Volume 92, Issue 11

Monday, September 22, 1998

temper temper


Lost Angels revisited by Jefferson Kent's music

By Erin Phelan
Gazette Writer

There seems to be a CD released every week to raise money for a charitable cause. Most of them, as in the case of Princess Diana, are either compilations of songs found elsewhere or re-recordings tailored for the moment. Lost Angels doesn't fit into such a category.

In April of 1992, Jefferson Kent, a Toronto musician, began writing a suite of classical pieces which have only recently been released. Lost Angels is a tribute CD inspired by and dedicated to Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey. All proceeds raised go towards the Victim's Integrity Fund.

Kent, the father of two teenage daughters, was a stay-at-home dad at the time of the Mahaffey and French murders.

"I began writing the weekend Kristen went missing," Kent says. "It was like something external affected my creative process. I was either thinking of one or both girls when I was writing. "Requiem," for example, has two violins and two separate melodies that are interwoven. They represent both girls' lives. Separate, but forever connected."

Kent finished the music six years ago and placed it in his personal library, adamant that was where it would stay. This past March he and producer Pamela Hugh decided to present the music to the families after discovering their need to raise money for escalating legal fees.

Last week the French and Mahaffey families began their arguments before the Supreme Court of Canada to have the videotapes made by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka sealed. Under Canada's Criminal Code, as evidence presented during Bernardo's trial, the tapes are fully available to the public and the media.

"We were really nervous about coming to [the families] with the music," Hugh says. "They listened to the rough mixes Jefferson had written for their daughters and were very receptive to it."

The families had wanted music without lyrics and told Kent to go ahead with the project. Kent and Hugh placed a notice at the Royal Conservatory of Music and were amazed how quickly talented musicians, some from the Niagara symphony, volunteered their services.

The end product, Lost Angels, is a classical CD with beautiful piano melodies complemented by a sweet and delicate string section.

"Actually, the first version we mastered was very dark, I couldn't help it. It represented the bad side of things. The samples I included in the beginning were much more ominous. Now the oboe feels like a relief. I think of it as angels being released into heaven," Kent says.

"Our publicist told Jefferson not to be hurt, that the cause would bring more attention than the music. We're finding it to be the exact opposite," Hugh explains.

The musician and producer have put hundreds of hours into the creative and business process. In fact, Jefferson Kent took out a mortgage on his house to pay for the CDs, which have sold out in various music stores in Kitchener and St. Catherines.

"We tried to keep that fact from the families but Doug [French] found out," Kent says, who has since been reimbursed by the Victim's Integrity Fund for the 4,000 CDs he had initially pressed. They are currently recording a video for "Canon," the first track off of Lost Angels, in an effort to raise more attention for the cause.

A few weeks ago Jefferson Kent and Pamela Hugh met Debbie Mahaffey to present her with a copy of the CD.

"We sat for hours talking about Leslie. It is amazing to see the strength in [Debbie] – I don't understand where it comes from," Hugh says with tears swelling in her eyes.

"Debbie clutched the CD to her chest and told me she was going to go home and listen to it by herself," Kent says. "We were both afraid of that, of what it might do to her."

At the CD release press conference in late August, Debbie Mahaffey publicly thanked Jefferson Kent and Pamela Hugh for their talents and efforts.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998