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Singer-songwriter John Wort Hannam honours friend with ALS fund-raiser

John Wort Hannam

Fort Macleod singer-songwriter John Wort Hannam (right) with his childhood friend Ken Rouleau. The music and arts night ‘Songs For Ken’ will raise money for the ALS Society of Alberta.

Fort Macleod singer-songwriter John Wort Hannam will pay tribute Saturday, Feb. 14 to a childhood friend who died from ALS.
“Songs For Ken” at 7:30 p.m. at the Empress Theatre is a tribute to Rouleau and also a fund-raiser for the ALS Society of Alberta.
ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed.
According to the ALS Society, every day two or three Canadians die of the disease.
“Songs For Ken” is an evening of both music and art.
Joining the Juno Award-nominated Wort Hannam on stage are musicians Leeroy Stagger, Brooke Wylie, Dave McCann, Karla Adolphe, and Amy Thiessen.
High River visual artists Annie Froese and Tyrrell Clark will paint on stage during the concert and their work as well as other donated pieces of art will be auctioned that night.
CKUA Radio announcer Allison Brock will host the event, with all proceeds going to the ALS Society.
Wort Hannan spoke of the special relationship he enjoyed with Rouleau, who died of ALS in April 2012.
“When I was eight years old my family immigrated to Calgary from the UK,” Wort Hannam recalled. “The first kid I met in the neighbourhood was Ken. We were the same age and became instant buddies. We were inseparable growing up and as tight as a couple schoolboy chums could be. We moved out together, went to university together, were best men at each other’s weddings and continued to be best friends through adulthood.”
“I can’t begin to think about how many hours we spent goofing off, playing street hockey, chasing girls, drinking slurpees, raiding each others dad’s liquor cabinets, learning to drive, listening to music and just plain growing up.”
Rouleau made a lasting impression on Wort Hannam.
“To say Ken was a great friend is an understatement,” Wort Hannam said. “Ken was a compassionate, smart, thoughtful, and loving person and was a huge influence on the person I strive to be. He taught me to give people the benefit of the doubt, to respect everyone regardless of their perceived status, to stand up for what you truly believe, to always question authority, and that love, and only love, can change the world.”
Wort Hannam wrote the song Beautiful Friend on his fifth CD Nothing At All for his friend following the ALS diagnosis.
Wort Hannam noted that in his final letter Rouleau wrote: “Thanks for the journey Universe! Best gift God ever gave me; it came with the love and life together with all of you my friends, my family.”
Tickets for Songs For Ken are available at the Empress Theatre at 403-553-4404 or www.empresstheatre.ab.ca.

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