Calgary’s Lyrique offers personal story of hardship and hope with debut album

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“A lot of people just perceive pimping in regards to pimps and sex workers,” he says, in an interview from his Calgary home. “In urban-slang terms, it also means making something out of nothing. That was my whole story about me coming here to Canada: to make something out of nothing.”

Lyrique was born in the City of Baguio, the so-called “summer capital” of the Philippines, located in a mountainous area north of Manila. Initially, it was a privileged life. But by the time he turned 13, things drastically changed when his paternal grandmother had a devastating stroke. Due to the country’s less-than-stellar health care system, her needs drained both the family’s wealth and his father’s energy to run his once-lucrative business.

“I was able to experience poverty when I was 13,” says Lyrique, who will perform Friday, Oct. 9 at Cafe Koi. “It was a situation I didn’t understand. But looking back in hindsight, it was an eyeopener. I was really doing well in school in my younger years. Then when that situation came about, I was doing terrible in school. I was doing terrible socially.”

In 2014, Lyrique migrated to Canada in search of a better life. He was 22 and arrived as a temporary foreign worker under the live-in nanny program. It was not an easy time for him. Male live-in nannies were uncommon and therefore not exactly in demand. Within two weeks of arriving, his living arrangements with a relative came to an abrupt end.

“It was tough times, a lot of drama,” Lyrique says. “I lived in Fort McMurray for two or three months trying to look for an opportunity as a live-in nanny. But it was really hard because I was a guy. There were a lot of bad situations. I came back to Calgary to find employment because Fort McMurray was hopeless at the time. I tried Vancouver, but it was twice as hard to find that line of work in Vancouver and more expensive. So I went back to Calgary and was couch-surfing for seven, eight months; living from house to house. There were times I had to sleep in C-Train stations.”

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