Having children was not an option for us but thankfully, my husband Barry had three before we met! And thankfully, one of them lives near us!
When our daughter Lara and her husband Brad had Stella, it was the first grandchild born near us, and we were ecstatic. To say the least, it ignited the kid in me like never before. I couldn’t wait to do the things with Stella that I had loved doing with my family as a child — reading, singing, making up songs, dancing, and putting photos and keepsakes in special albums. It was all about time together with people who loved me. I became a bit overwhelmed with how to recreate some of those memories with Stella in this day and age. I wanted to foster a meaningful interactive relationship with her, not just buy her stuff that would potentially distract and entertain her. Selfishly, I wanted something that would be really enjoyable and engaging for BOTH of us! What I wanted wasn’t out there –- that I could see. So, I decided to do something about it.
It seemed the perfect time to do something with the song that I had made up for my nieces and nephews decades earlier — a song about them being loved, no matter what. The song finally morphed into the idea to create something beyond the song that was fun, meaningful, simple and beautiful. Something engaging that would create intimate moments with our granddaughter. Something interactive that she could personalize. I wanted to create experiences that were fresh, fun and meaningful, experiences that would never be boring and would foster quality time with her. It was to be an easy tool to inspire singing and dancing or making up verses in the blanks of the book and song. It also would be like an old-fashioned photo album where special memories were stored. Most importantly, the book and its song would be an educational tool to help her understand both unconditional love as well as normalize the challenges of life and the character that comes as a result of trials. With the adults in mind, the book would also be an opportunity to alleviate ‘mommy or daddy guilt’ or if need be, make light of those ‘challenging times or behaviors’ in a way that would be natural and healing. By creating a fill-in-the-blanks aspect for parents and kids to personalize, the hope was that it would be a unique way to help both parents and kids talk openly about challenging times or put a fresh and fun spin on them, but in a way that love was predominate. In a nutshell, it would be an ongoing and living keepsake! A reason to dance, sing and make up songs — as well as a learning tool — all in one!
I was quickly told that I wasn’t alone in wanting varied and unique experiences with the kids in my life. Others seemed keen to have a unique tool that they could personalize for special memories but also to talk about those trials that create character. And I definitely was not alone in dreading the blaring and glaring devices that often entertain children. Moms especially seemed to crave a way to express (and have some fun with) those ‘challenging times’, and to do it in love. A few months later, I finally scratched the words from my head onto a paper napkin and asked friends who are professional singers to sing it. All I remember was having goose bumps and teary eyes at the same time.
And that was the beginning…
I have an extensive background in the media and my husband is a professor who has written many books and songs. We were ready for something fun to do and we were encouraged to share it. We sought the counsel of early child development professionals and a lot of moms, dads and kids!
Those same friends, along with new ones, showcased below, have so freely and graciously partnered with us to turn that paper towel into what it is today. To them, I JUST LOVE YOU!
As you will see in the book and hear in the song, they were the best talented team imaginable and made it so beautiful! We hope and pray it is as much fun and meaningful for you as it has been for us to create and share it! We look forward on this website to hearing and seeing all the ways you are experiencing I Just Love You! Please visit the BE INVOLVED section to have some fun with us!!!
JULIANN WHITNEY : AUTHOR & CREATOR
Born and raised on a farm in the prairies, Juliann saw a window to the world through pictures and music. She earned a degree in Communication Studies and a diploma in Broadcast Journalism, and worked for two decades in the media as a reporter, anchor, producer and director. Her career included stints with CBC Television and Radio, History Channel and Life Network along with a few publications. After meeting her husband, Dr. Barry Whitney, she was ready to settle in and go back to her roots and life’s simple pleasures. Now committed to being a ‘pj entrepreneur’ she educates on smart personal care as a Vice President and Independent Consultant with Arbonne International and helps others work in their pjs from home. For fun, she continues to pursue meaningful creative projects, loves learning with and from Barry, interacting with her beloved parents, siblings and family, enjoys doing anything outdoors, experimenting with ‘clean foods’, playing with their animals and now – Stella!
DR BARRY WHITNEY: EDITOR
Husband of Juliann Whitney and an accomplished author, editor, musician and educator, Dr. Barry Whitney was the ideal person to be involved in every step of the project. Barry earned his Honours B.A. from Carleton University and his Ph.D. from McMaster University. He was Professor of Christian Studies at the University of Windsor for 30 years, having taught several thousand students in a wide variety of courses. He has published more than 480 items and also edited 28 issues of an international philosophy journal, overseeing the publication of 300 articles and book reviews. He now lives in Ottawa as Professor Emeritus and is enjoying composing “spiritual meditations” with voice and music, and is working on his website to make available some of his publications, lectures and original music. He’s especially proud of his wife Juliann for her efforts to bring to life her I Just Love You song and its amazing, fun, and meaningful companion book.
Lead Photographer: Melissa Leroux Photography
Melissa is an Ottawa native and was first inspired to pursue photography after falling in love with styles and images that moved her. She received her diploma in photography before digital photography was even taught in school. Her photographic interests include portraits, weddings, babies and families and most recently, commercial photography. Melissa is also an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International and enjoys sharing the benefits of the world of health and wellness. She enjoys the simple things in life with her husband Jesse.
It was at Melissa’s house that Juliann first wrote I Just Love You on a paper towel and she was one of the first to sing it! She was instrumental in creating the scenarios of the scenes for the book and capturing the personalities and family spirit in the photographs. She loved being involved and played a significant role in the book and feels it was an opportunity she didn’t want miss. She especially likes how families can personalize their own verse and chapter of the song and book. Melissa’s attitude, graciousness and joy was unparalleled.
Graphic Design: Tanya Monpetit
I Just Love You is a fulfillment of a dream for Tanya as she has always desired to work on a book. Born and raised in Ottawa, Tanya has always been passionate by art and beautiful things. Working full time as a senior graphic designer for the past 18 years, she is also an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International and enjoys helping people make better health choices. Tanya loves cheering for her husband who runs marathons, her son who plays hockey and playing princess “dress up” with her daughter. She also appreciates painting, being in nature and reading books as well as creating custom made jewelry. For her, I Just Love You allowed her to express herself as a graphic artist in a unique way that was meaningful to her as a mother. For her it is also a reminder to stay young and playful and enjoy every moment with her little ones. Tanya played a key role in making the book beautiful and worked with joy, love and passion to make it so.
Project Counsel: Robin Moir of Eating Crow Records
Robin is a mom, grandma, singer, songwriter, producer, director, music industry professional as well as a mentor to many. Having her a part of the I Just Love You team as an advisor has been a huge blessing. To say the least, Robin is a legend in the Music Industry. In 2009 she was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Musicians’ Association of Ottawa-Gatineau, Local 180. Her background at Isle of Skye Productions, working with a wide range of musical endeavours, helped prepare her for this new adventure. Robin began her career as a singer/songwriter spending many years performing concerts across Canada and the USA. In 1967, she performed for Queen Elizabeth II on July 1st during Canada’s centennial celebrations on Parliament Hill. In the late 1970s, she was nominated for a Juno Award for Best New Female Vocalist. She signed on as Executive Producer and host of the CBC’s highly acclaimed weekend series, Cottage Country in 1996 and has written, directed and produced more than 80 half-hour television episodes and two one-hour documentaries. Most recently, she co-founded Eating Crow Records, and in 2004, she was awarded the Queens Jubilee medal. Robin played a key role in this project with her wise counsel from the very beginning and her contribution was invaluable.
Produced and Arranged by Dave Poulin: StudioNINE
For his 11th birthday Dave Poulin was given an AGS monophonic tape recorder, and the course of his life was set. His guitar lessons, church and school choirs and a high school band paid off. His band, The Five D, performed for the Queen in 1967, opened for The Who in 1968 and had 3 Top Ten records over their two and half year run. Dave moved into building recording studios, and worked as a production manager for a local radio station, writing and recording commercials. He then became a house engineer at Ottawa’s largest recording studio, Marc Productions. In 2002, studioNINE became a reality. Dave’s personal studio is a busy place where he records and produces music, does video, photography and web design. He still plays music of course, leading his 9-piece band, The Yohawks. Dave enjoyed the challenge of arranging Juliann’s catchy song in the 4 different genres requested and working with the singers and choir who brought it to life. The project was a reunion of sorts for him as well. Dave first recorded Chantal Hackett as a talented teenager, and he has known Braiden Turner since she was a baby. Dave’s professionalism, experience, great humor and talent were highly valued in this project.
Blues Verse: Chantal Hackett
Chantal Hackett developed confidence as a young woman because of singing and it became her purpose when she realized she could help others. She went on not only as a singer/songwriter, and vocal coach but also founded Sing House Studios, a Vocal/Piano & Guitar School in Ottawa. She has over fifteen years of experience teaching and performing and has released two albums. She has a B.A. in Communications and graduated also from the Royal Conservatory of Music in classical piano and voice, at the highest level. She has performed at Carnegie Hall and Vienna, and sang backup vocals for Juno nominated singers Roch Voisine and David Gogo. She was also in a Motown band for 5 years. Chantal is devoted to her students and to her community and loves spending her time off with her fiancée, family and fur baby! She loves children and was therefore thrilled to be a part of this project. Chantal’s amazing voice is a perfect fit for the kick off of this adult-friendly song.
Classical Verse: Morgan Strickland
Morgan was the first professional singer to sing I Just Love You and instantly called it an “earworm”! Morgan is praised for her “jewel like tone” (Boston Globe) and “consistency of vocal beauty throughout her different emotional states” (Boston Musical Intelligencer). An active singer and teacher of singing, Morgan is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with a BMus degree and double Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy from the New England Conservatory in Boston. She has performed numerous leading roles, including Pamina in Die Zauberflote, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte.She sings actively across Canada, the US and Europe and was thrilled to be participating as the singer in the Classical verse and chorus director for the I Just Love You cd. Morgan contributed her heart, wisdom and talent to this project from the onset and her input was highly appreciated.
Country Verse: Braiden Turner: Blackwellband: courtesy of Eating Crow Records
Braiden is happiest when she is singing and writing music and has been so since she was a young girl. Braiden is the lead singer of the country vocal trio Blackwell along with singer/songwriter/guitarist Carey Blackwell and his brother, Dan Blackwell. She began her musical life as a child joining her mother Robin Moir on stage for her debut stage performance at the age of three (at Wayne Rostad’s Light Up The Night)! Her love of music continued through the study of piano and dance and as she says, “there is always something new and exciting to learn!” She and her bandmates own their recording and publishing company called Eating Crow Records and boast a catalogue of well over three-hundred songs and growing. Braiden and the Blackwell brothers plan to build the Blackwell Nation (#blackwellnation) song-by-song and fan-by-fan. Braiden was the first to put some notes to the I Just Love Yousong and one of the first to sing it. It is an honour to have Braiden, her mom, dad and son as part of the project!
Gospel ‘fill in the blanks’ Verse: Ulyn Small
Born in Trinidad, living in Ottawa for most of her adult life, Ulyn credits her mother for her passion for music. At age 13, she was introduced to Classical, Jazz and Opera by her adopted-by-love Bubbi. As life and family permitted over the past 15 years, Ulyn has performed as a member of the Opera Lyra, Freedom Opera Company and the Gospel Ensemble and has been chosen for various performances and festivals. Currently Ulyn is singing with the vocal ensemble, Voices of Praise. She works full time as a support worker at Christian Horizons. With the encouragement of her husband and their soon-to-be 7th child, she was excited to have shared in the I Just Love You Project. Her smokey beautiful Gospel voice was exactly what the song needed for the fill-in-the-blanks part and her heart is also cherished in this project.
Choir: Barrhaven Music Academy Choir
The first singers chosen and recorded for this project was a choir from Barrhaven Music Academy. This music school is comprised of a dedicated team of music teachers who share their gift and passion for music to students of all ages! Since co-owners Ashley Martyn and Nadia Zaid opened the school in 2012, it has grown exponentially, and has successfully established itself as a respected center for music education. They house over 350 students weekly with a waiting list of over 100 students, and offer a variety of programs including private classes, Tuneful Tots classes, band programs, vocal recording workshops and the BMA choir. The BMA choir is directed by renowned soprano Morgan Strickland and the children were thrilled to be a part of this project! Their voices create such joy in the choruses and we are so grateful for their participating and that of Nadia Zaid and Morgan Strickland.
OUTCLASSED WEB DESIGN & SOCIAL MEDIA LESSONS
WORVAS HILL CREATIVE
Laura Kelly Photography : www.laurakellyphotography.ca
Holly Anne Photography: www.hollyannephotography.com
Jennifer Murphy : www.jkmurphyphoto.com
Matt Mayer: http://mmfotografie.ca/home
Kelly Margaret Photography: www.kellymargaretphotography.com
Cover: Stella Devereaux
Blues verse: Aria Farley, Jasiel Coronero and Maria Achaki, Nicco Garland-Filoso and Lisa Garland | Luke Bayne and Darpan Ahluwalia, Ellie Khory, Ada Geniole | Matteo and Nicco Garland-Filoso | Eliana David
Blues chorus: Harold and Marg Blackmore, Tahlaya Offet | Sara, Joe and Ellie Khoury | Deana and Trace Wilkinson | Tyrone, Amy Farley, Sienna and Arya Farley, Brad, Lara and Stella Devereaux | Donna Johnson and AmmaLee & Ophelia Larson | Sig, Katie and Devin Charles | Classical verse: Josiah Cordonero and Maria Achaki | Xavier and Lilianan McCarthy | Micheal Wyman | Clark Vlasblom | Stella Devereaux |David and Rita Davenport, Claire Ray, London Gayle and Reese Davenport Stella and Lara Devereaux | Marnie Geniole | Chloe Cantusci
Classical chorus: Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir and Arnar Orri Gyflason | Laura Murphy, Jeff and Polly Walker | Peggy and Devlin Taillon | Kelly, Lucas and Cole Thorburn Sean, Jackie and Madiison McClements | Erin Hayward-McBane and Cara McBane | Sean, Kelly, Carter and Brady Flynn | Danny and Kristen Carter and baby
Country verse: Hudson and Becky Vierra | Nora and Alison Robillard | Max David and Katrina Paz-David | Felix King Stella Devereaux | Carter Bradley | Xavier and Jack McCarthy | Sullivan Grey
Country chorus: Amanda and Felix King | Angelo and Eliana David | Melissa Welch and Josiah Cordonero | Danielle, Teagan, Harper and Meris Lawver Robin Moir and Joe Turner and Michael Wyman | Tanya and Jacob Monpetit | Darpan Ahluwalia and Luke Bayne | Lisa and Lilianan McCarthy
A very special thanks to all those who have been involved in any way and especially to Dr Barry Whitney, Dave Poulin, Melissa Welch, Tanya Monpetit, Robin Moir, Morgan Strickland, Lara Devereaux, Deena Offet, Marg Blackmore, Katrina Paz David, Catherine Landry, Kellie Stewart, Dana Cote, Judith Cane and Julie Buen, Meghan Thomas, Michelle Weger, Wendy and Ayla Bolf, Emily Sharp, Tommy and Elaine Grouev for their invaluable input and wisdom and support.