I just want to write a simple note of personal thanks to Haydain Neale, frontman for jacksoul and a great supporter of songwriters through SAC and other endeavours. I posted in the past about Haydain’s participation in the SAC Date With A Demo nights (see here and here) and the amazing night that saw him perform a songwriting circle with other songwriters just weeks before the tragic scooter accident that sidelined him until his sorrowful passing this past week from lung cancer at 39. The CP story follows:
TORONTO — Jacksoul frontman Haydain Neale was remembered as an “amazing individual” and a “joyful presence” as stunned colleagues learned of his death from cancer on Monday.
Neale, the frontman for the Juno Award-winning group, died Sunday at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto at age 39, after a seven-month battle with lung cancer, the family said in a release Monday.
Neale had also been recovering from serious injuries after being hit by a car while driving his Vespa motor scooter in Toronto on Aug. 3, 2007.
His friends and fellow musicians were shocked by the news, particularly since many of them thought that he was over the worst part of his illness and was recovering.
“That guy just exuded what it is to be a really cool, down to earth, just amazing individual,” Toronto hip-hop MC Kardinal Offishall told The Canadian Press backstage at the SOCAN awards on Monday.
“Wow. Canada really lost something special.”
Family members and friends were by his side when he died.
“Through all these challenges, Haydain’s sense of humour and love of music were ever-present,” his wife Michaela said in the statement.
He constantly brightened the room with his singing and his smile. His joyful presence and beautiful voice will be missed by us all.”
Jacksoul was to release “SOULmate,” on Dec. 1 with 10 new tracks, their first album since the accident.
The first single, “Lonesome Highway,” was co-produced and co-written by Neale, and touches on his recovery, supported by his wife, daughter Yasmin and numerous others.
Former Treble Charger frontman Greg Nori considered Neale a close friend since the two men worked side by side in studio space at the Sony offices.
“This guy was an extremely, extremely generous person,” Nori said backstage at the SOCAN event. “(He) was always 120 per cent to me, as an individual, he really was. I always had a really great friendship with him and we had a great respect for each other.
“I never saw the guy get mad. He only had positive energy about him. That’s my recollection of him. Never, ever did I see any kind of jealousy out of him, or negativity.”
Kardinal Offishall, likewise, said Neale was a special human being.
“People who never had the chance to meet him were able to see that not just through his music, but just in how he carried himself, just the type of dude that he was,” said the rapper, who says he had checked in on Neale’s status by sending a text message to a mutual friend just days before his death.
Jacksoul’s previous hits include “Can’t Stop” and “Still Believe in Love.”
Neale was known for his soulful, elastic croon, for a voice that was faithfully smooth but organic and expressive.
“Hopefully his music will live on,” said Hedley guitarist Dave Rosin. That’s all any artist can hope. … It’s a sad thing.”
Nori, meanwhile, praised Neale’s integrity, versatility and commitment to his artistic ideals.
“I think he was always tackling something that wasn’t the flavour of the moment,” Nori said. “I think it was always a struggle to him because it wasn’t flavour of the moment, and it didn’t sell as much.
“He always had the ability to go do that if he wanted to, but he stuck to his guns and stayed with what he knew was in his heart, and I commend him for that.”
An interment with a private family gathering will take place later this week.
All proceeds from the sale of “SOULmate” will go to the Haydain Neale Family Trust.
The Muse is with you Haydain… Rest peacefully, watch over your family and make music forever…