Idol maker is a York fine arts grad

When the next crop of young singers looking for their big break hit the “Canadian Idol” stage next month, they’ll have York alumnus Mark Lalama (BFA ‘87) to thank in part for making them sound as good as they do when the TV cameras start to roll, wrote Niagara This Week May 18. Lalama, 43, is the on-screen pianist tickling the ivories when the singers grab the microphone to give it their all for a chance to win a recording contract which they hope will catapult them to fame and fortune.

The Welland native also works with the young singers behind the scenes, coaching them with Deborah Byrd, also vocal coach for “American Idol”, to give them some insights to what the judges are looking for.

"You are trying to make the songs sound as good as possible," said Lalama in an interview at Saint Paul Catholic High School before he spoke to students about the music industry. "You try to bring out their strengths. Their individual artistic talents should shine through. When that happens, it’s magical."

For Lalama, music has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. After graduating from Centennial High School in Welland in 1982, Lalama went on to study music at York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Since graduating, Lalama has lived in Toronto, performing close to 300 gigs a year around Niagara and the GTA. He has performed with some of the biggest names in the industry: Tony Bennett, Amanda Marshall, Olivia Newton-John and Nelly Furtado.

Beare hopes for greater police professionalism under Blair

Policing and politics expert Professor Margaret Beare of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said a memo written by former intelligence detective Garry Carter about police surveillance of gay activists who associated with Toronto Police Board Chair Susan Eng in 1991 and recently leaked to The Globe and Mail, supports the suggestion of a police environment of "get the board, bring down the board, find dirt on the board,” wrote the Globe May 18. Homophobia among police, she said, should have been eliminated before the early 1990s. "The officers take their marching orders from what will be tolerated and rewarded," Beare said. "Hopefully, under Chief [Bill] Blair, there will be a greater deal of professionalism and accountability, rather than the bully boy tactics we have seen."

On air

  • Ron Burke, professor emeritus of organizational behaviour & industrial relations at York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about a new study on workaholics on Calgary’s CHQR radio May 17.
  • Former York kinesiology student Trish Stratus, who retired last year as a professional wrestler, was interviewed on CBC Television’s "Gill Deacon Show" May 17 about her new career as a reality TV host.