Peterborough’s musical community gathered Sunday to remember and honour one of their own, Charlene Earle, better known by her stage names Charlie Earle and Charlie Maine.
She died suddenly on July 19, within 24 hours of what turned out to be the 33-year-old vocalist’s final performance.
“It’s one of these situations when someone is such a great performer, and in this situation instead of words we sing, we play music and that’s what brought us all together,” said close friend Ben Rough.
On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of Earle’s friends, family and fans gathered to play songs and celebrate her life.
“Her mom told me that they weren’t a funeral family,” said Earle’s best friend Rob Foreman. “That’s just not something they did as a family, but that a celebration of life would definitely be in order, so today is a few things. It falls in place of a wake and a funeral. It’s about gathering and mourning and it’s also about celebrating what we all loved about her.
“Very importantly, it’s a fundraiser for her family to get the financial help that they are going to need now.”
Earle’s friends call her a natural talent. Foreman, also a musician, says she will be remembered for her charisma, sense of humour and, of course, her voice.
“People would just love her from the first note and after a while, I had a hard time getting people to come out to my shows because they would call me and ask, ‘Is Charlie going to be singing?’ and if I said no it would be a pretty thin crowd,” Foreman said. “If they knew she was coming out, people would just show up, because they wanted to hear Charlie.”
Earle arrived on the music scene in 2012. Fellow musicians said her raw, raspy voice brought new meaning to the rhythm and blues classics.
Foreman says you didn’t have to know her to love her — her voice was enough to draw you towards her.
“She was really, really, really something,” he said. “She had it — she had a gift and a talent that a lot of people don’t have, and it’s not something that can be taught. She just had it, and it was effortless and it was from the heart, from the soul, and you can feel what she was singing when she sang.”
And on Sunday, Earle’s family and friends are remembering her spirit by singing in her honour.
The Ontario Coroner is investigating her death.
WATCH: Local musicians and friends remember Charlie Earle