Alcohol nearly ruined Jim and Pat Henman’s lives. In Jim’s case, the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Famer saw no other choice but to turn his back on booze 37 years ago. His sister Pat and her daughter Maia were almost killed by a drunk driver in a horrific head-on car crash near their home on a B.C. highway three-and-a-half years ago.
Both are still recovering from the carnage. A crushed sternum, three fractured vertebrae and multiple broken ribs are among a list of devastating injuries Pat had to overcome. A subsequent life-saving surgery removed 6.9 metres of her intestines. The accomplished actress and singer was left with damaged vocal chords and couldn’t sing for a year following the crash.
The incident served not only as a life-alteringevent for Pat, but similarly so for Jim and their eight siblings, most of whom still reside not thatfar from their family
homesteads in Clam Harbour and Waverley. In the end, it served to draw them closer.
Fast forward to last summer. They were together for the first time making music in a recording studio. For Jim, a founding member of the iconic Canadian rock band April Wine, it was long overdue. Their late parents Bill and Julie (who remained an active choir member at the age of 88) ensured music was a permanent fixture in the Henman household.
Had Jim continued drinking, he’s sure he wouldn’t have been around for
the family album.
“I can say with certainty that this wouldn’t have happened if I did,” said Henman, who at 70 years old is the oldest sibling.
“It really did bring us together. It was emotional to sing with Pat and to even hear her singing again. I think of all she’s been through and I didn’t know that she could sing like that.”
For two weeks the Henmans collaborated on their debut album in a Dartmouth recording studio. Released in November, Edge of Heaven serves as a family jewel, a collection of 10 deeply personal songs that touch on topics of the heart: love, loss, family ties are among a few. Even their mother makes an appearance on the album. A recording of her singing In the Chapel In the Moonlight at age 88 serves as the album’s bonus track.
Proceeds of the album are going to MADD Canada. For Pat, it’s a way to give back to a group that proved to be her rock from the beginning of her ordeal, offering
her and her family emotional support through her rehabilitation and the painful legal proceedings following the crash.
“MADD reached out to us when we were grieving our minds and our bodies,” said Pat. “I can’t say enough about how they helped in our recovery.”
She recorded two songs on the album: You, and It Can Wait.
“Each of these songs, they talk about what we’ve gone through. It Can Wait, it really did come out of what happened to me threeand- a-half years ago and the support I received from my husband and family.
“I really wanted to say, ‘Look, I have one life to live today. Now it’s about being the person I want to be. I don’t have to do everything today.’” The album features polished offerings from Jim and his sister Jean, among the family’s mostseasoned musicians. Myles Goodwyn, who’s been like a brother to Jim since the pair founded April Wine, makes an appearance on the album. But the experience offered a rare
opportunity for the career musician to step away from the spotlight, savouring the fruits of his siblings’ labour.
“So many of us have had a career in the performing arts,” said Jim. “We thought, let’s make it happen. We worked together as a family, deciding that Joan and Steve would sing on the album. I’m proud of their contribution, the talents that they bring to the album.”
He figures his mom and dad would be, too.
“They were wonderful parents, the reason why we still love music, we’ve remained close.
“My mom, she had 10 kids, she was 4-foot-11. Imagine that. She lived on her own until she died at 93. She worked her legs off for us, teaching us what love, devotion and strength really means.”
To find out about Edge of Heaven or to purchase the album, visit: www.henmancd.com