Ex-Montrealer records song to save stepdaughter, raise cash to help cure childhood cancer
By Richard Burnett
Ryan Burton’s three-year old stepdaughter Callie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in September 2011.
“We were having a normal day on September 5 when Callie – who was spending the day with her dad – got some bruises on her nose from wearing sunglasses, which was very strange,” Ryan Burton – onetime bass player for the 1990s Montreal rock band I.C. Red – told me this week. “So that day they took her to the doctor who told us to take her to the hospital immediately. Not even half an hour later she was diagnosed with leukemia and we didn’t check out for about six months.”
While Callie would get eventually leave the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston hospital, other children would not. As Burton points out, every cancer battle is significant but the tragedy is amplified when it happens to children, who often cannot understand their illness, treatment or mortality.
“I still write and record as a hobby, and in 2003 I wrote a song called Daddy’s Home and the beginning lyric goes, ‘Tell me why you cut your hair.’ That lyric stayed in my head when I saw all these bald little kids in the hospital fighting cancer. It turned into the first line of the our [new] song Sometimes You Gotta Fight.”
Burton co-wrote the song (watch the video below) with his old I.C. Red bandmate, renowned Montreal musician Vann (a.k.a. Rob van Blokland) who also played guitar, sang lead vocals and produced the track in a Georgia recording studio this spring.
“He stayed with my family, stayed at my place, and we got up every morning and drove to the studio,” Burton says. “Within a day it was just like [being in our old band] 18 years ago! It was totally awesome. Vann is extremely talented and in my opinion is one of the greatest songwriters in the world.”
Everybody involved in the project – including Montreal publicist Leisa Lee – has done it for free, to raise cancer awareness and help find a cure.
“This project isn’t just about raising money, it’s also about the social media aspect of it. Everybody has many friends on Facebook, so if they all share the video on Facebook, we can raise awareness,” says Burton, pointing out the video (at press time) has almost 7,500 views.
Meanwhile, all money raised from downloading the song for 99¢ from digital music stores goes directly to CURE Childhood Cancer, a U.S. national non-profit organization headquartered in Atlanta and working internationally through a network of affiliates to cure childhood cancer.
As for Callie, Burton says, “You got us on a good week. We’ve very fortunate but the reality is she has about 5 years of monthly medical check-ups ahead of her. Hopefully she will stay in remission because there is no cure for cancer. She’s returned to school, growing her hair back, going about her day-to-day life. Everyday when I look at her she inspires me.”