Published Nov 22, 2009On Sunday, November 22, Jacksoul front-man Haydain Neale died, after a private seven-month battle with lung cancer. His death came as a huge shock, since it was only recently revealed that Neale had completed work on a new Jacksoul album, entitled SOULmate, to be released December 1. He had also conducted an email interview promoting it; the announcement was made as the magazine went to press.
Neale had spent more than two years recovering from a critical car accident, when his Vespa scooter was struck on a Toronto street. During that time, very little information was made public, so reaction to news of the Juno award-winning band's return had been quite enthusiastic. "I didn't fully realize that people would miss me this much," Neale wrote via email. "It feels overwhelming to have this kind of response and I'm not quite sure how to take all this love in."
SOULmate was executive produced by Haydain and wife Michaela Neale and features ten new songs penned prior to his accident. The lead single, "Lonesome Highway," is emblematic of the stirringly smooth Jacksoul sound and touches on his remarkable journey of recovery guided by the support of his wife and family. "[Michaela] never left my side and I owe a lot to her for her dedication to my health, well-being and for being my advocate," said Neale. These songs were written and demoed a while back, he notes, adding that getting back in the studio with the band was a deeply emotional experience. "There were tears, but we fought through together to get the music finished," says Neale. "It's a very emotional time for us all." Neale is survived by his wife Michaela and his daughter Yasmin. All proceeds from sales of SOULmate will be going to a family trust fund; more information can be found at www.jacksoul.com.