Deborah Davis has been singing professionally and creating musical shows and events since 1989.
Her children’s entertainment group Choonga Changa highlighted hundreds of events from the CNE in Toronto to private parties for Governors General and Prime Ministers.
As her own children grew up, Deborah’s shows targeted older children and family members of all ages.
This led to her creating and headlining the Ottawa International Jazz Festival’s Family Day in 1994, 1995 and 1997 featuring her show What is This Thing Called Jazz?
At the same time, Deborah performed and did volunteer work for the United Way, Our Kids Foundation, Partnership Against Poverty, Ronald McDonald House, the Canadian Cancer Society, National Child Day, and the CFRA Christmas Cheer radio broadcasts. Television broadcasts included the CHEO, Heart Institute and Easter Seals telethons. She also sang O Canada for many occasions including Ottawa Rough Rider football games.
Deborah’s community service efforts as an entertainer and producer during this period were recognized by awards from: the Rich Little Foundation, Variety Club, CHEO, The Our Kids Foundation, CJMJ (Majic100) Radio Stars Program Award, the City of Nepean ’s first Distinguished Service Award in Arts and Culture, and the City of Ottawa ’s Environmental Achievement Award.
The show Choonga Changa Celebrates Canada was a huge hit at Canada Day ceremonies and was performed thirty times at the CNE in Toronto and was the title of Deborah’s second children’s album.
In 2000, Deborah created and performed Satin Dolls with her band Segue to Jazz, a show portraying the life and times of some of the greatest women of American jazz. The show played to sold-out audiences in Ottawa at the Canadian Tulip Festival, the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage and, in adapted formats, has highlighted corporate and charitable events in Toronto as well as Ottawa. She later created a show called The Gift Of Jazz as a tribute to Black History Month.
Deborah’s broad experience creating and performing shows about Canada and about jazz started Deborah thinking about creating an ambitious new show about the history of music in Canada as one of Canada’s new millennium initiatives.
Choonga Changa had become so closely associated with young children’s entertainment (after hundreds of live performances and the production of two children’s albums) that she adopted a new name for her proposed millennial project: “Canadian Musical Odyssey\Odyssée Musicale Canadienne”.
This project became the show titled Canada Roars; A Musical Taste of our Canadian Heritage/Notre patrimoine canadien, une odyssée musicale, now the longest running bilingual concert show in Canada.
First performed in 2000, this artistically vibrant ninety-minute production celebrates and pays tribute to the history of music in Canada. It features fifty performers including musicians, lead and back-up singers, Aboriginal performers, contemporary, step, and highland dancers and actors. From time to time it has also featured real Canadian war veterans and RCMP officers in various roles.
Canada Roars has been seen by tens of thousands of students who have attended shows in Ottawa and Gatineau, as well as the general public at venues such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum, The Canadian Aviation Museum, Art theatres, and as an evening presentation for over 125,000 people on Parliament Hill for Canada Day.
Components of this show have been featured separately in various contexts such as our tribute to World War One performances for Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National Gallery of Canada, our interactive 1700’s fur trading post and our bicentennial commemoration of the birth of Sir John A Macdonald at Memorial Hall in Kingston.
The historical vignettes created either as part of the larger Canada Roars presentation or as stand-alone features, have enabled audiences to recognize Canada’s diverse and exceptional figures, places and accomplishments, enhanced knowledge and understanding of our shared history and values, and has provided opportunities for Canadians to participate in commemorative activities and celebrations.
Canada Roars portrays the history of music in Canada and the history of Canada through music in an entertaining way that audiences find not only educational, but also appealing, moving, memorable and inspirational.
The initial funding for creation of the show was a 1998 grant of $9,900 from the Government of Canada’s Millennium Fund.
The project grew into a fast paced, dynamic, and highly acclaimed, bilingual (and indeed multilingual), ninety-minute production featuring more than 100 pieces of music (mostly in overture, medley and excerpt style presentations), with almost as many costume changes for the vocalists, dancers, actors and musicians, and a 71-page teachers manual (available on-line in both English and French).
Deborah appreciates that it takes a team of dedicated professionals to make these projects successful and is quick to acknowledge the immense contributions of her entire team, particularly Peter Beaudoin, Musical Director and drummer, who has supported her visions from day one.
The show, its offshoots and the manual are the culmination of many years of development and networking. The ongoing project has been supported over the years by the Federal Government, The University of Ottawa’s Institute of Canadian Studies, The Canadian Musical Heritage Society at Carleton University, The City of Ottawa, SOCAN, TD Bank, Scholastic Canada, Yamaha Music, The Hudson’s Bay Foundation, The Musicians Association of Ottawa Hull, Parker Prins Lebano, Drache Aptowitzer, The Ottawa Carleton District School Board, The Ottawa Catholic School Board, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, Enviro Copies, e-PALS, A.K.A. Artists Management Ltd., Turtle Island Tourism Company, CARFAC, Wall Sound, The Nepean Creative Arts Centre, and many other arts organizations and volunteers.
In order to provide a broader base for funding a wide range of musical productions for students and the general public, Odyssey Showcase was created as a not for profit organization in 2004 and became a registered charity in 2007.
TD Bank has provided guidance and financial support as co-sponsor with Odyssey Showcase of countless presentations including Canada Roars and The Gift of Jazz.
More information about Odyssey Showcase is available at www.odysseyshowcase.org.