Coachs family showcases singing talents

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MONTREAL – A long-time swimming coach is out to prove his – and his family’s – talents stretch far beyond the pool.

University of Alberta Head Coach Bill Humby is well known for his 32-year coaching career. He’s made stops in Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Guelph and Calgary and served four years as president of the Canadian Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association.

Along the way he’s been known to pick a guitar, play the harmonica and sing along with his daughter Paula, 23, and son Nico, 20.

“We grew up playing music as well but sort of doing our own thing,” says Nico, who also plays bass, while Paula plays violin. “Once we moved to Edmonton (in 2006) the three of us started singing together and trying different songs. One key story was when we were around a campfire. We were like, why don’t we try singing three-part harmonies from the Crosby, Stills & Nash song Helplessly Hoping and it just worked really well.”

The family group calls themselves The Real Humdingers, and they’ve performed at a handful of weddings, fundraisers and house concerts. Tonight their audience will jump to more than 1 million TV viewers as they appear on Radio-Canada reality show Un Air de Famille.

The show, which airs at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, showcases 27 singing families split over nine preliminary episodes. The Humbys are the only Alberta-based family competing. Paula and Nico’s mother Christiane is originally from Montreal and the children grew up speaking both French and English and attending French school.

“The show was looking to try to spread out through Canada,” Nico says. “A friend recommended us to send in an audition tape, we did and they contacted us back and asked for another one.”

The Real Humdingers will face off against two other families tonight, with fan voting determining a favourite to advance to a semifinal next week. They taped the show on Sunday.

“It was more exciting than I thought it would be,” Nico says. “There’s 900 people in the audience, so even though it’s pre-recorded it feels like a live show. If you mess up you mess up. It was very energetic. The crowd is really loud and cheering you on.”

Both Humby children swam in their younger years and Nico also played water polo. They’re hoping to get an extra boost of support from the Canadian aquatics community tonight.

“If you don’t know us, we’re really good,” Bill says with a laugh. “If u do know us…  you’ll be surprised how good we are!”

Fans can vote for free online within 12 hours of the show’s airing at http://airdefamille.radio-canada.ca/

Supporters can also vote by phone for 40 cents per call at 1 900-930-3333? within Quebec or 1 900–870–6633 outside the province.

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