This week’s inspirational individual is Juno nominated vocalist and double lung transplant survivor Alex Pangman.
Known as “Canada’s sweetheart of swing”, Alex discovered her love of music very early. Born with Cystic Fibrosis lung disease, her family encouraged her to live life to the fullest and pursue her dream of music, leading her to record her first album in 1999. In 2008 Alex underwent a lung transplant in Toronto, leading her to become a passionate advocate for organ donation. Unfortunately, her first transplant was rejected, but that didn’t stop her! Between that time frame and her second transplant, Alex signed with Justin in Time records in Montreal, recorded two albums (33 and Have a little fun) and even opened for Willie Nelson at Massey Hall in 2013. That same year, Alex was given a second chance at a transplant. Her skilled surgeons found a perfect match, and Alex underwent a second and successful lung transplant, helping her find her voice again. Not only has she surmounted incredible obstacles in pursuit of her dream, she continues to advocate for organ donation and is also a Juno nominated artist! Alex’s album New, recorded in New Orleans, received a Juno nod for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year!
“I’ve always loved the music of the 1930s,” Pangman says. “It celebrates the human spirit in a beautifully melodic and lyrical way that helped people through dark historical times, and it has always been cathartic for me to sing. The musical themes remain relevant today, and recording this album in the birthplace of jazz was important. Like me, New Orleans has also undergone storm and rebirth.”
The JUNO nomination is a testament not only to Pangman’s musical talent, but also her resiliency and dedication to her art. She is once again using this opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, without which, she would not be here, let alone able to share her music. Check her out doing what she does best here:
An inspiration on so many levels, read more about what drives Alex Pangman below.
What is your WHY?
Life is brief. I love to sing. Therefore… I do! It is also a wonderfully cathartic experience to sing, to bring joy to audiences, to feel alive. Music is curative! I sing the music of the 1930s which was great comfort as we negotiated the great depression, & the war years. It is my joy to keep this music alive and demonstrate its ongoing relevancy to life. Remember, its later than you think: enjoy yourself!
What are the biggest challenges/set backs you’ve had to face?
Physically overcoming the challenges of both diseased lungs and then re-emerging post lung transplant with an ability to emote vocally previously unknown has been my single most remarkable challenge/triumph. Lung disease made singing very challenging once I hit my 30s. Teasing song from them became like an obstacle course. Exhausting physically and emotionally. Comparatively, singing post lung transplant is blessedly easy! Being an ill singer also meant I could not travel, but now I can take my show on the road again– make new audiences.
How do you do manage to do it all?
It is a challenge some days! Health still feels like my first priority. But I manage because I’ve never known otherwise. I keep physical. I answer work emails and learn songs while I take my daily inhalations: it actually is a great routine. However, it is hard for me to make the scene in winter in Canada when my immune system is compromised to prevent rejection. It’s a balancing act for sure!
If you had one wish to help make the world a better place, what would it be?
For people to be kind. For people to become organ donors: tell your family your wishes. Be a hero. You cant take it with you when you go but you could save up to 8 lives with your donation!
Who (person or organization) inspires you?
Artists who have overcome. Be it Frida Kahlo (Mexican painter injured in streetcar accident), Ian Dury (British punk singer 1970s with Polio), Django Reindhart (Gypsy jazz guitarist whose fretting hand was fused together in caravan fire). Sometimes what comes out of less that perfect physical circumstances is amazing art! And amazing emotion and power
If you could pick one charitable organization to ask our readers to donate to or volunteer with, which would it be?
Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.