Kimberley Dunn Releases Ryan’s Song – A Tribute to Sgt. Ryan Russell
by Sandy Graham
On January 12, 2011, Toronto Police Officer, Sgt. Ryan Russell, tragically lost his life in the line of duty. This terrible tragedy inspired a song by family friend, Kimberley Dunn, who performed the song at Sgt. Russell’s funeral in fitting tribute to an officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As a city mourned the loss of one of its own; “Ryan’s Song” touched an entire nation.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Sgt. Ryan Russell will sadly have his name unveiled as one of the fallen heroes at a Queen’s Park Ceremony at The Ontario Police Memorial. The Ontario Police Memorial is dedicated to all of the brave police officers in Ontario’s history who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The memorial is made up of a bronze statue of a male and female officer standing atop a large granite pedestal. The names of fallen officers are carved into a granite wall – the Wall of Honour – that stands on each side of the pedestal. The words, “Heroes in Life, Not Death,” are carved on the memorial. This is to recognize that police officers who risk their lives, every day, to protect people and neighbourhoods, and deserve the respect and gratitude of the citizens they serve. The Ontario Police Memorial is in a small park at the corner of Queen’s Park Crescent and Grosvenor Street in Toronto. The family and friends of Sgt. Russell will be in attendance to honour a friend, a colleague, a son, a husband, and of course, one of Toronto’s finest – a Police Officer.
At the funeral of Sgt. Russell, a close family friend had written a song in his honour, and when his widow, Christine Russell heard it, she asked if Kimberley Dunn would perform it. ‘I was nervous to sing such a personal song in front of so many people,” Dunn said from her home just outside of Ottawa. “ It was such a public tragedy, and I was so affected by it I didn’t know what to do, so I do what I always do when I am emotional or need personal time to think. I play my piano. The song came to me in about 20 minutes, but is was inspirational and I was so honoured to sing it at his funeral.”
The funeral was watched on television, heard on radio, and hundreds lined up outside the overflowing Convention Centre to show their compassion and grief for such a young man, taken in such a senseless way. “I was overwhelmed by the reaction to Ryan’s Song at the funeral, and I was so grateful for the respect Ryan was given; he truly was a family man, and will be missed sorely. It was a once in a lifetime experience to sing this song for his family at such a time of great sorrow, and the reaction was so moving and truly unforgettable.”
The music business is known as an industry where you get to go swimming with the sharks and this project showed that there are professionals that actually do have a heart. Mark Nakamura had this to say, “I want my brothers and sisters in the entertainment community to know that it isn’t always about the money. We needed to step up to the plate for the Russell family. My frustrations in the past were always that someone wanted to get paid or wanted a tax receipt which I could never provide. This project gave me a chance to give to his wife and his young son, Nolan.”
The demand for a downloadable version of “Ryan’s Song” was so great that within days of the funeral, arrangements were being made for a professional recording session. When Bill Delingat of Cashbox Canada asked for assistance in getting the song recorded, Mark Nakamura of Paradigm Music answered the call to help record “Ryan’s Song” and Juno award winning sound engineer, Norm Barker, at “Studio 92” graciously offered his services. Photographer Ben Winston provided all of the photography and Gabryelle Wolosik and Kim Warren of Kinetic Sight and Sound, donated their time in creating and hosting the “Ryan’s Song” memorial website in honour of our fallen hero.
Cashbox Canada’s graphic artist, Rob Butterworth of 7 Feathers Productions, assisted in designing a press release package, and our Editor, Lenny Stoute kicked in to get the word out there, resulting in a half page in The Toronto Star on April 27th, various radio interviews. Heather Ostertag kicked in to get the word to television, and the word got out. I was also in a position to get to know Kimberley Dunn via many phone calls while trying to get this time sensitive project ready to launch. All out of pocket expenses are being covered by Mark Nakamura, including downloadable cards that can be purchased, website maintenance, hosting, phones, marketing and promotion.
Kimberley Dunn started playing the piano at four years old, not much older than Nolan Russell is right now. “I play music by ear. I took piano lessons, studied classically for years, and now I teach piano to young students to teach them the love of music. I love playing the piano, and now composing is in my horizon. Ryan’s Song gave me that gift. I am grateful for the fact that Nolan will have an incredible book of memories to remember his Dad. When he grows into a young man, he will be able to see how much his Dad was loved, and respected. I am humbled to be able to have been a page in that book. Christine Russell's promise to her husband during the funeral was that he would never be forgotten: "We will love you forever and always." Ryan’s Song will live on forever now that it has been recorded.”
Ryan’s Song is available on iTunes, and you can hear it on ryansong.ca as well as see the photos of Sgt. Ryan Russell with his son Nolan. All of the proceeds of the sale of this song will be donated to The Nolan Russell Trust Fund with donations being accepted as well through :
CIBC – Transit # 04393 Account # 0018139 Bank #010.
For a video experience please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eB4OqYr2Vc
Please be generous with your heart and purchase Ryan’s Song and support The Nolan Russell Trust Fund.
Cover Design: Rob Butterworth