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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 52 - From Rocks to Rock Stars

1 Apr 2009

Hey everyone,

Happy Spring!  Get ready for all the good stuff - spring rain, spring flowers, warmer weather.  Oh yea!

Just to backtrack, I want to tell you about my M&M month (Mining & Music) -- March -- which has turned out to be a month of Rocks to Rock Stars! 

As you will recall in the March episode of KaTsZoNe, I was rockin' right at the beginning of March at the Prospectors Developers Association of Canada's (PDAC) tradeshow and conference.  I learned a lot from various speakers who spoke about investment prospects and the state of the mining industry, in the midst of the current economy.  Lots of mining companies showed their wares, information, and updated current and prospective investors about various mining projects worldwide. 

Almost two weeks after my attendance at the PDAC's conference, I was rockin' again at the Canadian Music Week (CMW).  I spent three days at the CMW conference at the Royal York Hotel and that was where I found a rock star!

Who's the rock star I saw, you ask?  One of the keynote speakers was Gene Simmons, co-founder of the rock group, KISS.  I remember KISS when I was a kid growing up in the '70s.  Perhaps what I remembered most was their crazy, black and white reptilian make-up and costumes.  I wonder how many people thought about how long their career would last.  And now, in 2009, here was Gene Simmons, a very entertaining, likeable speaker who had a wealth of experience and shared a small bit of it.  Without a note or script in his hand, eventually, the audience knew that Gene Simmons was not simply rambling stories of his past - although he did show a savvy video of KISS' amazing success as a rock band and their extraordinarily successful merchandise business.  At this conference, Gene had an agenda.

Gene Simmons, the rock star, was now a scout at CMW to scout for Canadian bands which he can mold and turn into hopefully, something huge!  He planned to watch and listen to several bands that weekend, amongst 600 performers which were scheduled to perform during CMW.  News releases already revealed that Gene was in Canada to seek, sign and develop three Canadian bands (in the first year) for his new Canadian record label, Simmons Records, in partnership with Universal Music Canada. 

Gene's outstanding entrepreneurial skills is an example of how success of his calibre, as a musician, is more than just writing, singing and playing music.  His advice:  Musicians/Performers have to be passionate about who they are and what they do.  They must develop a relationship with their audience and fans - people skills are essential.  And, they also have to understand the marketplace - that's why it's called the music BUSINESS.  Having said that, he did not hesitate to  accept CDs from anyone in the audience.  He was, as usual, doing business. 



Gene Simmons - A keynote speaker at Canadian Music Week, March 12, 2009

For me, and possibly for many participants at CMW, it is not just a conference where those in the music industry come together teach and to learn.  It is definitely a networking opportunity.  In the past, and this year as well, I met songwriters/musicians, promoters, producers, music publishers, college professors and students, etc. whom I had not known before.  I have kept in touch with a couple people from two years ago.

This year, it was a real treat to meet up with two people I know, but, did not meet at CMW.  Jaimie, who is a student at Durham College in the Entertainment Business Management Program, was a very busy CMW volunteer!  We saw each other in two sessions - one on promoters and another presented by singer/songwriter, Randy Bachman, who talked about his hit song, "Takin' Care of Business".  Jaimie and I met on November 10, 2006 at the Teddy Geiger concert in Toronto and have kept in touch since then!  In many ways, I have learned about music through Jaimie's experiences, so, it is a thrill to know that she is enjoying her studies and have attended so many concerts.  Oftentimes, I am living vacariously through her!  It was a real treat to connect with Jaimie at the conference and I'm sure it won't be our last opportunity.  I should also add that Jaimie has been writing articles, as a music critic for her college, and I'm looking forward to reading some of her articles.  One, in particular, as she told me that she was setting up an interview with a producer (which I won't name), but, we happened to see him in the producer's panel.  So,  I was really excited for her, and I know that the interview did happen, albeit not at CMW.  I think Jaimie will do very well for herself!

Another person I bumped into at CMW was singer/songwriter/producer, Allister Bradley.  I saw Allister at the session featuring a panel of producers.  I saw him perform at one of the monthly events called, "Songwriters Expo", in 2007, which is organized by a friend, Monique Barry.  I did not meet Allister at the time, but, the next day, I went to see him perform at the Humber Songwriters Showcase and met him at that time.  I happened meet another performer that same night, named Bunmi Adeoye, and learned that Allister was going to produce her first CD.  Bunmi really impressed me with the songs she sang, so, I kept in touch with her for awhile.  Finally, she released her debut CD and I ended up buying three copies of it.  During my conversations with Allister at CMW, I told him I thought he did a fabulous job of producing Bunmi's CD.  I also asked him a couple questions about it, which he answered.  How often do you get to make comments and ask questions about someone's CD?  It's a real treat.  By the way, I still do keep in touch with Bunmi - usually on MySpace.  Hope you will check out Allister and Bunmi's websites.

As tired as I was, I wished the conference didn't end.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot!  And, it's not a bad thing to get out of my cubicle whenever I have a chance!  LOL.

CMW was not the end of my rockin' experiences in March.  On the last week of its exhibition, my co-worker, Helenie, and I, went to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) to see a feature exhibition on diamonds!  Unfortunately, if you are reading about it now and were thinking about going to see it, it's too late!  The last day of this special exhibition was March 22nd.  But, not to worry, in case you thought you missed out on diamonds because April is Diamond Month!

Let me first take you back to a past episode of KaTsZoNe which I wrote in April 1, 2005, Issue 5.  I have taken just an excerpt - the full text can be found at

DIAMONDS - April Birthstone


Root from Greek word, "adamas" which means unconquerable and indestructible.

For centuries, diamonds have been associated with wealth, power, mystery, magical powers, beauty, love and romance

Diamond engagement ring

First introduced by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477

First River-Bed Diamond Discovery

First river-bed (alluvial) diamonds deposits were probably discovered in India, around 800 B.C., which supplied the world's diamonds until the 18th century

Earliest Diamond Jewellery

A Hungarian queen's crown set with uncut diamonds, dating back to approximately 1074

You may have heard stories about various famous diamonds.  Such diamonds may have had famous owners or faired as one of the largest or perhaps the most flawless. 

Stored in a special walk-in Gems Vault amongst other special priceless diamonds at the ROM's Nature of Diamonds exhibit
(surrounded by ROM's security guards and a police officer outside the vault, I might add) was one such famous diamond called The Incomparable Diamond.  When I wrote about famous diamonds in 2005, I had not seen one.  This time, it was different because I had the opportunity to see this brilliant gem with my own naked eye.

The Incomparable Diamond

If you ask various sources about how a musician became truly famous, you will find a lot of stories.  You may find out how that person had discovered their musical talent at very early enough.  Perhaps, someone had a great music mentor who developed their rough talent.  There's usually a story about how that person was "discovered" and then, as people say, "the rest is history".

Similarly, there is also a 'rags to riches' story of The Incomparable Diamond, the third largest diamond in the world.  The Nature of Diamonds exhibit at the ROM tells the story of a young girl who was playing outside her uncle's house in a pile of rubble in the town located in the
town of Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Sources reveal that the girl found the diamond, weighing 890 carats in its rough state, in a pile of rubble consisted of mine dumps from the nearby MIBA Diamond Mine which had been rejected because it was it was apparently too bulky to be worth scanning for diamonds.  The girl gave the diamond to her uncle who sold it to local African diamond dealers and was eventually purchased by a De Beers buyer in Antwerp.  Then, De Beers sold the diamond to Donald Zales of Zales Corporation, who unveiled it in November 1984, for the company's celebration of its 75th (diamond) anniversary. 

The 890 carat diamond transformed into The Incomparable Diamond, a 407.48 carat golden-coloured kite-shaped diamond, graded as flawless and fancy deep brownish-yellow by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), as well as fourteen smaller "satellite" diamonds.  

While I was staring at The Incomparable Diamond in its case, I overheard a young heard ask her father how much he thought it was worth as there was no information on display.  The father did not make a guess; the mother said, it was priceless.  I smiled.  Based on an article I read, apparently, in 2002, The Incomparable Diamond was put up for sale, with a starting bid of $15 million U.S.  The item was not actually named, but,
its Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certificate and stone specifications were listed, and the auction ran out with the diamond unsold.  Was it really The Incomparable Diamond?  Hmmm.....

Thanks for joining me for this episode of KaTsZoNe.  Hope you had fun and thanks for hanging with me!

As we head into April, I'm going to get geared up for the Spring Motorcycle Show!!!  Hope to tell you all about that later.

Have a wonderful April, my friends.  And, have a very blessed Passover and Easter!

Katherine (KK)

Email me at katherine@katszone.com



Check out past episodes of KaTsZone at:



Websites referred to above:

Gene Simmons' new record label -

Allister Bradley - www.myspace.com/allisterbradley, www.allisterbradley.com

Bunmi Adeoye - www.myspace.com/bunmisings

The Incomparable Diamond -