Lip-synch fundraiser collects over $18,000 for pancreatic cancer
Over 300 people gathered at the Phi Center in Old Montreal for the 3rd annual Lip Sync Battles Cancer fundraiser, which was held on November 24. The event, which was held in association with Pancreatic Cancer Canada, raised a total of $18,805 for research into -- and increasing awareness of -pancreatic cancer, an aggressive form of cancer that has a 93 percent mortality rate, and receives only a mere 2 percent of any research funding.
The lip sync battle pitted six contestants who performed a lip sync routine of two chosen songs, complete with choreography, make-up and costumes (and represented a wide range of pop and rock stars, such as Bruno Mars, Freddie Mercury, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Aretha Franklin) before a panel of three celebrity judges (Raymond Ablack from the “Degrassi” TV series, Brittany Drisdelle from the “Jack Ryan” series on Amazon Prime, and Dan Harroch of “Epic Meal Time” fame). The judges picked their top two favorite lip synchers to compete against each other in a final round before a winner was declared; this year’s winner was Emilie Kokmanian, who also won last year’s competition.
The fundraiser was created by Marianne Musi and Vince Colletti, and was emceed by Marianne’s brother Michael Musi, a Montreal-born actor who can be seen on the CBC TV sitcom “Kim’s Convenience”. The reason behind the fundraiser is a personal one for both Marianne and Michael, whose mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012, and passed away from the disease sevenand-a-half months later, at the age of 52.
“This is a terrible disease that we know so little about. And the statistics about it are the worst of any major form of cancer, and it receives so little funding. After our mom died, and we did a little bit of grieving, we decided to get ourselves together to raise funds and more awareness, because pancreatic cancer needs as much attention as any other type of cancer,” said Michael during a brief interview at the Phi Centre prior to the event. As well, they decided to raise awareness and funds towards pancreatic cancer research in a more fun, uplifting manner, which is why the lip synch battle fundraiser was established in 2016. “We wanted to raise funds and awareness, and make a difference, in a more fun way, so we don’t have to attack the subject in a clinical way,” he said. “That’s the reason behind the lip synch battle; we want people to come to the event and have an amazing time. We don’t want them to leave the event crying, but feeling happy and hopeful that they are trying to make a change, so that we get to that point in time where pancreatic cancer won’t be seen as a death sentence.”
While he admits he likes to lip synch to Michael Jackson, Michael says that when he is not pushing the cause towards increased funding and awareness for pancreatic cancer, he has a full plate when it comes to his acting career. He recently finished shooting season three of “Kim’s Convenience” (which airs this January on CBC); he produced a feature horror movie; did some voice work for the latest edition of the popular “Assassin’s Creed” video game, and appeared in a recent commercial for McDonald’s.
Finally, Michael wants to inform the public that the best prevention against pancreatic cancer right now – and the best way to increase your chance of survival -- is early detection, including paying serious attention to such warning signs as abdominal pain, fatigue and jaundiced skin. “If your family has a history of pancreatic cancer, get yourself checked more often,” he said. “Don’t let your doctor think it’s just a stomach bug and sweep it under the rug. Know the signs and take control of your health.”
Congratulations go out to the literary duo of Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagne, who won their fourth Governor-General’s Literary Award for translation (English to French) for their work on Mordecai Richler’s final novel “Barney’s Version” (which is called “Le Monde Selon Barney”); they received their award at a ceremony that took place in Ottawa on November 28.
“This is a huge honour for us, because this award is a means of recognition by our peers, and means that we are getting better and better in what we do as translators,” said Ms. Saint-Martin during a recent phone interview.
The pair translate between four to six books a year, and so far has translated about 105 books throughout their career. A fan of Richler’s books, Ms. Saint-Martin said that this is not the first time that “Barney’s Version” was translated into French; it was originally handled by a publisher based in France.
“It’s never easy to translate a work of literature, because you have to find the novel’s original voice,” she said. “The book has a lot of humour and pathos to it, and the original French version didn’t contain any of the Canadian references and the real life experiences of what it’s like to live in Montreal, which is one of the book’s main strengths.We managed to give our French translation a whole new fresh outlook to it.”
Ms. Saint-Martin firmly believes that translators are the unsung heroes of the literary world, and Quebec-based translators are a huge network of talented individuals who are in a unique position to translate literary works by Quebec and Canadian writers owing to the fact that they live here and understand the context of the works in question much better.
“These Quebec literary translators deserve more recognition for the work they do,” she said. “To me, the fact that they haven’t reach that level of recognition that they deserve amongst the local literary scene is scandalous.”
One of the lip synch battle contestants (imitating Bruno Mars and Freddy Mercury)
Actor and event emceeMichael Musi