Drawn by the incredible scenery and childhood dream of wanting to live in the snow, Jamie Serafi and his husband moved to Calgary from the UK looking for a better quality of life. Now almost 6 years later, residing in the community of Evanston, this professional musician, composer, and arranger has made this City his home and is dedicated to uniting the community through the power of music.
His infused mix of an adult rock-pop choir concept called ‘Cool Choir’ has over six locations in the city and is designed to help connect everybody in the room to sing regardless of their individual experience. While this has been quite successful and popular amongst many Calgarians, the choirs have taken a hit due to the pandemic. The hope for Jamie is to rebuild these unifying experiences and at a time when many people face the lack of community, social interaction and live music that has decimated mental health.
We sat down with Jamie to discover his unique relationship with the local community. Take a read below!
What do you love about Calgary?
“The sense of community in Calgary is on another level! It’s inherently part of being a Canadian to be actively involved in helping others through volunteering. The city goes really crazy in the best possible way throughout the year when it comes to helping others (Calgary food bank donations, neighbourhood cleanups, helping the homeless, etc). I just think it’s incredible, humbling and so very inspirational! I also love seeing multicultural people intermixing, especially families. Everybody is welcomed and integrated here – no matter where you come from – and I don’t believe that is necessarily the case in most cities around the world! That’s what makes Calgary so unbelievably special – you can be who you like, bring your own cultures, ways of doing things, language – and still be accepted!”
How are you involved in your local community?
“I’m involved mostly through music. I run Cool Choir in three different Calgary communities. I meet hundreds of people weekly and bring them together through the power of singing – there is no feeling like it. A sea of cultures, standing in a room singing together – so deeply unified by music – a universal language. I see how being part of a choir-like mine completely transforms people’s levels of joy and happiness while manifesting life-long friendships that go on to exist in beautiful ways outside of the choir as well. I’m so proud that people take so much MORE than just the singing and music – and that is what truly epitomizes my involvement in the community for me.”
Have you received support from your community?
“20 months ago, my mother passed away from cancer in the UK and after coming back to Canada, Covid hit. I was totally bereft of grief. I posted in my Evanston community Facebook group looking to connect with others who were grieving and there was an overwhelming level of love and support. People reached out to me in ways I never imagined. It was truly heartwarming and comforting. I also received so much love and support too from my Cool Choir community as well. The choir members donated towards a memorial bench for my Mum – which now sits in my garden as a quiet, reflective place to sit and talk to her in spirit on the difficult days. I truly have been supported by the community and I am forever grateful – and so I’m always sure to give back in equal abundance when opportunities allow.”
What do you think unites us as Calgarians?
“Before I moved to Canada, I was always aware of how proud Canadians were of their country and heritage. When I moved here this was evident every day – and still is. As I look back on the events that unite this city both good and difficult I see that we have a fairly recent history – but nevertheless a rich one. I believe we are united by this sense of pride, belonging, and openness to be who we want to be without judgement. We’re united by our diversity on all levels.”
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