words/ MEGAN SIBLEY
When you ask 20-year-old Sidone Harrison who he looks up to most as a musician, he has a list. It is as though he has thought about it, and rehearsed the names in his mind. Those he admires are all musicians: ranging from drummers to music directors, and everything in between. But these people have more than just musical talent in common; what Harrison regards most about them, is their faith.
Religion has always been important to Harrison. Surrounding himself with people who help him strengthen his relationship with God has been crucial to his success, and to his sense of humility. So when Ruth B, the Canadian singer/songwriter known to be a fellow Christian contacted him to be her touring pianist, it seemed like fate.
Harrison began to dabble in music the way most music-loving kids in church-going families do: on Sunday mornings. At just three-years old, he was playing drums at Faith Family Church in Ajax, Ont. His love for learning and mastering various instruments never seemed to die.
“Music was always the one subject I got A’s in at school,” says Harrison. “My mom realized that early, and bought me my first drum set.”
Harrison’s parents have always been supportive of his musical aspirations, but he believes he has inherited his talent from his grandfather, Patrick Joseph. Playing a wide arrays of instruments, he is a worship pastor in St. Lucia. Harrison has only met his grandfather a handful of times, but knew instantly that he was the source of his musical roots.
“Meeting him was the best thing ever,” Harrison says. “We just jammed the whole day, and it was so clear where I got my love of music from.”
As young Harrison grew older, he picked up not only drums, but bass, saxophone, vocals, and eventually, the piano. In 2015, he decided to enrol at Humber College for their Introduction to Jazz program, specializing in the drums. During this time he started to play the piano more frequently: a skill he only began to cultivate because the regular pianist for his school’s gospel choir was unable to play. Despite the potential his instructors saw in him, Harrison felt unsettled and disconnected, and ended up dropping out. He decided to pursue an education at a bible college in Peterborough, Ont. called Master’s College & Seminary.
“Leaving Humber was a hard thing to do, because when talking with peers and teachers they all wanted me to stay,” says Harrison.“ But I knew what God wanted me to do. It was bittersweet, but it felt right.”
Which is why Harrison was surprised to receive a call from Sony Records in April 2017, asking him to tour with Ruth B as her pianist. Not only was piano a fairly new skill for him, but Humber college was the source that had referred Harrison for the position.
“Here I was thinking the worst: that Humber hates me and that I was a bad student,” Harrison says. “But they hooked me up with the biggest gig I’ve ever done: being a professional touring musician.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Having just finished up a North American tour with Ruth B, Harrison and his band mates are playing regular shows across Canada and the United States.
“Since I first started with Ruth and the band, I’ve had the biggest peace inside of me, it’s just been so good,” says Harrison. “Knowing that she is a Christian and we believe the same things, God really set this up nicely for me.”
In his free time, Harrison goes back to his roots, playing the piano and working as The Embassy church’s Music Director in Oshawa, Ont.
“It makes me feel so happy, it’s a job where I can wake up in the morning and enjoy going to work.”
Jeremy John has been jamming with Harrison since grade school, starting their first band together when they were ten-years old. As a longtime friend and current fellow musician at The Embassy, John speaks highly of his friend’s talent.
“Sidone is like glue when he plays,” says John. “No matter what instrument he’s playing, he makes it so easy to play with him. He fits in perfectly, and holds the band together.”
When it comes to Harrison being selected to play with Ruth B, John says he is not surprised at all.
“His work ethic that he puts towards his music is different than other people,” John says. “He’s not only concerned about being able to play good, but also about being prepared for anything and making the quality of the whole set better.”
While Harrison does admit that there are some days he does not even want to look at a piano or a set of drums, having a strong work ethic is easier when he is doing what he loves as an expression of his faith.
“I love what I do because it’s my worship back to God,” Harrison says. “I always want to honour God in what I do.”