Kelita Still the Strong One
Submitted by Don Graham
Kelita Haverland, the pride of Claresholm, Alberta, is a timeless talent. Singer, songwriter, comedienne and public speaker, she does all of the above well; very well.
The road she has traveled to get to where she is has been a winding one, sometimes filled with sharp turns and obstacles that required maneuvering. But it is also what has made Kelita the woman she is today. The strong one.
Growing up on a ranch in Alberta, Kelita would often use the hayloft in the barn as her Carnegie Hall, her “big stage”, using the light that shone in from the yard as her spotlight. The joy she found in “performing” was the perfect escape from the traumas she was enduring up until her teen years with an abusive brother and an alcoholic father. Her brother eventually died of a heroin overdose and her father took his own life after years of threats. “As a young girl I would stand with my ear pressed hard against the door listening to my mother plead with my father not to take his own life. Then one day she didn’t have to plead with him anymore.”
Kelita’s musical road was paved early in her life. While in church in Calgary, singing in the choir, she was encouraged to keep singing by a lady named Dorothy. Dorothy’s last name was McGuire and she was a member of the world famous McGuire Sisters recording group famous for their songs ‘Sugartime’ and ‘Sincerely’.
The early years of Kelita’s career saw her on a path to stardom with accomplishments that included: five Juno award nominations (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy) CCMA’s (Canadian Country Music Association) Entertainer of the Year Nomination, CCMA’s Vista Rising Star of the Year Award, leading roles in Godspell, Toronto’s Bayview Playhouse and Bathurst Street Theatre, Gypsy at the Port Dover Lighthouse Festival, television appearances on The Tommy Hunter Show, Nashville Now, CMT and MuchMusic while she shared stages with such stars as k.d. Lang and Reba McEntire.
And then, with a huge record deal on Capitol Records in Nashville about to firm up, everything changed. The Capitol deal fell apart due to corporate restructuring, her thirteen year marriage was coming to an end and Kelita was involved in a near fatal car accident. These series of events would crush most people but Kelita used this as an opportunity to do some serious soul searching and re-evaluation of her life. “I was already not happy with the way it was all making me feel. I would look around at the lifestyle and people involved and think this isn’t who I am.”
Kelita started writing more inspirational and introspective songs and she collaborated with Canadian greats Michael Burgess and Susan Aglukark. Kelita and Susan co-wrote the hit song “Breaking Down” and “Kathy I” for Susan’s triple platinum album This Child.
While on tour Kelita met and married musician Gord Lemon who would become her producer and co-writer. The fruit of their first project was Kelita’s signature hit country song ‘The Strong One’. Together they have created and produced all of Kelita’s award winning Inspirational music CDs including Juno nominated “Naked Soul” and Canadian Gospel Music Association’s Album of the Year ‘Because of Love’. Inspired by her deep understanding of the hurt and pain associated with childhood trauma, Kelita has developed a passion for women, children and social justice. Over a period of several years, led by her dedication and humanitarian efforts, her critically acclaimed CD ‘Heavenly Night’ and initiative project raised not only awareness but $250,000 for the rehabilitation of young children rescued from child exploitation in Cambodia. Kelita has also contributed to the healing of childhood wounds for men and women around the globe through her award winning songs ‘Bella’ and ‘Deep Dark Secret’.
Kelita’s latest CD production on singer/songwriter styled ‘Heart of a Woman’ is a gem and shows Kelita at her emotional and artistic finest, featuring mostly just Kelita and her piano. “I’ve wanted to make this album for a long time and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”
From the opening cut ‘You Rewrote My Heart’ you are drawn in. ‘Deep Dark Secret’ shows the vulnerability associated with the truth. ‘The Strong One’ stripped down and unplugged is a look at the song the way it was written and is sung with honest emotion. ‘Who’s Gonna Love Me’ is a beautifully crafted song of found love and love lost. ‘Bella’ shows the warmth in Kelita’s voice while ‘Unusual Child’ is a family song set on the prairies with a distinct western Canada feel. ‘Soul Revival’ is little taste of Kelita’s Gospel/Funk side. ‘Goodbye April’, ‘In The Shade of the Willow Tree’ follow and Kelita lets us know she knows why the ‘Caged Bird’ sings. ‘Breakin’ Down’ leads up to the finale ‘Tears’. Does her heart know how to cry? An autobiographical ending to this fine collection of beautiful songs.
Kelita is an immensely talented singer, songwriter, speaker and comedienne. She is also an exceptional human being who uses her compassion and artistic verve to make sure the talent God gave her is not buried or hidden but is used to impact and touch the human spirit.
Kelita and her husband Gord Lemon make their home outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Together they have one grown son.
Get yourself a copy of Kelita’s new CD Heart of a Woman and treat your ears and heart to some beautiful emotionally and sonically crafted songs that help you to know one of Canada’s mostly beloved artists. You will understand why she is still ‘The Strong One’.