Salmon Arm’s Carson Venne, a familiar face, and voice, at the Fall Fair Shuswap Idol event, is rehearsing for a shot at winning Okanagan’s Got Talent. He’s made it into the second stage of the three-part competition, with the finale on March 29, 2020. (Contributed)

Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, Salmon Arm teen pursues passion for music

Shuswap Idol success Carson Venne competing in Okanagan’s Got Talent

By Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Carson Venne has a firm career goal and is well on his path to success.

This despite the fact the accomplished singer/songwriter musician is on the autism scale and was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when he was 12.

He lives by the motto his mom, Sandy Van Den Ham, instilled in her now 17-year-old son: “You have Tourette’s, Tourettes doesn’t have you.”

With a lot of support from his family, Carson is finding fulfillment in his passion for music.

He has participated in, and won, several local competitions such as the Angel Awards in Winfield, where he won first place for best vocals and was given a recording package from the Centre For Arts and Technology in Kelowna.

As the youngest competitor in the adult division, he came in second in Shuswap Idol 2019 and is currently competing in Okanagan’s Got Talent having reached the second stage of the three-part competition.

Carson has recorded covers of songs by Shawn Mendes, Lukas Graham, Sam Smith and others at recording studios in Las Vegas, Florida and at Okanagan College.

He wrote the melody and co-wrote the lyrics for his first original song, Waterfalls, which was recorded at a local studio.

“That one came about from me meeting someone over the summer, so I came home and wrote a song,” he said, noting he wrote the melody and got a little help with the lyrics.

“I’m almost done another one.”

Most of the recordings have been made at world-class studios in the U.S. through a program called Throga, which offers youth retreats and include vocal lessons, stage performance and how to thrive in the complex music industry.

Life has presented difficult challenges to this accomplished young man; he was born deaf in one ear, had sleep issues and sometimes zones out.

But Van Den Ham says they have met those issue head on and found strategies to allow her son to thrive.

Van Den Hamm provided brain development games and registered Carson in a music program when he was three.

He began with the cello, then piano, followed by voice training. He attended regular school until Grade 7 and has been homeschooled since, which has allowed his schedule to accommodate his music.

When he was eight, Van Den Ham realized if Carson played only classical music he would lose interest.

So she advised him to drop the cello and concentrate on his passion for singing and piano.

Talking is sometimes difficult for Carson so music is an excellent way for him to communicate.

Read more: Twenty-three enter, 10 to compete for Shuswap Idol win

Read more: WATCH: Mother-son duo sing to raise funds for North Okanagan kids

“Music is a way to get emotions out,” Carson acknowledged, noting that his inspiration most often comes from people and that his mom gets a lot of the credit for encouraging him to develop his talent.

“Mom made me do it; at the time I didn’t really want to, but I am glad she persisted.”

His dad Laurence helps secure recording time and friends of his created a scholarship through the Shuswap Community Foundation so Carson can continue his education, possibly combining two of his passions — music and computers.

Carson also has a vocal coach in Vernon and is currently looking for someone he can write lyrics with here in the Shuswap.

More than making music, Carson gives back to community by volunteering twice a week at Think Monkey Computers.

He also works at the Salmar Theatre where he has received ample support, including the use of the Classic stage for rehearsals.

Van Den Ham says her son still struggles sometimes but would like his story to inspire and encourage others to push through their limitations.

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