Manitoba

Winnipeg musician enjoys command performance for actor Sean Penn

Musician Keri Latimer has played plenty of big shows in her life, but nothing like the performance she gave last weekend at a Winnipeg restaurant.

Leaf Rapids singer Keri Latimer enlisted to back up 13-year-old You Tube sensation

Keri Latimer, centre, and her husband Devin, right, pose with actor Sean Penn at Mona Lisa restaurant in Winnipeg Saturday night. (Courtesy Keri Latimer)

Musician Keri Latimer has played plenty of big shows in her life, but nothing like the performance she gave last weekend at a Winnipeg restaurant.

It all began Saturday when she received an email while lounging by the pool at a friend's house. It contained an invitation to perform later that evening at a private party hosted by actor Sean Penn.

"It was out of the blue," said Latimer, a singer/songwriter, guitarist and theremin player who has toured internationally with her current band, Leaf Rapids, as well as her former band Nathan.  

The email was from the associate producer of the film Flag Day, which stars Penn and is being shot in Winnipeg. A few weeks earlier, the producer had seen Latimer and Leaf Rapids on stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre with 10-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin.

"He saw our show … and wondered if I would come in a couple of hours to a party Sean Penn was hosting and back up a young singer on guitar," said Latimer.

The young singer was 13-year-old Jadyn Rylee, who plays Penn's daughter in Flag Day. She has become famous online for her YouTube channel, where her covers of popular songs have garnered more than 50 million views.

Latimer was hesitant at first. While she plays guitar, she doesn't usually play it on stage.

But her husband Devin, who performs with her in Leaf Rapids, called them back and said "Yes." Once they sent her the songs, Latimer realized this was something she could do.

"It was just one of those crazy random calls that you just go, 'Oh my God. I just have to do this.'"

So the couple raced over to Mona Lisa restaurant on Corydon Avenue, where Penn was hosting a midway-through-the-shoot party for the cast and crew. The two-time Oscar winner was sitting out on the patio when they got there.

Sean Penn introduces young singer Jadyn Rylee, left, accompanied by Winnipeg's Keri Latimer, centre. (Courtesy Keri Latimer)

"He introduced us" said Latimer. "And then he was sitting in the front row.  It was a very lovely experience … and a little terrifying. But exciting!"

Latimer backed Rylee on Nothing Else Matters by Metallica and Shallow from the movie A Star is Born.   

"It was so funny how calm everything was," she recalled. "I wasn't nervous or anything. Everyone was very natural and Sean was very nice."

Latimer describes Penn and the other actors as "regular people." The group included fellow actor Josh Brolin and Penn's real-life daughter Dylan Penn, who plays the grown-up version of Penn's daughter in Flag Day, taking over from Rylee's younger portrayal.

Keri Latimer, left, poses with 13-year-old singer/actor Jadyn Rylee after their performance together at Mona Lisa. (Courtesy Keri Latimer)

As for the young singer, Latimer described her in glowing terms.

"Jaydn's the same age as my daughter, and she was a complete sweetheart and a really talented singer."

After the performance, Latimer and her husband mingled with the others at the party, sipping sangria.

"It was nice, because I've done some movie scoring," she said. "Just the chance to talk to producers of bigger movies … you never know what it can lead to."

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