Performer Entertains Providence School

Smoky River Express

by Kevin Laliberte

When it comes to working for a living, most of us have the final say in choosing our career of choice.

Sometimes, however, the career chooses us.

Case in point, Alex Mahé, who has been entertaining kids of all ages with his energetic voice for most of his life.

"I just can't seem to get enough of it," Mahé said last week, just minutes before a performance in front of students at Ecole Providence school in McLennan. "It's something that has been in my blood since I was a young kid."

Alex was raised on a farm in northeastern Alberta along with his nine brothers and sisters, all of whom shared the privilege of being his first audience in the early stages of his singing career.

He went on to complete high school prior to attending Edmonton's Grant MacEwan Community College. In 1981 he became the first male in Alberta to graduate from the Early Childhood Development Program.

Through it all he said he never lost his interest for music and song writing -- a hobby which eventually blossomed into a full-time career by the mid-1980's.

Since that time he has recorded five albums, hosted and produced a children's television program called Alex Mahé's Goodtime Train, and been nominated several times including the Alberta Recording Industries Association for Best Children's Artist on Record.

His music, which includes a moderate taste of humor, is interactive and helps to teach and inspire children of all ages while promoting and elevating their levels of self-esteem. He says it's all about opening the doors to a child's heart.

"I believe that music and songs are tools that have long-lasting and positive impacts in a child's life. My commitment is to an art form that enlightens, sparks imagination and causes a feeling of simple well-being," he said, adding he feels obligated in a sense to help better the lives "of our future planet wayfarers."

Mahé's enthusiasm and vocal talent on the stage has captivated young audiences from places like Havre, Montana, to the Northwest Territories, Vancouver, Ontario, Quebec and, of course, Alberta.

His likeable personality and warm rapport with children is reflected in his performances, which are carried out in English and French languages -- sometimes both. And when the curtain goes up and the lights come on, it's Mahé who heads straight for the crowd, encouraging members of his audience to share the spotlight on stage.

It's one aspect of his show which he has emphasized since day one as a way of allowing spectators to get into the spirit and content of his songs.

Over the years he has also performed at the Heritage, Fringe and Folk Festivals in Edmonton, the Children's Festival de la Jeunesse in Ottawa, La Sablonniére in Gatineau Que., the Northern Alberta International Children's Festival in St. Albert and the First Night Festival in Edmonton.

Mahé spends most of his time as a performer on the road, including in Alberta schools where he's held an estimated 800 shows over the course of his career.

Another 26 shows have taken place under the umbrella of the Peace Library System.

For Mahé the performances are a perfect way to not only interact with children but also to take in the sights.

"A lot of the time when I travel I bring a tent and a camera with me. It's a great way to get to know the area . . . kind of learn as you go," he said."

"When I arrived here (in McLennan) the first thing I did was take a walk around. It's really a beautiful little town."

Mahé says that when he's not busy writing songs or putting the finishing touches on his albums, he's taking care of the promotional side of the business which includes managing and advertising.

"For me personally, singing, song writing and performing has become a way of life. It's one of those careers where there's little time, if any, to come home and take a break in front of the TV," he said.

Still, Mahé, who admits he's not exactly making money hand over fist, says he wouldn't have it any other way.

"The money's not huge, but you know it doesn't really matter. I make enough to get by. The important thing for me is the satisfaction of seeing the kids and their smiling faces," he explained.


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