BARRY’S BAY – You may suggest that the stage was set long before Robert Yeretch ever set foot on it. Born into a family of singers and musicians he was the youngest of seven children to Stella (née Anderchek) and Eddie Yeretch.
Music was at the centre of family life growing up in Barry’s Bay and a gift you were expected to share with the community.
“We all sang. Mom would pick up the guitar after dinner; we would still be doing the dishes and we would start singing and creating harmonies. From a young age our mother would take us out and we would sing for people; at church, weddings and receptions – all seven of us,” Yeretch’s older sister Diane Whitehead recalled.
“Five boys and two girls; we were like the von Trapp family,” she added before revealing they often had to dress in coordinated outfits for these performances.
Yeretch loved the stage; he loved performing and he loved the audiences and his sister said, “He stole the show.”
This was small consolation to a boy who secretly wished to become a professional entertainer but believed he wasn’t good enough. It was a dream he daren’t speak aloud.
The stage he believed was reserved for people from Hollywood and not someone from Barry’s Bay.
When Kristin Marchand, his Grade 10 music teacher kept him after class one day, that all changed.
“She asked me what I thought I would do with my future and I very proudly said I was going to be an accountant. She was disappointed. She said, ‘We have a lot of great accountants but we don’t have a lot of great musicians,’” Yeretch explained.
While his dream of becoming a singer, dancer and actor remained a secret, Yeretch was elated that he could become a professional musician.
“I had no idea how to pursue my dream and to think that you could be all that and from Barry’s Bay,” he said.
He immersed himself in music, taking every class he could in high school and performing in the musicals. His teacher continued to support him, providing direction and extra work.
“She was so dedicated going far and beyond to make sure I could have a life as an entertainer” he said.
When he began taking vocal lessons he realized he wanted to sing far more than he ever wanted to play horn. Upon graduation, Yeretch auditioned and was accepted to the Humber College Vocal Jazz program. In retrospect the three-year program was not exactly what he was looking for and suggested Sheridan would have been a better fit; providing him with the skills for dancing and acting. But as luck would have it Yeretch found the training he would need after an audition that landed him a spot entertaining at Canada’s Wonderland.
Story continues in March 8 issue of The Valley Gazette.