2009. Next Monday, December 7th, a benefit spectacular entitled I Can’t Stop Loving You will take place in Toronto, celebrating the life and gift of Haydain Neale. Featured guests include Nelly Furtado, K-os, Keshia Chante and others. For more information, check here. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE HAYDAIN NEALE FAMILY TRUST
I chose the above quote because it still makes me laugh to this day. And that is the way I remember Haydain – a fun, humorous and outgoing guy. I didn’t ‘know’ him, but the interactions that I did have with Mr. Haydain Neale will forever remain memorable.
RIP Haydain Neale