Songs of love, from a widow’s heart
Grace Henderson celebrates broadcaster’s life by booking concert
By Jamie Hall, edmontonjournal.com
October 9, 2010
EDMONTON – In the days after her husband Warren Henderson died, Grace Henderson found solace in the keys of the baby grand piano he had bought for her and drew comfort from the words and music she crafted as she played.
She wrote 18 songs over the course of a year, and last year Grace worked with some of the best musicians in the province to record 11 of them for an album titled Thirty-nine.
Not all of the song’s lyrics are laden with grief; some are happy, upbeat. And not every song is about her husband, who was one of the most respected broadcasters in Edmonton when he died in 2006 at the age of 50. Still, when she sings those songs at the album’s official release on Tuesday, Nov. 2, it will be all about Warren one more time.
Henderson has booked the Winspear Centre for the album launch with the goal of filling every seat and giving all the proceeds from the event to charity. “Since Warren didn’t get to live, I wanted to find a way to help others live. It seemed like the best way to honour the love that we shared, and to express my thankfulness for the time we had together.”
At the time of his death, Warren was the assistant news director for Corus, a family of radio stations that includes 630 CHED, Cool 880-CHQT, 92.5 CKNG’s Joe FM and 103.9-CISN Country. Warren had battled a number of health problems; he had lost a leg to diabetes and was on the waiting lists for heart and kidney transplants.
The day he died, Grace was waiting for him at their home in Millet, unaware he had suffered a fatal heart attack at a theatre in Edmonton. The porch light was burning, as always, a signal that she was waiting for him to come home. He never arrived, leaving her a widow at the age of 35. They had been together for 8-1/2 years.
“We planned on having a large family and living happily ever after,” she says. “All our plans evaporated in the moment I found out he was dead. I was determined not to become a tragic version of my former self. I wanted to find a way to help others, so that I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself.
“The idea for the concert has been simmering in my head for the last three years. After I wrote the songs, I thought: ‘I have to do something with these,’ ” she says.
Grace admits ticket sales have not been going well. So far, about 100 of the possible 1,700 seats have been sold for the event, which will be MCed by CISN-FM DJ Chris Scheetz, who is also Grace’s cousin.
“This is about raising money and doing it in Warren’s memory, in a community he loved and was passionate about,” she says. “For me, there is some closure, of course, but it is a celebration, too.”
Proceeds will go to Samaritan’s Purse for a project that will provide clean water to homes in developing nations.