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Bieber’s childhood mentor to speak at Stratford Perth Museum July 20

By Galen Simmons, Stratford Beacon Herald

Nathan McKay, one of Justin Bieber’s earliest friends and mentors, sits on the steps to the Avon Theatre in Stratford – the very same steps on which the pop star began his musical career. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network

Nathan McKay, one of Justin Bieber’s earliest friends and mentors, sits on the steps to the Avon Theatre in Stratford – the very same steps on which the pop star began his musical career. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network

Besides family, Stratford’s Nathan McKay might know Justin Bieber better than anyone.

Having met the young pop star when Bieber was just two years old, McKay was among the first people to discover his musical talent. On July 20 at 7 p.m., McKay will speak at the Stratford Perth Museum, giving visitors to the museum’s Steps to Stardom exhibit a special inside look at Bieber’s early life and his development as a musician.

“I started hanging out with (Pattie Mallette and Bieber) socially, then they started inviting me to church, and that’s when I started to notice Justin’s talent,” McKay said. “One of his key things is his ability to imitate whatever he sees… So one of the first things I noticed was Justin would pick up a set of drumsticks and sit at the front of the church on the stairs and bang the drumsticks on the stairs – but he would be in time.

“Some people wouldn’t recognize that… but for me, because I studied music and I studied percussion and guitar, I was like, ‘Wow, he’s right in time… Somebody’s got to get this kid a (drum) kit.’”

As one of Bieber’s earliest friends and mentors, and having played an integral part in the establishment of the Steps to Stardom exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum, McKay was pegged by museum general manager John Kastner as the perfect speaker to shed some light on both Bieber’s early life and the items on display in his exhibit.

Presented as a question-and-answer-style interview, McKay said he will discuss what Bieber was like as a kid, how he helped foster Bieber’s talent, Bieber’s busking career in Stratford, Bieber’s first concerts, and McKay’s experiences touring with the pop star after his release of Never Say Never, among other topics.

Prior to McKay’s talk, the Steps to Stardom exhibit will be open to visitors from 5-7 p.m., during which time McKay will be available to answer questions about the items on exhibit.

“I can give them a guided tour, answer any questions, and explain some of the documents on display… and tell them the stories about some of the shows he did before he got signed. He did several, and I did at least five of them with him in Stratford, including his first concert,” McKay said.

At $15 per ticket, McKay said his talk will also shed light on the hard work, dedication, and persistence any young musician in Stratford needs to make it in the industry.

For more information, call the Stratford Perth Museum at 519-393-5311, or visit www.stratfordperthmuseum.ca/events/.

gsimmons@postmedia.com