SURREY — Kelita Haverland has plenty of entertaining stories to tell about her adventures as a rising-star country musician, but the tales of her tragedy-filled personal life resonate most, especially with women.
She moved from Mississauga to Surrey five years ago with memories of some painful life experiences, including her father’s suicide before she became a teenager, her mother’s death from cancer soon after, and sexual abuse at the hand of a half-brother who later died of a heroin overdose.
An ex-husband’s physical abuse, a near-fatal automobile accident, one stalled music career, her younger sister’s death in a car crash, a dead brother due to drowning – it all amounts to triumph over tragedy for the Clayton Heights-area resident.
“It’s been an interesting life, one of overcoming many painful events,” agreed Haverland, whose said her faith in God helped through trying times.
Today, she and her husband, Gord Lemon, a fellow musician, are members of Cloverdale’s Pacific Community Church, where Haverland will perform on Sunday, Dec. 4.
The “Christmas with Kelita” event, to be held in the church’s 400-seat auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m., is for women only.
“The bulk of what I do is inspirational speaking – I call it inspired entertainment,” explained Haverland, who performs under her given name. “I’m not really in the clubs anymore, and I did that for many years, and I’m more focused on speaking and singing, so the music is really a platform for me to be able to speak.
“I do a lot of women’s events,” she continued. “I love performing for women, hanging out with them and speaking to them, and I share my story, which I hope encourages and empowers them.”
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No longer a country-music artist, Haverland has branched out to include more comedy in her performances.
“I’ve always wanted to be Carole King, you know, so my music is now much more singer-songwriter, piano-based,” she said. “All the material is original, all mine, and I also do comedy – character comedy, for a long time.… It’s not impersonations because they’re characters I’ve created over the years.”
In the music biz, Haverland earned five Juno Award nominations, made videos, appeared on TV shows and shared stages with the likes of k.d. lang, Reba McEntire and Jim Carrey. In 1985, she recorded a song in Nashville called “Too Hot to Handle,” which featured the background vocals of a budding superstar named Shania Twain.
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It’s been an eventful life for the native of Claresholm, Alberta, and now she’s continuing to find her way here on the West Coast, both personally and professionally.
“I’m a newbie here, definitely, and it’s like starting over when you move across the country like we have,” revealed Haverland, whose recent work includes a TEDx talk in Utah four years ago.
“What I do now is much different than selling alcohol and a party atmosphere, which I was very good at doing, you know, and club owners used to love to have me because I used to put on quite a theatrical show. I’ve always been creative that way. And even back then I’d do a bit of comedy in my sets, so that always made it interesting.”
Tickets for Haverland’s event on Dec. 4 are priced at $15 on the Pacific Community Church website, Pacificcommunity.ca, or call 604-574-4001.
“Tell your girlfriends, your mothers, your daughters and any woman who needs some girl time, and longs to be embraced by God,” reads the event notice on the website.