‘It’s never too late’: A son follows in the footsteps of his famous jazz singer father

‘I know this is a crapshoot, and it’s just kind of a crazy dream of mine, but I think the biggest reason I’m here is just to be able to spend time with my dad’

By: Michael De Santis

Chase Colman, the only son of legendary Canadian jazz crooner Kenny Colman, largely grew up without his father. He was raised by his mother, Kaysie, and a series of stepdads while his father Kenny travelled the world singing. Although Chase loves his dad, he always resented him for leaving and begrudged that he chose his musical career over his family.

MORE: Kenny Colman was one of Canada’s best jazz singers ever

“You know, he was my everything, my idol, and he was just always on the road, so it was just so hard growing up. And I had to deal with my stepdads, whom I couldn’t stand. And it was just hard not seeing him,” says Chase in the documentary Cool Daddy.

A few years after losing his mother to ALS at 43 years old, Chase suddenly decided to quit his high-paying job in real estate and pursue a career of singing — the same career that took his father away from him for so much of his life. With no formal training, Chase isn’t worried that his attempt at showbiz might simply be too little, too late.

“It’s never too late. I had reached the top of real estate, you know, the best at my dream job. I gave it up to even try this,” he says.

Filmed over the course of three years, Cool Daddy follows Chase as he attempts to realize his lifelong dream of singing and reconcile with his father in the process — before it’s too late.

“This is a show business story, yet it is a very truthful, emotional father-son story,” says director Roger Evan Larry. “I think that [in] watching Kenny and Chase, we see all of our relationships to all of our parents … Kenny reminded me of my father. This is the movie about my dad I always wanted to make but couldn’t.”

Chase moves to Vancouver to reconnect with his father and seek help in achieving his musical aspirations. Kenny, now 83, is struggling with Parkinson’s disease and has not sung in years. When Chase reveals that he wants to be a jazz singer just like him, Kenny is surprised. While Kenny wants to be supportive of his son after years of neglect, he also wants to protect him from all the hardships and heartache that he faced while chasing his own musical dreams.

“You saw what I’ve been through in my life. It’s not easy. It’s a bloody tough fuckin’ business, I’ll tell you that,” Kenny says.

“The one thing that my dad worries about the most is me paying the bills. You know, he lived a life where he struggled his whole life …  he’d be rich six months, and then he’s broke six months. So that’s what he’s worried about. Am I going to be able to pay my bills? And, you know, that’s scary, but I just have a feeling it’s going to work out. I really do,” says Chase.

Chase is adamant about pursuing his passion for singing, much like his father was at the start of his career when Frank Sinatra called him a “warrior” for his refusal to quit until he made it. Now, Chase seems to have this same tenacity and, despite his father’s warnings, is willing to throw caution to the wind.

“I know this is a crapshoot, and it’s just kind of a crazy dream of mine, but I think the biggest reason I’m here is just to be able to spend time with my dad,” he says. “I don’t know how much longer I have with him.”

Watch Cool Daddy on the documentary Channel.

Watch Kenny and Chase perform at Kenny`s Jazz Pad.

Available on CBC Gem

Cool Daddy

documentary Channel