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Colin Brennan: A Story Of Autism & Awesomeness

By Matthew Todd / a few months ago

Pro Photos Colin at 2015 AAV
“I really enjoy singing and making people feel good inside!”

Here at Torchlight Talent we are especially inspired by talented young artists who overcome adversity with their art. By these standards, Colin Brennan’s story is the definition of inspiration!

Colin was first featured on Torchlight Talent (as Rivenmaster’s Place) when he was only 8 years old and was already tearing up the music scene in Canada! Check out that article here.

A blossoming career

Colin in choir

Colin’s dad sent me a staggering list of his now 13-year-old son’s achievements since then. Among them: singing a duet with singer/songwriter Justin Hines at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre in Oakville, Ontario, being ranked in the Top 16 out of 4000 other children in the Next Star TV competition, and performing at ‘The Genius of Autism’ event in Times Square just one block off Broadway, New York, at the Historic Edison Ballroom. This is just a sample! Colin sings all the time in a range of styles and and to a vast variety of audiences.

In Colin’s own words:

“I like music and singing because it is my life.”

Dad and Colin in NYC 2012
Colin’s achievements are a testament to the power to transform lives and give motivation and purpose in situations which might otherwise have been characterised by frustration and helplessness. That said, music is a only a tool – a beautiful and powerful tool – but a tool nonetheless. It is the courage and passion of people like Colin and his family that are the essential ingredient in unleashing this untold potential.

Living with autism

I personally found myself deeply moved reading Colin’s story as an important part of my own professional work is using music in working with children and adults with severe and complex needs. I can recount many joyful experiences where non-verbal children have felt empowered to communicate through rhythm or paralysed children have been able to use their voices to join in music making. There have also been some bitter sweet moments like giving a terminally ill boy his last concert.

Colin as Andrew in Pigment cast page

However, far from viewing his autism as a disability, Colin embraces it wholeheartedly! He even views it as a gift, recognising that, despite the challenges, he is also blessed with some amazing abilities:

“Just before I sing at any event, I visualize what I am going to do in my head and then I get very excited just before I actually sing because I know what I am going to do, I know how I am going to sing everything. By the way, I want you to know also that I never get nervous before I sing. It doesn’t matter how many people I sing to, 1 or 10,000 I never get nervous. I get excited, yes, but not nervous. It’s because I really enjoy singing and making people feel good inside!”

I would add to this that Colin also has perfect pitch and has the ability to work for long hours when recording without losing focus. In his Resume we read:

The owner of the River 16 Studio (Rob Lackie) was so impressed at how easy it was to work many long hours with Colin during his studio recording times. “He’s no Diva” he said, and “believe me I’ve met my fair share of Divas in this business!”

Onwards and upwards

Colin with his medals
C
olin’s recent significant events have been performing in the Spring Concert at his church, Walton United, singing with his Youth Choir, singing for his Provincial Premier, Kathleen Wynne, and singing to Mayor Hazel McCallion.

Colin has also and sung with the amazing young Canadian singing sensation Johnny “O” (Orlando.) who is fast becoming a global hit. Other events include singing for Dr. Temple Grandin in Chicago, singing at The Oakville Prayer Breakfast, (700+ people), singing at The All Stars Award Gala, and singing at The Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association (ORMTA)… the list goes on!

Colin and JohnnyO

Colin has been a vocal student for three years at the Cross Vocal Academy with an amazing vocal coach called Gregory Cross. Gregory is exploring many singing techniques with Colin and introducing him to many new genres of music. Mr. Cross appeared as M. Firmin in the award winning Toronto production of Phantom of the Opera and on London’s West End in Miss Saigon and has over 38 years experience as a professional vocalist.

Ultimately, Colin also aspires to be a professional singer and is already acutely aware of the practicalities of being a professional musician!

“I have already been paid money for some of my performances, and I hope that when I am married with my own family, I will be able to still be paid to sing!”

As a working musician, I can assure you, Colin, that you are not alone in that hope! Seriously though, you have the dedication, the skills and, most importantly, the passion which are the beginning of a long and exciting career.

Colin is currently fundraising for his upcoming trip to London, England to sing on stage at The Mermaid Theatre for May 7th, 2016. The Host who invited him to sing is paying for all the Hotel costs but Colin has to pay for the flight. Please consider supporting Colin through his

Go Fund Me account

Colin with his albums

As always, your encouragement goes a long way. Please follow and support Colin through his social media:

Youtube

Official Facebook 

Colin’s Website 

 

About the author

Matthew Todd

Matthew is the owner and author at Torchlight Talent. He has a passion for stories which he believes have the power to inspire and transform. Matthew lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with is wife Lisa. He is a director of Lux Ventus, a company with many creative ventures.