This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #1: Say What You Will by Justin Hines (Nominated By Linda Hebert).
It is my hope that over the course of the next few weeks, you will all be introduced to some of the wonderful people who make up my world and, as well, learn the back story of some songs that may, or may not, be famous but, in one way or another, all hold a special place in the hearts and minds of those who nominated them to me for inclusion in our countdown. So, without further delay, here is our first Honourable Mention song….”Say What You Will” by Justin Hines, as nominated by my friend, Linda Hebert.
I have known Linda Hebert for a very long time. We first met when I was in the very earliest stages of my teaching career in Courtice, Ontario. I was a nervous, inexperienced young teacher, trying to figure out how to be an adult and a professional educator, at the same time. Linda was the Secretary in our school office which, in practical terms, meant that she was the face of our school. It was her voice that parents heard first when they called to speak to me about something to do with their child, our class, etc. It was Linda who kept a roster full of educators on track when it came to deadlines and daily tasks such as attendance and the completion of report cards. Perhaps, most importantly of all, it was Linda who kept tabs on the various school Principals who occupied the Big Chair which could be, in reality, a full-time job all on its’ own. All of our school’s community of educators, support workers, administrators, students, parents, volunteers and interested community members all dealt with Linda and, as such, all were very lucky to have done so because Linda was, not only enormously capable but, she was also, enormously kind and caring. But, you don’t have to take my word for that. Let’s spend a few moments looking at the song she chose to nominate for inclusion as an “Honourable Mention Song” for our countdown.
Linda was one of the very first people to contact me with a nomination. I am not sure what I was expecting to find in my in-box but, “Say What You Will” by Justin Hines was not it. If I am being honest, I have to admit that I had never heard of Justin Hines but, because of Linda, I now know who he is and I am the better for it. Justin Hines is an Ontario man who was born with a condition known as Larsen’s Syndrome. The short strokes of this disease are that it causes problems with bone growth and joint structure which, as a result, means that those who have Larsen’s Syndrome are often wheelchair bound and have many challenges with mobility throughout their lives. However, one thing that Larsen’s Syndrome does not usually affect is the voice. As a child, Justin had to develop strategies to help him gain the attention of others. One of the ways he discovered that worked best for him was by singing. Justin grew up singing in Churches. As he entered his teens, he tried out for a contest with the Toronto Raptors basketball team…which he won….that saw him sing the national anthem to start one of their games. One of our faults, as humans, is that, whether we like it or not, we are quick to judge others. So, when Justin Hines rolled out on to the basketball court in his wheelchair, the first instinct of many of those in attendance was to pity him. But, then he opened his mouth and began to sing. Oh my! The power of the voice that poured out of him. He blew that arena away and, in doing so, opened the door for a lifetime career as a singer and as an advocate for those with physical disabilities.
Justin Hines has travelled the world to spread his message of love and acceptance; he has helped raise money for schools and hospitals in South Africa, he has travelled all throughout Europe and, back home, he has been awarded the Order of Ontario and regularly speaks/performs at schools and churches all throughout the province. It was at one such performance that Linda came to meet Justin for the first time. According to her, he was incredibly uplifting and motivational. But, more than anything else, Justin Hines wishes to be known as a singer. And what a terrific singer he is! When you get to hear him in a few moments, I guarantee you that you will be as impressed with his voice as I was after Linda introduced him to me.
So, I will end this first Honourable Mention song post by inviting you to sit back and meet a truly inspirational man named Justin Hines, who is using his gifts to make a positive difference in the world. Thank you, Linda Hebert, for introducing Justin to me and, by extension, to all those who are reading this post. And, as always, thank you, Linda, for being you. I am more than grateful to have you as a presence in my life. I look forward to many more years of friendship and good chats between us.
For now, let’s all hear some great music! Here is Justin Hines with his hit song, “Say What You Will”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Say What You Will” by Justin Hines, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Justin Hines, can be found here.