Shawn Desman feeling Alive and on top of his game

Shawn Desman brings his new album ALIVE to the Kelowna Community Theatre on Feb. 24 - contributed
Shawn Desman brings his new album ALIVE to the Kelowna Community Theatre on Feb. 24
— image credit: contributed

It’s somewhat difficult to picture the Shawn Desman as a nine-year-old Portuguese Michael Jackson wannabe punching out New Kids on the Block tunes.

Most of us have the affable, Canadian R&B singer pegged as one who, at the very least, envisions himself a cool cat-type who wouldn’t be caught boasting about the time he made the popular crowd in grade school.

But he’s quick to cop to his humble beginnings in an interview, saying it was a Grade 2 talent competition that planted the seed for his career in music. And it’s an impressive career with show biz elements, production credits, starring roles in hit videos, and a grounding in dance that just won’t quit.

His own track also helped drag his little brother, Danny Fernandes, into the industry.

“My parents, neither of them were in music. My mom’s father was  a little bit of a wedding singer, but the stuff that I remember about growing up would be my dad setting up the video camera, and us dancing to Billie Jean. I think my parents kind of knew that I was going to do something like this,” he said. “They did put me in dance lessons.”

Fresh off an epic album success story, dubbed Fresh, which snagged him three gold singles, one platinum, and Video of the Year at the Much Music Video Awards, Desman released another new album and a music-themed movie last week, both called ALIVE.

The movie is a scripted piece about a young woman from Fergus, Ontario who decides to leave small town life to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer in the city.

“We were just thinking how do we get people engaged and get music to them that’s different than just putting out music videos?” Desman said of the decision to script a film off his album.

The idea wasn’t fully minted before he approached MuchMusic, he admits, but the network nevertheless jumped on board and the result takes him  from dancer, singer and actor to film producer.

ALIVE, Desman says, is all about inspiring others, in no small part because it comes on the heels of one of his most successful ventures.

“I was in a good place when I was making it,” he said. “I was travelling, doing shows, writing.”

From SOCAN to the Junos to the Much Music Video Awards, he’s pulled down the major accolades in the business and still loves what he does enough to keep his scheduled packed.

Desman, a stage name he created from his childhood nickname Dez Man, says that for all the success, he knows he won’t be on top forever.

And when the singing and dancing and touring and producing videos and movies eventually becomes more than he is up for, he says he’ll still be writing music, and he’ll have a very good source of inspiration to draw on.

A large part of Desman’s life at the moment involves working with brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger for Free The Children, performing at their We Day celebrations and trying to inspire kids to make a difference.

Next on the roster is the first We Day to be staged in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, then he will be back in Ottawa for the national We Day, providing heart-pumping beats to the kids psyched to challenge themselves.

And when he needs a little inspirational pickup himself, he says he can always look back at MJ.

He has accumulated dolls, pictures, books, anything he can get his hands on to remind him of his idol and said he can’t think of anyone who has done the music industry quite like Jackson.

As for whether he will be working with his brother again—the pair managed to collaborate on his last album—he wouldn’t mind, but knows it would be a feat.

“The difficult thing is finding the right song for two guys to sing about,” he said. “I think right now we’re content doing our own thing.”

Shawn Desman plays the Kelowna Community Theatre, Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through KeyNote Productions.

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