Neil Donell - Singer with Brass Transit My friend Wayne Pronger, was a kind, gentle and creative soul who laughed easily and had a wonderful sense of humour and a great big, loving heart.
Vicki Van Dyke - used to be a Disc Jockey at CHAM Radio in Hamilton, Ontario & she worked with the Music Brokers Wayne Pronger never, ever ceased to amaze me. From our first meeting in his Toronto apartment (facilitated by Bruce Good) to the benefit concert I organized to get him the new wheelchair he so desperately needed to the release of his CD "Circle of Wood" Wayne was truly one of the most optimistic grateful people I have ever met. And patient. Did I mention patient? Wayne's CP certainly exacerbated communication difficulties and there were many times when I would say time and time again "Sorry, what did you say"? Wayne would just smile and try again. And again. Until I finally got it. His heart was as big as his love of country music. And his talent as a songwriter was a beautiful gift. Actually, Wayne was a beautiful gift. I will always treasure the times we spent (with Lil too!) and never forget the light he brought to my life.
Stan Campbell - Disc Jockey I met Wayne Pronger when I was the producer of the live syndicated Opry North Show in Toronto. Wayne would call me several times a week to tell me a story or ask a question or make a suggestion for the show. I admit that he sometimes became annoyed by my failure to understand his garbled speech thanks to a lifetime with Cerebral Palsy. Upon meeting Wayne in person at Opry North, I judged, just as we often do, and felt pity for a man whom I assumed, thanks to the his crippling disease was virtually helpless. How wrong I was. Judge not! Inside that body and inspired mind lived a whole, creative, intelligent, loving man, who even though he could hardly hold a pencil or force his eager hands to play an instrument, nevertheless extracted the profound poetry that danced in his inspired mind and composed music! Not just music, but profound lyrics to win the heart of his beloved Lil. Eventually his music and words would echo from the stage of grand church of Country Music, The Grand Ole Opry. I am proud to have known Wayne Pronger the composer, the romantic, the man who ignored limits.
Frank Trainor -Songwriter/Artist I’d first encountered Wayne Pronger and his wicked sense of humour during my time in Toronto working as a songwriter/artist in the country music business. We’d met a time or two here and there and Wayne’s songwriting collaboration with the late Tom Kelly had established itself in the collective consciousness of many in the business in those days. So I was sociable and encouraging of his efforts and perhaps a bit patronizing towards him, wherever we’d encounter one another, mainly because it was extremely difficult for Wayne to communicate verbally at any rate and I do enjoy good conversation. Surprisingly enough then, it happened to be a phone call Wayne made to me one day that broke down the barriers of superficial social sweetness on my part as he set me up like a big bowling pin and threw a strike at me right down the middle of the alley. All I’ll say is that he got me good and I know Lil has put that story in this book, so you can read it within the overall story of Wayne’s life and musical journey. But we became friends that day as he laughed his ass off at me so hard I couldn’t help but start laughing right along with him. I realized that undoubtedly the only thing better than having a clear conversation with someone is having an unclear conversation with someone with a deeply warped sense of humour. I love to laugh and I’ve always had a twisted sense of humour myself, so I value that same sense in others. But I had more than met my match on that long ago day when masterful practical joker Wayne Pronger called to tell me that he’d nearly died from drinking milk and I believed him.
Joe Wood - RDR Music Group I remember the first time I met Wayne. It was at the RPM Big Country Luncheon. He was with a good friend of mine Albert Macdonald. What first struck me was his sense of humour. It was a good one! Wayne was a determined guy. Those closest to him knew he was not a quitter. I was asked some years later to be part of his CD project and I jumped at the chance. I went to his home met Lil and sat in the living room with all the others involved and we put together the groundwork for his CD project. We all had a part to play to make this project come to fruition. We were determined and focused and guess what … it all came together. His CD landed at his home some time later and I’ll never forget the look on his face. Wayne was happy Lil was overjoyed, and we were proud to be a part of it. God Bless you Wayne. You made music for the right reasons, and made us part of your special project.
Angela Cameron - Kick up a Fuss Cloggers WHEN I THINK OF WAYNE I REMEMBER GOOD TIMES. I THINK OF HOW HE DID HIS BEST TO MAKE YOU SMILE. ALWAYS WANTED TO HAVE FUN, PLAY A JOKE ON YOU, AND WOULD GO TO THE END OF THE EARTH TO GET EVEN WITH YOU IF YOU EVER TRIED TO MESS WITH HIM . THERE WERE SO MANY TIMES HE DID THAT TO ME, JOHN ALLAN AND STUART. ONE THAT STICKS OUT IN MY MIND IS BEING AT THE CANADIAN COUNTRY MUSIC REUNION HELD IN LINDSAY. I WAS THERE WITH MY CLOGGERS DOING SHOWS OVER THE WEEK-END. SOME POINT DURING THE WEEKEND WHEN I THOUGHT I COULD JUST SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE OTHER ENTERTAINMENT. I PLACED MY LAWN CHAIR ON THE GROUNDS BUT FOR SOME REASON WHEN I SAT DOWN THE CHAIR COLLAPSED!!! 20 SECONDS LATER THERE WAS WAYNE GOING SO FAST IN HIS WHEEL CHAIR TO MAKE SURE HE SAW WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. (BY THE WAY NOBOBY ELSE SAW IT). HE GOT THE BIGGEST KICK OUT OF IT. FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK-END HE MADE SURE HE WAS RIGHT THERE FOR ME. LOOKING OUT FOR ME AND MAKING SURE THAT I SAT ON HIS LAP RIDING ON HIS WHEEL CHAIR AND GETTING FRONT ROW SEATS. WAYNE WAS AMAZING. HE WAS SO TALENTED AND WROTE SO MANY BEAUTIFUL SONGS. HE EVEN WROTE A NUMBER SO SPECIAL TO ME THAT I HAD TO CHOREOGRAPH A NUMBER TO IT. SOMETIMES WHEN I AM HAVING A HARD DAY I THINK OF WAYNE AND THINGS JUST GET BETTER. HE WAS MY HERO.
Bruce Good - The Good Brothers In my 50 years as a musician there have been a few people who have truly inspired me and my brothers. Artists, song writers, teachers and mentors have helped show the way to a richer career. Of those who have captured our imagination most, and they can be counted on the fingers of one hand, we would include our dear friend, song writer and prankster Wayne Pronger. Wayne was born with Cerebral Palsy a debilitating condition that left his every move a challenge. This did not slow Wayne down but instead seemed to give him boundless energy. The two things he loved most in life were writing songs and the subject of many of those melodies, his wife Lillian. My brother Brian and I had the pleasure of writing with Wayne but his true writing partner was troubadour Tom Kelly. Together they would write an album that would go on to critical acclaim and have both grace the stage of the legendary Grand Ole’ Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. In his all too brief lifetime he would write hundreds of songs. More than most able bodied songsmiths could ever dream of. He was in life and still is today one of our greatest influences. Some days, when I am writing a song or poem and can’t find the words or inspiration I think of Wayne. Only then do I feel that boundless energy that once guided him and suddenly the words seem to come easy. Thank you, Wayne Pronger, for sharing that inspiration and devotion, for your humour and especially for sharing your words and music with the rest of the world.
Dave Tollington – former Warner Music Canada Sr. VP Wayne Pronger was a kindred spirit: we both shared a passion for music, a blazing feature of Wayne's that was amply evident the first time we met. Wayne had his challenges for sure but his innate musical sensibilities and indefatigable hustle allowed him to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone in the business. I've met a few amazing characters in my time but few could hold a candle to Wayne's indomitable spirit – an inspiration to us all.
John Sheard -Music Director - C.B.C.’s Vinyl Cafe touring show I first met Wayne when the late, great steel-player/producer, Ron Dann asked me to take over for him, helping Wayne to write songs and sing with a MIDI keyboard and a computer. I agreed, having no idea that I would be working with the most enthusiastic, focused, driven person I had ever met. I should really say 'people' because Wayne's wife, Lillian is cut from the same bold cloth; she was ever-present and ever-keen. I had to be on my toes, both professionally and personally to keep up with Wayne and Lil at our little writing/tech sessions but my reward was learning about finding passion, courage and brilliance in unexpected places. I will always remember that lesson. Many years ago I had the good fortune to be asked to produce Wayne's multi-artist tribute CD. While we were driving out to the recording studio in Whitby, Wayne, hunched forward in anticipation, yelled, “ Is that as fast as this thing goes??! Step on it Boy! Needless to say, I obeyed as he let out a patented Pronger hearty laugh. That was Wayne Pronger in a nutshell- hunched forward, with a thirst for all that life could offer him in his too-short visit here. And above all, he was always ready with that big, hearty laugh.
Greg Hambleton - Former President of theCanadian Music Publishers Association, Former President of PEER Canada When I first met Wayne and Tom Kelly in my office at Peer Music Publishers they presented a terrific song they wrote; "Someone To Love" which was immediately recorded by "Eastcoast Riders". Best wishes to you, Lillian, and thanks for all the great memories of Wayne.
Mel Shaw -Founding President of (CARAS)The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences(Presenters of the Juno Awards)Founding President ofCanada's Recording Legacy Back many years ago, Tom Kelly was recording a song for MWC Records and he asked me to drive up to the Don Mills area to meet a friend. He wanted to introduce me to another songwriter, Wayne Pronger.
From that moment I became a fan, a believer and inspired by Wayne's determination, sense of humour, strong ambition and un daunting spirit. He could compliment you one minute and then show his dream was moving to slow. and how could you speed up the business. Later in Nashville with Tom, I found Wayne wanted to pitch songs 24 hours a day Tom would say "Give it a break Wayne...I found many singers and writers loved Wayne and admired his spirit."
I miss Wayne and I am so pleased that with a book his Dream lives on. You cannot separate Wayn'e Dream from the Love and spirit of Lillian. Always strong, always caring, and a partner for life and beyond. Lillian Pronger is an angel that gave Wayne the basis for a reality within a dream. When the business let him down as he fought his battle for his songs, Lillian would lift his spirits and his dream to move on. Congratulations to all involved in the publication of Wayne's story.
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