Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter Melanie Doane is performing in War Horse on stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto until Sept 30. Her latest CD is The Emerald City and she has launched a Ukelele in the Classroom project in Toronto schools.
What is your father’s name?
Chalmers Doane. Actually it is J. Chalmers Doane, always with a ‘J.’ J for John.
What do you call him?
Dad. Daddy at one point in the past, I suppose, when I was younger.
Do you look like him?
Yes, I do.
Is that a source of pride, or consternation, for you?
I’d say pride. Oh, yes. I have his nose.
Do you have his personality?
Absolutely. We are kind of peas in a pod, if you know me. Music was the big one. We always had music in the family. He was supervisor for music for the Halifax school system. We always played music in the home. He was my teacher. He still plays. He plays everything. Everything.
Are you ‘Daddy’s girl’?
I think it probably fits. He has two girls. We might both be considered Daddy’s girls. He was a very good father. He knew what he was doing.
“Knew what he was doing …” Is fatherhood an innate ability or a learned one – especially being father to daughters?
You learn from your father what you want from life, what you desire, what you should do. You learn from your dad and your mom. Dads learn it from their fathers. It is handed down through the generations. Some people are luckier than others to have a great example. Some learn as they go. Some people have the desire. Desire is important. You can do anything if you have desire. Desire to be a good father, desire to learn. That is so important.
Single-parent, fatherless homes are becoming increasingly common. In homes where the father is absent, can a father’s influence be replaced?
There are a lot of people in your life you can learn from, people who care about you and you can learn as you go. There are a lot of influences. There are a lot of alternatives today. But nothing can replace a father.
As an adult, is your father’s approval still important to you, in your life, or in your music?
Definitely. Really it is. But I wouldn’t be crushed if he didn’t agree with me or didn’t understand me. That is different now as an adult. But I hope he does. He is worth pleasing.
Is he a fan of your music?
Yeah! We still play together. He is very well known for music in the education system in Canada. Known worldwide. He has the Order of Canada for his work in music in education.
Are you Chalmers Doane’s daughter, or is he Melanie Doane’s dad?
It depends where you go! My kids were auditioning for a choir. They said, ‘What are these kids’ names? Are you related to Chalmers Doane?’ It happens when you never expect. It feels good.
In traditional marriage ceremonies, the father ‘gives away’ the bride. Is this notion of possession an archaic concept?
I think it depends on your relationship. It is not really ‘given away’ these days. You hand over a heart, give away a heart, in a way. You pass over the heart, the love, of someone you love. Your dad has your heart and he is giving away a piece of it.
What is the single most important characteristic a father should possess?
Thinking about the differences between a father and a mother, everything I think a father should do, a mother should do as well – nurturing, understanding, teaching. What is it that fathers do that mothers do not? The thing that dads do is nap. Fathers nap! Do you remember your mom napping?
It is axiomatic that a girl tends to seek out a man like her father as a prospective life partner. Do you think this is true?
We learn about people from the relationship. For sure they want to know it is someone like their father subconsciously. With a man, especially early on, you don’t know all the personality traits, all that constitutes him. But the model for a man a daughter learns first is her father.
How will you spend Father’s Day?
My father will drive down for a visit to Toronto. My Dad and my Mom. I hope they will get here in time, [for Father’s Day] but if not, we will delay the day. He will see me in War Horse. We’ll celebrate at home, hopefully with music. Definitely with music. My brother is here and we will all play together.