Stars Making a Social Impact: How Jacqueline Auguste and the Canadian Rock Band ‘Across The Board’ are helping to support those struggling with cancer
“Rock The Cure” is a charity rock and roll concert founded by Across The Board front-woman and breast cancer survivor, Jacqueline Auguste, in cooperation with MC2 Music Media in Toronto. As a musician, physician and cancer survivor, Jacqueline wanted to combine her passion for music and philanthropy together into a special concert featuring some of Toronto’s best female rockers, in support of breast cancer research. Diagnosed in the summer of 2018 with breast cancer, Jacqueline was only two weeks into her chemotherapy protocol when she and her youngest daughter took a team of 40 supporters on the CIBC “Run For The Cure” in Toronto. “This year we hope to combine the run and the concert in to a larger project and welcome musicians, music fans and cancer survivors and their families to join us in raising funds during Breast Cancer Awareness Month”.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the members of Across The Board. Across The Board (ATB) is an award-winning Canadian indie rock band of multi-instrumental musicians. They have over 700 youtube videos and several global and national indie music awards, including an Indie Music Channel Hall of Fame award for charting #4 on the iTunes Rock chart with their 2018 album “Sonic Boom”, and charting top 20 just hours after the release of their 2019 album “Wild Ones” which they showcased at a sold-out concert at Toronto’s iconic Opera House in March of 2019. ATB was nominated for a GMA Covenant Award in 2019, 4 Josie music awards in 2018 and will be hosting Toronto’s “Rock The Cure” breast cancer fundraiser for CIBC’s Run For The Cure this fall (2019) in Toronto. Showcased yearly at Indie Music Week 2017–2019 and for Canadian Music Week in 2017, ATB has crossed the country and back on Via Rail’s artist on board program in both 2017 and 2019. With three silver medals from Global Music Awards for their newest album “Wild Ones”, multiple appearances on syndicated television, and terrestrial/college and internet radio presence with their music, as well as another successful summer tour in 2019 — ATB will be releasing their 6th independent studio album “Love Potion” in 2020. One of the hardest working independent bands in Canada- as seen by their multiple collaborations and social media presence, Across The Board is a great example of innovation and entrepreneurship in the independent music space in Canada and globally. Across The Board offers a vibrant stage show, an eclectic Youtube and Facebook video experience and a solid social media footprint spanning the globe. From garage jams and campfire jam sessions, through their popular Youtube cover series “Pick Up & Play” and on to their original musical catalogue of rootsy and gutsy contemporary rock with a nostalgic edge, Across The Board is an experience, a reality series and band of Canadian rockers neatly packaged into a company of musical troubadours who never cease to push the edge of the contemporary music biz envelope with their instrumental antics and creativity.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
Across The Board started as a Youtube band in 2013 — a collection of eclectic artists from all genres and walks of life came together to create a series of cover videos and jam together. This snowballed into a regular weekly production and gathered momentum through 2015 when our fans began asking us if we had original music. The core group wrote some songs and our debut album “Jane On Fire” was released June 14, 2016 — our first indie project, recorded and produced in our own Youtube studio in Toronto. From there, we began touring and creating more original music to the tune of 5 original albums with our newest project, “Wild Ones” being release this past May. Since then, ATB has toured Canada twice, and continues to win independent music awards across the globe.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story?
In 2018 we had our CD Release Party in Toronto for our album “SONIC BOOM”. It was a sold out show and it happened during the worst wind storm in Toronto’s recent history. People were trapped in their cars by falling poles and trees, ambulances were everywhere. There was a power outage, yet still — the venue managed to rig the entire venue and sound stage with two generators and rewire everything to work on gas! They went and bought ice for the bar and in 90 minutes transformed the venue into a fully lit, fully powered show! Folks braved the weather, the obstacles and the “apocalypse” outside to make the show!
In terms of funny moments, we were playing at the Bovine in Toronto — an iconic rock venue, and Jackie was wearing these very tall platform heels. Realizing she had to somehow deal with her guitar pedals with these, heels, she tried to use the tip toe of her heel to hit her tuner and slipped and landed right on her bum! Ben helped her up, she got to her feet and then yelled “Rock On!” in the mic and went on with the show!
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
This is a great question — here are my five top pieces of advice for young or new artists:
#1 Start your social media activity immediately after you decided to do your project, create your band, your brand, your business, whatever your project is: document your journey — this appeals to people who have a similar dream or goal and they can be inspired and learn from your process, while you also create a solid fan base to continue to inspire you. We spent so much time worrying about our brand and our presentation and how we should show ourselves to our fanbase that we lost out on the first year of documenting our growth as a band. You don’t have to be “perfect”- just be you, and show the development and progress!
#2 Don’t be afraid to ask questions — reach out to mentors — don’t reinvent the wheel when you can research how others have achieved what you are attempting to do. Don’t be shy — get involved in the community online and in real life — talk, ask for advice, collaborate, network. We can’t operate in a bubble. I remember being worried about being good enough to perform with certain collaborators or being accepted in the music community here in Toronto. So we spent a great deal of time hiding behind our Youtube channel border when we could have been out front of stage building a fanbase and meeting other industry folks and artists.
#3 WRITE LOTS OF MUSIC — for bands this is crucial, never stop writing, you might find yourself without any material and a good opportunity to release something might be missed — always have something on the go. This is good advice for freelancers too — don’t forget to look for your next project BEFORE you complete your current project.
#4 Don’t spend any time listening to the naysayers, or taking criticism from those who only wish to stop you from achieving your goals. Don’t let jealousy, sour grapes or those who would wish you to fail to even weight in on your mindset — ever. This can be tough — because as artists we are always a bit concerned about what people think of us by design — there are charts, awards, ratings, likes and views — all of these are “counted” and “calculated”. But every once in awhile, you will meet someone who uses you to get ahead in their own career and completely take you for granted. Suddenly they feel the need to belittle you, criticize the project, criticize your music. It might be a combination of jealousy or simple resentment on their behalf — but it’s not your problem. This is THEIR problem. Don’t get wrapped up in their inner struggles, just keep shining and pushing on!
#5 Don’t burn any bridges — keep your cool, hold it together, be patient. Always be professional, and don’t lash out — certainly not online! Take the higher ground! Always. This might follow #4 primarily — the rogue former bandmate who find the need to diss the band that supported his musical dream for years. In the end — we are remembered by our responses to adversity, our behavior during crises or conflicts — we are remembered more for our bad behavior than our great music — ie. Justin Bieber. Always put your best foot forward.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
(Jackie) I think the person who has the most profound impact on my life has been my mother. She grew up in Turkey — a muslim country — in a broken family, her parents having divorced when she was 2. She was raised by her grandmother and managed to find her own strength and inspiration to pursue her dreams, first as a tennis star, and then as physician — leaving Turkey to come to Canada to follow her dream of becoming a psychiatrist with barely any knowledge of English. She became one of the foremost experts in elder abuse and in the world and travelled the globe giving lectures to thousands of health professionals. She met a boy, set up a home in small city in Alberta, and raised three children, 7 grandchildren and a great grandchild before passing away a couple of years ago.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
Our most recent project is the upcoming “Rock The Cure” female-fronted rock concert in support of breast cancer coming up here in Toronto on October 11, 2019 at the iconic Opera House.
We are involved in several other projects, including a project called “She’s Listening” in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada. It brings independent female artists from all over Canada together for a series of charity concerts. “Along with the music, “She’s Listening” helps raise awareness of ovarian cancer, — — one of the deadliest women’s cancer. There is no early detection test for the disease and the signs and symptoms are difficult to recognize. We lose 5 women a day to ovarian cancer in Canada. Outcomes have not improved in over 50 years because investment in research has lagged behind that of other diseases and cancers. Ovarian Cancer Canada is the only charity in Canada solely dedicated to overcoming ovarian cancer: a disease, which is often overlooked and underfunded. We created a 5 song EP in 2018, with a title track called “She’s Listening” and 4 never-before-published acoustic tracks from some of our original songs. We have recorded a music video for the title track and all of this is available from our bandcamp page with proceeds going to Ovarian Cancer Canada.
We also created a project called “Indigal” which is the Canadian Female Indie Artist Collective. We gather 9 Indigals, and 8 to 9 “indiguys” together for an album creation project every two years in support of the Humber River Hospital Foundation in Toronto. In 2015 we created a Christmas album for charity and raised over $10,000 for the Foundation. This year we created an album in celebration of Canada 150- our 150th national birthday — highlighting the music of some of Canada’s most iconic musicians including The Tragically Hip, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Alanis Morissette, Blue Rodeo and many more — covering these with our Indigal “twist”.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
“Rock The Cure” is charity rock and roll concert founded by Across The Board front-woman and breast cancer survivor, Jacqueline Auguste, in cooperation with MC2 Music Media in Toronto. As a musician, physician and cancer survivor, Jacqueline wanted to combine her passion for music and philanthropy together into a special concert featuring some of Toronto’s best female rockers, in support of breast cancer research. Diagnosed in the summer of 2018 with breast cancer, Jacqueline was only two weeks into her chemotherapy protocol when she and her youngest daughter took a team of 40 supporters on the CIBC “Run For The Cure” in Toronto. “This year we hope to combine the run and the concert in to a larger project and welcome musicians, music fans and cancer survivors and their families to join us in raising funds during Breast Cancer Awareness Month”.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
First of all — come out to the concert if you are in the Toronto area. If not, please support us by donating to Rock The Cure through our facebook page and Eventbrite ticket site by purchasing tickets — let us know you are doing so and we will distribute your tickets to young artists and other breast cancer survivors who would love to come to the show.
The event page is here.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
This goes back to my list of 5 things young artists should do early to propel their career:
- Do not be afraid to share your story on social media — blog, vlog, stories, your musical journey — just do it. Hit record and go!
- Write a lot of music. Never stop writing music. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and collaborate with other musicians — always keep learning and honing your writing craft.
- Ask questions — reach out to other artists and get help, performing, producing, creating, writing, social media, promotions — don’t reinvent the wheel right away — ask questions first, then put your own spin on things.
- Don’t get stuck mining through trolls and naysayers — stand your ground, thank them for their input and MOVE ON.
- Don’t be afraid to do YOU. Be yourself. Don’t let people make you into something that is uncomfortable or not a good fit for you. Be you.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would create a Music-For-All foundation to assist young artists in the early stages of their career — online marketing, branding, writing, performing, booking and collaborating — I would create a peer-driven free service of artist-to-artist advice through classes, ebooks, social media and in-person sessions that could be recreated by artists in any community worldwide.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
My mother’s motto: “I want to be able to say that, in my life, I drank a hell of a lot of champagne” — translation — -always be celebrating! She showed me that neither space, time, age, circumstances, religion, ethnicity, language or gender will keep you from your dreams.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Joan Jett — she has inspired me to break barriers and plough through resistance to continue to do what I love. I recently wrote a song about her, titled “Joan Jett”, that will be coming out as a single in conjunction with our Rock The Cure concert October 11, 2019. I would love to sit down with Joan Jett and pick her musical mind!