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Don't mess with a soprano  

Life of a Kelowna rocker

Round And Round, a 1980s rock song by Ratt, woke Noel Wentworth.

The guitarist, Warren DeMartini, ripped Noel from his sixth grade, nondescript childhood. His family was in the music store business, but until this morning in bed, he hadn’t given music a lot of thought. 

While the song spoke to him, excited him, little did he know music and rock would become his life.  

He thought the sounds of Martini’s guitar were phenomenal, and the song aptly describes his journey through life to the land of rock.

Wentworth Music was a well-established business by the time Noel was born, but his parents didn't want him to forge a career in music. They knew what a rock musician’s life would be like and didn’t want that for their son.

His father suggested, since Noel had long hair, perhaps he should become a hairdresser.

Round 1

When Noel decides to do something, he is driven. Given his innate drive to be the best at what he does, he didn’t just become a hairdresser. He became a Vidal Sassoon stylist and studied in California with the most sought after hair designer in North America.

He brought home the skill, verve and panache he learned there and soon won Kelowna’s Jr. Hairdresser of the Year in 1991. 

Music continued in the background. It was not part of his daily job, but it sustained his soul. He needed more than just hair. He needed a change.

Round 2

Two days after quitting his job at London Cut Inn, the top salon in Kelowna in the 90s, Noel woke up paralyzed. An autoimmune attack left him without use of his legs and arms. Music lightened those dark days in the year it took him to heal.

Round 3

Noel, the fighter: music, family, school. 

Finally, Noel enters Selkirk College in Nelson for a music degree. Guitar was his major, but he found he had a talent for singing. He also found love. His days were filled with his wife-to-be, Laura, a piano performance and composition major and music.

Round 4

Rocker? Not yet. Performer? Yes

Noel and his brother, Nori, formed the Wentworth Brothers band. They played music that made people happy, which ultimately made them happy. They played five to six nights a week all across Western Canada. Squashing family fears of a starving musician, student loans were paid off. Life was good. It was about to get better.

Round 5

Friend Michelle Nikodym needed a band to play gigs. She invited the Wentworth brothers — Neil, Nori and Noel — to join her and Christie Francis in Dehli, India. The band, Glow was formed. No Bollywood movies for them, but the Bollywood stars attended their concerts.

Rock? No. Disco/dance music? Yes.

Round 6

Noel – the composer.

Driven by the desire to make an album of his own music, he started composing and producing his own music. His first album, Motion, got a little air play, but his second album, Change in 2004, peaked at No. 24 out of the top 100 albums in Europe.

Rock? Sort of. Country rock was his genre.

Being a band performer is gritty, gruelling work. Nights often filled with aggressive hecklers yelling “You suck.” Drunks jumping on stage, forcing Noel to remove them, sometimes with his guitar. Bar counters covered in broken glass and blood. Noel laughs and says he was learning customer service in those days.

Round 7

Noel, the vocalist. 

Tragedy strikes in the form of a diaphragm issue. Noel’s singing days are gone. Silver lining of this dark cloud, fatherhood, Lucas and Holly.

Round 8

Rock? Yes! Just not the way he thought. Noel, using all the things he learned on his way to a rock career, becomes a teacher and businessman. Laura and Noel build a music school, with the support of the entire Wentworth family. 

They now have more than 1,000 students learning and enjoying music every year.

Noel’s brainchild, Rock Show, is the largest rock show in Canada.

In 1996, the family was invited to come to Nashville for something special. Wentworth Music won third in the world for the best Music School and Music Store at the National Association of Music Merchants convention. 

Wentworth Music has been in the top 100 music stores in the world for the last seven years.

Noel finds joy these days sharing ideas with his 15-year-old son, Lucas, who can be seen and heard performing at Kelowna’s wineries. He writes 80% of what he performs.

On his way to rockdom, Noel found perseverance, love, grit, wisdom, generosity, undefeatable work ethic and a bigger sense of family (to work at Wentworth is to be part of their family). 

Little did he know he would need all those bits and pieces for the next round.

Round 9

COVID

Wentworth Music School is alive and signing up students for the fall. Yes, their numbers are slightly down for now. They will be offering both face to face and on-line learning. 

Yes, plans for the next rock show in February are forming.

Not bad for a local boy.

Rock On, Noel!



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About the Author

Sue Skinner is a singer of opera and musical theatre, a choral conductor and a teacher/coach of voice. 

She has travelled the world, learned many languages, seen every little town in Alberta and supported herself with music all her life.

She has sung at weddings, funerals, musicals, operettas, opera, with symphonies, guitars, jazz groups, rock bands and at play schools. 

Skinner has taken two choirs to Carnegie Hall, sung around the world, and teaches for Wentworth Music on Zoom.

[email protected]



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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