May 2015: David McKee 

Oyez! Oyez! David McKee is May’s Featured Artist. McKee is a showman with exceptional dramatic and musical talent that has made him one of the most recognized performers in Brantford. A musician, singer and the Official Town Crier of Brantford, McKee currently spends his time researching, writing and presenting proclamations (or “cries”) for special occasions in traditional regalia. Community members likely recognize both his booming voice and his striking uniform from his “cries” at events in Harmony Square, local parks, civic and charitable functions, Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant events, and more.

McKee has always loved to perform and his energy and enthusiasm has commanded an audience for over sixty years. Since the age of nine, he has studied clarinet; at fourteen, he added saxophone to his repertoire and played in his first of many bands. Throughout his life McKee has sung in school, community and church choirs, and if you’re lucky enough you can still occasionally catch him performing jazzy tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. McKee credits his vocal teacher at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Margaret John, a former opera singer in England, for helping him to develop his “audible and laudable” voice that he is renowned for.

McKee hadn’t always thought that being a Town Crier was the career path for him. McKee’s extensive performing resume also includes a position as an announcer on a rock ‘n’ roll radio show, a portrayal of Alexander Graham Bell, and a guest narrator for the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. However, McKee’s career path changed in 1990, when the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant started looking for a Town Crier to perform at their 125th anniversary events the next year. At this time, McKee had taken a break from music while he worked at a security system job, and knew very little about Town Crying. McKee auditioned for the job and when he landed it, purchased his first uniform. He fell in love with the art form and has been Town Crying ever since. His success at the anniversary events led to a declaration on May 25, 1992, read by the Mayor of Brantford, Bob Taylor, which named McKee the Official Town Crier of Brantford.

McKee now holds the title of Provincial Champion (five times) and has been ranked in the Top Ten Criers in the World since 1997, taking second place twice at World Tournaments. He provides colour and ceremony to civic and charity events annually, as well as all Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant special events, and most of their “Business After Hours” sessions. This year, there are three significant Town Crier competitions on the horizon for McKee, including the Ingersoll Harvest Festival (Ingersoll, Ontario); the Ontario Guild of Town Criers Provincials Championships (Bracebridge, Ontario); and the Central Otago World Crier Tournament (Central Otago, New Zealand).

McKee notes that to be a great Crier, research and writing are incredibly important, and the city of Brantford provides him with “lots of ammunition” for preparing his “cries”. He utilizes the internet and reference books to research, and connects with local event organizers when preparing each “cry”. “The most important thing for a Town Crier to remember is to be an ‘audible and laudable’ ambassador for the community,” says McKee. “Once the uniform is donned, the Crier must tout the city’s virtues and do nothing that could be construed as embarrassing for the city. Being audible requires practice and being laudable requires research and writing.”

In order to represent Brantford at the Central Otago World Crier Tournament, McKee is looking for community sponsorships. If you, or your company, are interested in supporting McKee, or if you would like to have McKee appear at your function, please contact brantfordtowncrier@rogers.com.

For more information, click here to open David McKee, Official Town Crier of the City of Brantford website in a new browser window.