May 9, 2016 | « back

CBC.CA — James Taylor feels compelled to help Alberta wildfire relief efforts

By David Friend, The Canadian Press

James Taylor is leaning on his music to help Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees.

The Carolina in My Mind singer has made two Alberta concerts next month into benefits that will raise money for the wildfire rescue efforts.

He says proceeds from tickets to his shows in Edmonton on June 7 and Calgary on June 8 will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross.

“To turn those couple of shows into benefits is just too good an opportunity to pass up,” Taylor said in a phone interview from his tour bus.

“It’s a major national catastrophe and it’s just impossible to ignore it.”

Taylor says the idea came from conversations with his Canadian manager Sam Feldman on Friday, as he rolled into Ottawa for the first of a 15-concert tour of Canadian cities over the next month.

“You just don’t want to think of profiting at a time like this,” Taylor says.

“It’s a time when something better can be done with the money.”

More than 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray have been displaced by the fires, which began last week.

Forest fire officials say it could be months before they’ve fully extinguished the massive blaze, which has already spread across 2,000 square kilometres of northern Alberta.

Taylor has frequently participated in fundraising events for social and political causes.

“It’s a feeling … of community that happens at a concert that is so compelling,” he says.

“It’s kind of a spiritual thing. It’s the closest I get to church.”