Sound of Freedom is an innovative collaboration between the musicians of the Canadian Forces and civilian singers and songwriters.
After 5 years in London, UK, Alexandria Beck has returned to her native country to contribute to Sound of Freedom. The eight years she served in the Canadian Army Reserve as a member of a military band provided her with a challenging and rewarding experience, and a foundation for launching her professional career as an international performing artist.
Joined by fellow vocal artists Alan Frew, Luke McMaster, Annie Villeneuve and Mark Masri, this album is not only a unique tribute to Canada’s military community, but offers something for all Canadians.
International performing artist Alexandria Beck began as a professional musician at age 16. A veteran of the Canadian Forces, she was one of the youngest recruits to ever serve in a Canadian Forces Reserve Band. During her time as a clarinetist with the Army, Beck discovered her singing voice, leading her to obtain a Bachelor of Music in Opera from the University of British Columbia. Alexandria relocated to Europe and launched her commercial Opera career at Harrods, London's premier luxury department store, and released her first joint album, The Harrods Opera Collection, in 2008. She has been featured at many prestigious live events worldwide before audiences of up to 60,000 people at such events as the opening of the famous Harrods Winter Sale, Canada Day Celebrations in Trafalgar Square, China's Earthquake Appeal in Beijing, and other venues throughout Europe and the Middle East. She also performed at the opening of the first Vancouver 2010 Olympic venue, which aired live on CTV. Her past service as a Canadian Forces member and her family's military heritage, spanning three generations and four countries, has led to her involvement in a variety of Military related events and projects to raise awareness of the important role the Canadian military has played over time; Sound of Freedom is the latest such endeavor. Alexandria is currently working on new material for her solo debut album under the name 'ALI'.
Singer/songwriter Alan Frew is a five-time Juno Award winner, five-time Canadian Classic Award winner and Grammy nominee. As a songwriter, Alan has written numerous top ten songs including "Someday," "So Blind," "I'm Still Searching" and "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" a number of which have topped the charts. Recently, Alan wrote the 2010 Olympic Broadcast Theme entitled, 'I Believe', which has achieved Certified sales in excess of 4 x Platinum. As a solo performer and with his band, Glass Tiger, Alan has toured and performed some of the most enduring artists of our time, including Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Cheap Trick and Fleetwood Mac. He has also traveled extensively to perform for Canadian troops and their allies in Bosnia, Israel, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Annie Villeneuve is a French Canadian pop singer/songwriter. In 2003, she participated in the first season of the highly popular TV show, Star Académie, which brought her much exposure and popularity in Quebec. Her first album Quand Je Ferme les Yeux (2005) achieved certified Platinum sales of over 120,000 copies and spawned multiple #1 singles. Her 2009 self-titled follow up only added to her success, generating a variety of successful singles including BDS Billboard chart-topper, 'Ce Soir'. Annie also supports a number of social causes and is the spokesperson for the Leucan foundation, a Quebec organization that supports children with cancer, or leukemia. Additionally, she has participated in numerous charity telethons such as Opération Enfant Soleil, a foundation dedicated to providing support for the ongoing development of pediatric care in Quebec.
Luke McMaster was born in Brandon, Manitoba. During his final years of high school, he began pursuing his passion for music, teaching himself to play guitar and honing his skills as a songwriter and lyricist. After meeting Rob James during a recording session in 1997 and writing a song together, they decided to team up. Their debut album McMaster and James achieved Certified Gold sales in Canada. In 2003, Luke decided to take time off from performing to become a full time songwriter/producer. Since, he's lent his talents to a variety of film and television projects, the Canadian Idol Song Writing Camp, Instant Star, Song For Africa and Universal Music. Subsequent performing and writing engagements have included supporting the troops in Afghanistan as part of Team Canada 2010. Currently, Luke is preparing for the release of his latest album in early summer 2012.
Mark Masri's soulful tenor has delighted audiences across North America. Over time, the Toronto-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has graced the stage and recorded with such stars as Jim Brickman, Olivia Newton-John, Melinda Doolittle, Amy Sky, Jon Secada and, most recently, David 'The Hitman' Foster. His jaw-dropping range and remarkable stage presence have prompted some to describe his sound as 'Andrea Bocelli meets Luther Vandross'. Mark's latest EMI release, Intimo, presents a very intimate tribute to the most loved Italian love songs and film themes.
Originally born in Trinidad and Tobago, Warrant Officer Aldwin Albino immigrated to Canada and settled in Montreal, Quebec at the age of five. Raised in a family with diverse musical talents - both his father and uncle played keyboards - he learned to play the drums by age 11. Within the year, he was offered his first professional gig performing with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Although Ringling Brothers presented him with the option of full time employment - a chance to literally 'run away with the circus', his parents felt it would be best if 'Junior' finished school. Aldwin joined the Reserves at 16 and was recruited to the Canadian Forces music trade two years later.
Sgt. Mike Hall is a guitarist with the RCAF Band in Winnipeg and a veteran professional musician who spent the 80s with Toronto rockers, Killer Dwarfs. Hall was featured on four of the Dwarfs' albums and toured the world with global metal sensations such as Iron Maiden, Pantera, DIO, Skid Row and others. Hall later freelanced as a session player and sideman in the Toronto area before joining legendary platinum artists Helix for a few years and several Canadian tours. When the Canadian Forces Music Branch opted to expand their music program to include contemporary music, Hall auditioned and was offered a job in 2009. Sgt. Hall graduated from Basic Military Qualification In June 2010 and was immediately posted to the RCAF Band where he now plays a variety of pop, rock and jazz styles in various ensembles.
Warrant Officer Mike Manny was born in Toronto, Ontario and has been immersed in the world of music since the tender age of 4. A scholarship graduate of the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City, WO Manny joined his first band in the Canadian Forces in 2002 and has since performed extensively with the Forces worldwide. Mike is proud of his occupation as a musician in the Canadian Forces, which offers him both a rewarding musical career and the opportunity to work closely with others towards a common goal for our country. In addition to his day gig as keyboardist for the Royal Canadian Air Force Band - 17 Wing in Winnipeg, WO Manny is an avid amateur radio operator, an accomplished marksman and an experienced pilot. Currently, WO Manny volunteers in his spare time with the 170 'St. James' Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron in Winnipeg.
Warrant Officer Brayden Wise originally hails from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. He has performed internationally as a member of the Canadian Forces, and has played both double bass and electric bass on several critically acclaimed recordings. Brayden is currently a member of The Royal Canadian Artillery Band, based in Edmonton, where he resides with his wife, Charmaine, and their three children. He is an avid cyclist and hockey player, an average carpenter, and a poor golfer.