Country Junkie Singer Gord Bamford Writes Big Cheques For Sick Kids
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Gord Bamford’s forthcoming album is called Country Junkie, but the acclaimed country singer-songwriter is a charitable junkie as well. He may project the image of a honky-tonking good ol’ boy but deep down he’s a softie with a special place for children.
Just before collecting five new Canadian Country Music Awards over the weekend to add to his already crowded mantel, he cut a $10,000 cheque to Edmonton, Alta.’s Stollery Children's Hospital supporting its music therapy program which Bamford tells Samaritanmag has brought lessons and instruments to ill children receiving care at the facility since 2011.
That $10,000 was drawn from the Gord Bamford Charitable Foundation which, since inception its in 2008, has raised $1.3 million for various children’s charities including Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe, Alta. and several children’s hospitals across Canada.
Much of Foundation money can be traced to Bamford’s Annual Charity Golf Classic which last August generated $355,000, exceeding its goal of $300,000 while ensuring the 37-year-old Australian-born, Lacombe, AB-based musician fulfils his vision to make things a little easier for the next generation.
“Ninety percent of the money we raise goes to youth and to children and when I learned of the music therapy program at the hospital, it just made so much sense for us to support,” he says, confirming that he serves as a director on his Foundation’s board between stints touring and recording.
Country Junkie, which drops October 8 via Sony Music Canada, is his sixth studio album. On release day he’ll kick off a coast-to-coast Canadian tour in Victoria, BC, opening for country superstar Reba McEntire, ending Oct. 27 in Kingston, Ont. after three dates in the East Coast.
Bamford continues: “We plan to support a similar music therapy program in Calgary, so we’re going to be a big part of that for years to come. I know first-hand about the power of music and I’ve seen how it can lift the spirits of kids.
“How it works is: they bring in a lady that has music education and is great with the kids and they all basically play music and sing songs. That lets the kids get away from their problems and have some fun, whether it’s shaking a tambourine or beating on a drum.”
Asked why his focus is mainly children, Bamford says, “Over the past 13 years my life has really changed; I’ve got an awesome wife and we have three beautiful children and what’s most important in my life is different now.
“I love kids, I love being around them and they give me positive energy. They’re the next generation of doctors, lawyers, country singers and sports stars. To support them in whatever endeavour they chose is very important to me.”
According to Bamford, the success of the Gord Bamford Charitable Foundation is twofold: the charities he supports are easy sells to corporate sponsors and golfers backing the Annual Charity Golf Classic, which functions as the Foundation’s key fundraising initiative. And musicians offer their support in droves at the pre-golf Gala event.
This year, Michelle Wright, Aaron Pritchett, Deric Ruttan, Beverley Mahood, Patricia Conroy and Tera Lee were among the performers at the Gala.
That the Foundation boasts an excellent board and has a clear mission – “supporting kids and communities across Canada,” according to its website – makes the whole enterprise that much easier, Bamford says.
“I have always surrounded myself with great people and the Foundation is no different. I don’t have a lot of extra time to attend all the meetings but I try and make as many as I can. We have a great board of directors who decide where the money goes. They know what my passion is and where I’d like to see investment and it gets steered in the right direction.
“At the end of the day I don’t make the decisions on that stuff; I just let everybody know where I’d like to see the money go. It’s unfortunate we can’t help everyone who requests money but we definitely look at everything to make sure when a decision is made it goes to the right areas.
“As for the golf charity, well, I am a sports fanatic but a golf hack,” he laughs. “I just like to have fun. When it started, I was afraid nobody would show up. But that first year I think we raised $75,000.
“The night before the tournaments we have a gala and I get great support from my singer-songwriter peers who come and perform and get behind something I am pretty proud of. It’s such a unique event and people just want to be a part of it. And I think we get great support because people like where the funding is going.
“It’s been surreal from where it’s started to where it’s at and how much money gets raised every year. I mean, $355,000 is a massive amount of money to be raised in a small community. It’s a real community effort.”
* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.