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This article was published 6/12/2014 (2349 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sgt. David Grenon is passionate about singing. As a voice in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Band, Grenon has performed for audiences around the world.
He wasn't always confident in his singing ability, though.
Growing up in Chibougamau, a town in central Quebec, Grenon played the piano, saxophone and trumpet. He enjoyed singing, but was too shy to take centre stage.
That changed in 1999 when he studied music in university and a professor heard him sing. The professor suggested Grenon switch his focus from the saxophone to voice, which he did.
"There's no gap between you and the audience -- there's only you and your soul out there," Grenon, 33, said of singing. "It was hard for me to get past that coming from a small community in Quebec. When I finally found a teacher in Quebec City who actually taught me to believe in myself, then I kept holding onto that and it just made me grow immensely."
Winnipeggers have the opportunity to hear Grenon sing at the RCAF Band's concert on Monday at the 17 Wing Theatre (680 Whytewold St.). The band will perform two hours of Christmas music. Proceeds go to United Way.
The RCAF Band is made up of 35 professional musicians who perform in a variety of groups and ensembles. Monday's concert will feature Jet Stream, a 20-piece ensemble that plays a diverse repertoire including rock, pop, country, R&B, funk and disco.
"We selected Christmas tunes we like, but also tunes that are totally different from one to the other to make a variety show that will please everyone," Grenon said.
Created in the 1940s, the RCAF Band provides musical support to the Canadian Forces, all levels of government and a variety of public functions.
The Winnipeg concert will mark the group's return to the city after a short tour through northwestern Ontario that included performances in Dryden and Fort Frances.
As part of its efforts to do good in the community, the band is giving money raised at each concert to United Way.
Sandra Oakley, chairwoman of United Way's 2014 fundraising campaign, said she appreciates the support.
"These funds will go to help the 108 agency partners that United Way supports," Oakley said. "That will continue to help kids be all they can be, help people move from poverty to possibility and help build healthier and safer neighbourhoods in Winnipeg."
Grenon that since he joined in 2008, the RCAF Band has performed in Europe three times. They have also played for audiences in Las Vegas, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., as well as Seoul, Korea and Trinidad and Tobago.
No matter where they perform, the best part is connecting with audiences.
"To see their faces and hear their comments after a show, and to realize we're doing a good job representing the Canadian Armed Forces to the public, is our greatest reward," Grenon said.
Tickets for Monday's concert are available at the 17 Wing Theatre and at United Way Winnipeg (580 Main St.). Tickets are $10 each and $5 for children 12 and under.
Families of up to five can get attend the concert for $20, and anyone can get a $5 rebate if they donate a coat to United Way's Koats for Kids initiative.
"We're really excited to have the opportunity to perform for friends and family and the whole community of Winnipeg," Grenon said.