By: Deb Robert
Not all injuries are visible. Those on the frontlines – our wounded warriors – need to know there’s help at hand and, sometimes, it comes in a song.
Chris Earl and Graham Trude are singing their hearts out, in part as an SOS on behalf of soldiers and first responders who experience PTSD, addictions, and emotional traumas. They are the Singing Soldiers, a duo who share songs, humour and healing, on and off the stage.
On a concert tour through Ontario, the country-rock musicians perform in Georgina at the Stephen Leacock Theatre on November 8th. Their musical storytelling deals with deeply personal “non-fiction,” relaying their real-world experiences, says Trude. Their latest release, “Frontline Soldiers,” is a salute to soldiers and first responders.
Retired from the military, the Collingwood resident serves as a police officer in Orangeville. As a veteran of Afghanistan, Trude found it a desolate, dangerous place, “a picture out of the bible” with a desert landscape of “beige mud huts.” Yet he never felt far from home. “Over there felt like home. I had my brothers and sisters with me. Camaraderie is so important.” Trude says he felt more alone returning to Canada, suffering from Complex PTSD following his deployment.
Trude found great solace in music. His song “Seen What I’ve Seen” is an intimate expression of his struggles with PTSD. “Music is a way for me to reach out and say I’m going through this too. I’m not ashamed. There’s only so much people can take.”
Witnessing mental illness in family members, Earl believes “PTSD lends itself to addiction.” A 30-year music veteran, Earl joined the military at age 44 and serves as an aircraft technician at Camp Borden. It was a tumultuous move that uprooted his family and inspired “This Old House,” a song reflecting the nomadic life of the service and the sacrifices made. “Moving is tough, especially going months overseas and having to say goodbye.”
Offering a show that is “organic, raw, and real,” Singing Soldiers evoke an intense reaction from fellow soldiers, veterans, and families. “We tell powerful stories that resemblance their life. It’s why they connect with us. It’s more of a message, a guide for hope and healing,” says Earl.
Their impact continues after the curtain falls, with Trude pouring over fan messages requesting help for loved ones carrying emotional burdens. “They’ve seen what they can’t un-see. Everybody’s cup is a different size. For some, it takes a lot before they reach full level, while some reach it very quickly. You can’t be judged by that.”
Providing trauma healing through music therapy is the mission of their ASIF (A Song is Forever) Foundation, which provides acoustic guitars for those dealing with Operational Stress Injuries and mental health issues. “It’s finding a different way to heal,” says Trude. “I put my emotions in song, and now I’m teaching others to do it.”
Expect an uplifting concert. “There’s a common misconception that we’re singing sad stuff, but actually we’re very upbeat and having a real good time,” says Earl. “Being sad all day defeats the purpose of getting better.”
To purchase tickets contact the box office at 905-476-0193 or purchase online