On February 18, 2021, the Québécois band Kaïn released the video for Cœur d’homme, the latest song from their album Je viens d’ici, which marks the group’s 20th anniversary.
During the creation of this double album, released in the summer of 2020, bassist Éric Maheu’s brother Steve received a cancer diagnosis.
“In 2018, at 59, my brother Steve decided to retire. He was a school principal, and my sisters and I wanted to be there for him on his last day of school, so we all went to meet him. It was that day that one of my sisters said that she thought he looked slightly pale, greyish and sickly. The next day, Steve went to the hospital, and after numerous tests, they determined that he had colon cancer.”
Steve had always been a source of inspiration for Éric, both personally and as a musician, so the diagnosis hit him full force.
“The first time I heard someone play bass, it was Steve, and he was a great musician. Even though he didn’t make a career out of it, he often played on weekends, accompanying several bands in the region. He was extremely talented, and it was thanks to him that I became a bass player. Before he retired, he didn’t have much time to see us play in concert, but we became much closer following his diagnosis. I always looked for approval from my big brother that I held in such high esteem, and I am so thankful that I spent so much time with him before the end. I remember after this one concert with Brigitte Boisjoli; he said, ‘You really played bass up there, kid.’ and that’s a memory that I will always have.”
Cancer is part of Éric’s family’s history. His parents lost their first child, Constance, to complications from leukemia in 1967. More recently, his brother Carl was diagnosed with cancer of the lymph nodes. Those are some of the reasons that pushed him to stay the course on this project.
“I always write and compose a song on each of our albums. My song choices for this album were evidently going to focus on the grave subject matter affecting my family. Many of them were dark, and it was Steve Veilleux who chose Cœur d’homme because it was a song that could be a tribute to my brother and all those fighting cancer. It also had the power to be a rallying, hopeful song as well.”
Having dedicated the entire Je viens d’ici album to Steve’s memory, the band wanted to do more than release a video. Steve, John and Éric set out to find an organization that could make a difference in the fight against cancer. After meeting the team and learning about its mission, the Cancer Research Society was an obvious choice.
“Research is undoubtedly the key to defeating cancer. We will all be affected by cancer in one way or another. Research is the only way to make sure that it becomes a chronic illness rather than a deadly disease. Research has allowed us to make immense progress. With recent discoveries and technology, everything is moving at such a fast pace. My sister, who died of leukemia at 16 in 1967, would have surely survived if she had been diagnosed today. Research is the way of the future, and tomorrow’s progress must begin today.”
With the songs’ reach and their fans’ devotion, the band hopes that the message of hope will resonate throughout Quebec and that people will benefit from having conversations about cancer.
“We want people to know that we are human and to rally behind our cause. One out of every two Canadians will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. The more people are aware and can inform their family and friends about the dangers of cancer and the importance of early detection and going to see their doctor, the more we will be able to save lives. Everyone needs support and to know that they are not alone as they face this disease. We absolutely need to continue to make cancer research a priority.”
Together, let’s outsmart cancer.