As you may or may not know, on Wednesday September 30th, Vanier College welcomed Sheldon Kagan, first ever disk jockey, with open arms. The reason behind his invitation was to thank him infinitely for the amazing donations he made to the Vanier College Music Program and the Vanier College Students’ Association. In appreciation of his donations, the 3rd year students of the music program put on a short concert for Sheldon, his family, and friends, along with the students and faculty members who were present.
First, here’s a little bit about Sheldon Kagan; he started his record collection and his business as a disk jockey in 1965 at the young age of 15 with the stage name of “Shelly the K and his mobile discotheque”. When he first told people that he wanted to make a living by being a DJ, no one thought he could do it; they thought he was crazy because, back then, DJs didn’t exist. This didn’t stop Sheldon, because all he wanted was to entertain people, and this is how he decided he would do it. He told us in his interview that the one person you always need to listen to is yourself, because although some people will back you up, others may not, so you always have to remember who you’re doing it for, and that is yourself. As long as you love what you’re doing and you know it’s great, you can’t let anyone get you down. He must have lived up to this because in another interview, it was said that “when he’s doing any of his entertainment, you can see that he loves it, and he gives himself whole-heartedly”. He was so successful that he quickly needed to start training other DJs to work for him. Kagan also became known for his great generosity and his support of local talent. He said in one of the interviews conducted that whenever he is doing a show, he tries to find a local band to open for him, so that they can get their name out in the world just as he did.
Another person we interviewed was Father John, who is a priest and has been good friends with Kagan for many years. He had nothing but good things to say, like the fact that, “he’s been an institution in Montreal for music and for Le Salon de la Mariée, where he helps women and men get ready for their weddings [which he’s been hosting since 1980]”. Father John continued explaining what he has done for him personally, which is bring free entertainment to Father John’s annual Christmas lunching where they serve more than 500 people a meal for free, and Kagan makes it all the more special, as Father John says: “there’s just a spirit in him that’s absolutely wonderful”.
Now, as for what this very generous man has donated to Vanier College and why he’s chosen us specifically. First off, Sheldon has donated his entire record collection, which the Vanier Library is working very hard to get on the shelves and accessible to students as quickly as possible, as well as his 1965 turn table, music statues, posters, and “everything from the past 50 years that I’ve been in business”. He chose Vanier to donate his life’s work partly because his daughter studied in Early Childhood Education here, and because he’d lived in St-Laurent, close to Vanier, for many years. He also has many friends who have gone to Vanier, as well as knowing a few of our teachers and professors. Of course that wasn’t quite enough to make the final decision, so he did a lot of research and found out that we have a great music program, which finally made him decide that “hands down, Vanier was where it was going to go”.
We should feel infinitely grateful for being chosen by the incredibly generous Sheldon Kagan. The donations will certainly be very useful in the Music Department, as well as our own VCSA DJ booth, and the records are sure to be greatly appreciated by all the students of Vanier College.
Written By Kirstin Lachance
Originally Published: October 2015