In the aftermath of his mother being laid to rest nearly two weeks ago, being in solitude was the furthest thing from Quincy Bullen’s mind.
Just 24 hours after family and friends bid farewell to Joan des Vignes Bullen, who died on February 12 at age 61, he was recognized with a youth achievement honour at the 30th annual African-Canadian Achievement Awards (ACAA).
She and Juno award-winning producer, Eddie Bullen, were married for 25 years.
“I wanted to be here among people, particularly those that are excelling in our community and are being recognized tonight,” said the young artiste, who joined the Royal Conservatory of Music at age six. “To be alone is the worst thing for me at this time and my mom would not have wanted that.”
A founding member of the Quintessential Boys Jazz Band, Bullen dedicated the award to his mother.
“She was my biggest fan,” he said. “She was a loving and positive person who taught me about forgiveness and staying true to myself. She and my grandmother (she passed away in December 2012) were extremely spiritual. Losing them is like losing my faith because they kept me spiritually grounded.”
Bullen said the family matriarch, who was a popular hairstylist, enjoyed all genres of music.
“It just depended on the mood that she was in,” he said. “She also played the piano, but she loved the scissors.”
A graduate of Unionville High School for the Arts and Humber College’s School of Creative Arts, Bullen was overwhelmed by the recognition.
“This award signals that I am doing the right thing,” he said. “It means I am on the right track, I know where I am going and my destination is in sight.”
An experienced and adept keyboardist, Bullen’s repertoire includes his own version of popular standards from jazz, R & B and soul as well as his original compositions. His first solo album, On Q, is mostly original material demonstrating his funky jazz vibe and his sensitivity as a composer.
He plans to release his second solo album on his 23rd birthday on April 3.
“It’s an inspirational piece that’s very personal,” said Bullen, who performed with American rapper Common three years ago at the Filmore Theatre in Detroit.
Taught to play the piano by his father, Bullen made his stage debut at age seven at the Caribbean Sunfest Festival that drew nearly 8,000 spectators.
Nine years ago, he embarked on an acting career that has yielded principal roles on stage and in film.