The CRC House Band
“I never thought people would enjoy listening to my stuff,” remarks Billy Rose, member and lead singer of Inspired Souls, CRC’s House Band.
“But I always dreamed that one day I’d have the opportunity to play and sing my own songs for other people.”
He started playing violin at age 8, guitar at age 10, and singing love songs at 18.
Billy describes his material as pop rock. About a quarter of the songs Inspired Souls performs are his original compositions.
Inspired Souls began in May 2010 under the leadership of Raymond Mallozzi, CRC’s Community Meal Coordinator, and is made up of participants, staff, and volunteers. Raymond describes it as “an opportunity to build community through music.”
They rehearse once a week at CRC.
“We came together because participants wanted to put their musical talent, energy, and passion into forming a band for community gigs and events. It started as an opportunity to have fun together and to play music in a non-judgemental and safe environment.”
But by jamming together they discovered that they also began to learn from each other and become better players. “I enjoy working with people, helping people along, and collaborating with people on my music,” smiles Billy.
It has given Billy greater confidence to play in public. “And it has enhanced my life by increasing my social skills.”
For Raymond, the joy of being involved with Inspired Souls has been the building of a social network of community members.
“Ray is the glue that keeps the band together. He reminds people of practice times and organizes the gigs,” Billy points out.
“I am just happy to be part of the band,” smiles Raymond. “I was kicked out of music class when I was in elementary school. But today I enjoy learning to sing and play the drums.”
Inspired Souls has played live many times. Their first gig was at Second Base Youth Shelter in December 2010. Since then, other performances have included: Sunday in the Park, political party gatherings, CRC Christmas Dinners, Riverdale Farmers Market performing weekly during the summer of 2011, St. Anthony’s Church Festival, St James Town Café, and ‘Last Fridays’ hosted by Regent Park Focus.
“We played over 30 gigs in 2011,” reports Raymond, “even though only two of them were paying.”
“In the future we’d like to get more paying gigs, and play at festivals. And I’d like to keep working with this core group who are committed, talented, and serious about their music.”
Raymond laughs when he recalls that “one of our original band members, Kevin, joked that since the band was made up of such a motley crew we should really be called ‘Squandered Opportunities’.”
“But,” he adds, “the band really has given people hope and has helped them move forward in their lives.”
As a group, they have been able to build up their self-confidence by practicing and creating music together. They have started recording some of their material so they’ll have something they can be proud of and reflect on later in life. And they have become friends.
And because of Inspired Souls, Billy has been able to realize a dream of playing and sharing his music in public.
You can hear the music of Billy (BB) Rose, by clicking on the links below:
By Bruce Voogd, March 2013