Raised in a musical environment in Grenada, it’s easy to understand why Eddie Bullen is a multi-talented artist still on top of his game.
Ralph Bullen, who died in 1987 at age 79, was a recording artist and owner at one time of the only music store in Grenada.
“He sold and repaired music instruments, so I grew up around those things,” said Bullen, who was the recipient of a Planet Africa Entertainment Award last Saturday night in Mississauga. “When musicians came off tourist ships, they would come to my dad’s place and engage in some serious all-night jam sessions.”
Attending classical piano lessons for nearly eight years, Bullen switched to the organ after his father sold the keyboard instrument to his son’s school.
“I made up a couple of songs and played them at lunchtime,” he said. “They were quite the hit with the teachers and my classmates who encouraged me to keep playing. It was at that moment that I decided that playing the organ was better than getting my head kicked in at the karate school which I was also going to at the time and taking classical piano lessons which I hated.”
Honing his skills on the 400-pound 61-note keyboard Hammond B-3 organ and Leslie Tone cabinet for sound reproduction which his father purchased, Bullen was a regular fixture at hotels and local clubs before migrating to the Greater Toronto Area in 1980 to join his mother.
On his second day in Canada, Bullen bought a piano and synthesizer and two weeks later, was on the road with Robert E. Lee playing rock and roll.
In the last three decades, Bullen has produced over 150 albums and collaborated with several successful artists, including Canadian rhythm & blues singer, Deborah Cox; Trinidad & Tobago-born musician/composer, Anslem Douglas and late British-born pianist/composer/arranger, Washington Savage.
The founder of Thunder Dome Sounds and publishing company QDB Music, Bullen was the Uptown Jazz Festival and 2008 International Performing Arts for All artistic director and the Golden Soul Classics Show, Athens Paralympics EPP Production and Harry Jerome Awards musical director.
It’s not surprising that Bullen’s two sons are following his footsteps.
Tre-Michael is a drummer while Quincy – who he taught to play the piano – is an accomplished guitarist, drummer, bassist and singer who performs three different genres of music – jazz, techno and blues.
“My father passed on the love of music to me and I am so happy to do the same for my sons,” said Bullen who is completing a new CD, Spice Island. “The bonding relationship I have with my sons is something I really cherish. When we go down into the basement, we have amazing fun around music. That’s my enjoyment.”
CTV Canada AM early edition host and news anchor, Marci Ien, was presented with the Planet Africa Media Award.
The award-winning media practitioner is celebrating her 35th year in the journalism industry.
“I started off doing a kids show when I was just 10 years old and, along the way, I thought I wouldn’t make it this far,” said Ien, who travelled to Sierra Leone in 2008 on behalf of Journalists for Human Rights. “But, I would get a letter from someone or an award like this to let me know I am doing a good job and my work is recognized. For me every award that I receive is different and special.”
Planet Africa Awards were also presented to spoken word artist and motivational speaker, Dwayne Morgan; chartered professional accountant Yemisi Ogunjimi; Global Community Alliance president, Moses Pratt; Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada president, Lanre Tunji-Ajayi; Canada-Africa Community Health Alliance founding president, Dr. Don Kilby; lawyer & partner, Frank Walwyn; Ontario Black History Society president, Rosemary Sadlier; New Life Covenant Centre pastor Bishop Canute Blake, Channels Television chairman and chief executive officer, John Momoh; Taibu Health Centre executive director, Libean Gebremikael; optometrist Victor Obasuyi; Oando PLC group chief executive, Wale Tinbu; filmmaker and entrepreneur, Frances-Anne Solomon and sisters Vanessa Morgan and Celina Mziray, who were Amazing Race finalists this year.