the oc­cur­rence and de­vel­op­ment of events by chance in a happy or ben­e­fi­cial way

Ottawa at Home - - LIVING | MY WAY - writ­ten by an­drea dou­glas pho­to­graph by mark holleron

EvenJo­ce­lyn Rheaume will ad­mit it’s the right word to de­scribe her life. “I’ve been in the right place at the right time so many times,” she says with a shrug and a lit­tle lift of the eye­brows. How else to ex­plain go­ing from a high-school drama teacher, to Ala­nis Moris­sette’s per­sonal as­sis­tant, to me­dia co­or­di­na­tor for Lilith Fair, to suc­cess­ful in­de­pen­dent video pro­ducer. Gaz­ing around her of­fice, you don’t even have to be a mu­sic junkie to rec­og­nize the many fa­mous artists star­ing back at you from the wall. Ala­nis, Sarah McLach­lan, Paula Cole, Chan­tal Kre­vi­azuk, to name but a few. There are signed records, signed pho­to­graphs, hand­fuls of back­stage passes to con­certs hang­ing from hooks – fame ev­ery­where you turn.

And yet to get to this piece of Jo­ce­lyn Rheaume’s world, you have to walk down some rick­ety stairs, past the fur­nace and into the deep, dark re­cesses of her base­ment. It’s all a lit­tle in­con­gru­ous. Par­tic­u­larly when you come back up and look down her quiet, tree-lined street with chil­dren scurrying to schools in the west-end neigh­bour­hood.

School, in fact, was the spring­board to Jo­ce­lyn’s path in life. She turned her love of drama into an eleven-year ca­reer as a high-school drama teacher at Glebe High School – and she loved ev­ery minute of it. One of her star stu­dents was Ala­nis Moris­sette.

I’ve been in the right place at the right time so many times.

— Jo­ce­lyn Rheaume, video pro­ducer

“She came to my house with a cas­sette on which she’d recorded the first few songs from Jagged Lit­tle Pill. It ac­tu­ally sent shiv­ers up and down my spine,” re­mem­bers Jo­ce­lyn. Within a few short years, things would change dra­mat­i­cally for both Jo­ce­lyn and Ala­nis.

When Jo­ce­lyn’s hus­band James Gil­lissie de­cided to take early re­tire­ment, Jo­ce­lyn took a year’s leave from teach­ing. They were go­ing to bike around the world. The plans were made. They got their shots.

But then came the phone call that would change Jo­ce­lyn’s life path. She’d kept in touch with her for­mer star stu­dent who had since moved to Los An­ge­les and recorded Jagged Lit­tle Pill. When Ala­nis be­gan a tour in sup­port of the al­bum, beginning in small clubs in Lon­don, Paris and Am­s­ter­dam – at her side was none other than her for­mer drama teacher.

“She was just start­ing to sky­rocket,” says Jo­ce­lyn. “So I said to Jimmy – let’s put the bike trip on hold. Then af­ter the first tour ended she wanted me to stay on for a world tour. So in 18 months, I cir­cled the globe twice.”

It was not on a bike, and not with Jimmy, but it def­i­nitely had his sup­port. “Jo­ce­lyn bought me a sub­scrip­tion to Fine Home­build­ing, told me to get busy with our fall­ing-down house and promised to check on my progress ev­ery three to four months for the next nine years,” he laughs.

While at Ala­nis’ side, she saw the rock con­cert world from the star’s point of view. Jo­ce­lyn went from per­sonal as­sis­tant to the pro­duc­tion side of the show, and, just as she was com­ing up for air when the tour fi­nally ended, she got a call from the Lilith Fair or­ga­niz­ers who asked her to come on board as a me­dia co­or­di­na­tor.

She didn’t even re­al­ize it, but once again, she’d been swept up into an­other “Alice in Won­der­land” phe­nom­e­non. Af­ter three sum­mers of suc­cess­ful Lilith Fair tours, the mu­sic bug was pretty much a part of her and she left teach­ing be­hind when the school board re­jected her third leave re­quest.

For the next seven years, one band just seemed to lead to an­other – The Pre­tenders, the Goo Goo Dolls, Bare­naked Ladies. Jo­ce­lyn even flew with Paula Cole to the Gulf for a con­cert for the troops. Be­ing cat­a­pulted off a de­stroyer and go­ing from zero to 200 mph in two sec­onds, was a scary ex­pe­ri­ence, she said for some­one who doesn’t even do rides at the Ex!

And while she ad­mits that it was a crazy life change, it was all a good fit. “My high-

school teach­ing set me up to be highly organized and dis­ci­plined. And be­cause there weren’t a lot of fe­males do­ing this kind of work, I de­vel­oped some won­der­ful re­la­tion­ships with the artists.”

Like the pop­u­lar singer Chan­tal Kre­vi­azuk who says, “Jo­ce­lyn is not only one of the best peo­ple I have met in the busi­ness and had on my team, but she is an in­cred­i­ble per­son. On a pro­fes­sional level, Jo­ce­lyn brings some­thing re­fresh­ing and mag­i­cal to ‘the of­fice.’”

But at some point, Jo­ce­lyn rec­og­nized she had to go back to the other side of the “looking glass.” There was a hus­band, a house and a life that had been left be­hind. When she was asked to pro­duce a show for the 30th An­nual Congress of Abo­rig­i­nal Peo­ples at the Congress Cen­tre, she jumped at the op­por­tu­nity and pro­duced a multi-faceted show that com­bined live acts, multi-me­dia and video.

While there con­tin­ued to be a bit of over­lap be­tween her mu­sic life and her other life, the call of home and the video busi­ness grew stronger. By 2003, Jo­ce­lyn was the video pro­ducer of her own com­pany Bossy Jossy Pro­duc­tions, with much of her work com­ing from Ottawa video firm Affin­ity Pro­duc­tions.

“Hav­ing Jos on the team is peace of mind,” says Affin­ity’s vice-pres­i­dent Mike Wet­more. “When I put her on a project, I pretty much for­get about it be­cause I know she has it com­pletely un­der con­trol. Her ex­cep­tional way with peo­ple en­sures the clients keep com­ing back and ask­ing for her.”

Grow­ing up in an abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture (her fa­ther Gene Rheaume was one of Canada’s first Métis MPs), Jo­ce­lyn has also fo­cused a lot of her video work in the abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity. It in­volves more travel (more ren­o­va­tion time for Jimmy) and ac­cess to some of Canada’s most re­mote ar­eas. To cap it all off, she’s cur­rently work­ing on a project with Moun­tain Road Pro­duc­tion, an Ottawa TV pro­duc­tion com­pany that is col­lab­o­rat­ing with her on a TV net­work se­ries about in­dige­nous hous­ing across the world.

“I’m throw­ing my­self off a cliff – again,” she laughs in ref­er­ence to the new project which both ex­cites and ter­ri­fies her at the same time. And, yes, she misses some of the heady days of hang­ing out with rock-and-roll stars, but that was about other artists. “Now I get to have artis­tic vi­sion and I love it,” con­cludes Jo­ce­lyn who de­scribes her di­rect­ing, writ­ing and video pro­duc­ing as “soul sat­is­fy­ing.”


CLOCK­WISE: Jo­ce­lyn work­ing from her west-end home. Jo­ce­lyn with Ala­nis Moris­sette on the Rideau Canal. Jo­ce­lyn with Sarah McLach­lan at the Lilith Fair. Jo­ce­lyn tak­ing a mo­ment for her­self at Lilith Fair. Jo­ce­lyn aboard a mil­i­tary de­stroyer. Jo­ce­lyn with Paula Cole and crew aboard mil­i­tary he­li­copter. photo col­lec­tion sup­plied by jo­ce­lyn rheaume.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.