Ask Da’Quan Bowers what is more exciting: ‘Playing football or playing music?’ and he’ll default to football every time.
“Football is my life,” said the Eskimos’ 27-year-old defensive tackle, a five-year NFL veteran who is playing his first season in the CFL. “Football is what I love. Football has created opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have even imagined. I pride myself on being a great football player.”
Da’Quan recalled his father, Dennis Bowers, always telling him: “Son, if you’re going to play in front of thousands of people, take advantage of it.”
“That’s what I’ve truly tried to do,” he said. “I’m truly blessed with the situation and opportunity to play the game that I love in front of so many people.”
Bowers, at six-foot-four and 296 pounds, is also an accomplished musician who has played guitar and sung in front of 100,000 people each day at a music festival in Butte, Mont.
“It was crazy; it was so surreal,” said Bowers, a member of the gospel quartet, Legendary Singing Stars, for the past 10 years.
“We tour across the United States yearly. Every other year, we go internationally. We’ve been to Italy, we’ve been to Spain, we’ve been a lot of great places, Mexico.”
Da’Quan’s father played guitar and sang background vocals for the group, which was formerly known as Tommy Ellison and the Singing Stars, for 34 years until Ellison died in 2010. Now Da’Quan is plucking the same chords as his dad. He was just about to turn 18 in the winter of 2007 when he first started doing concerts and dates with the group.
“I’ve been around these guys my whole life because it’s the only thing I’ve ever seen my father do,” Bowers said. “When the original lead singer of the group, Tommy Ellison, got sick with cancer, my father took over his spot as lead singer. They needed somebody to fill in for my father’s spot as guitars and background singer. Since my style of playing and my father’s style of playing was so identical and symmetrical, I got the job.
“Even though I was going to go off to school, I solidified my spot with that group as long as I had the time. I’ve been there ever since. Besides my football career, in the summertime when I wasn’t training and in the off-season, I would always travel with the group.”
Bowers started playing guitar at the age of four.
“Everything I’ve ever learned musically has been from my father and my father’s influences and his friends,” Da’Quan said. “I’ve got the chance to be around a lot of great musicians over my lifespan. I’m just grateful that I got a chance to meet some of these great people.
“James Brown is from my hometown. His mom and his my father’s mom lived four houses apart so he would occasionally drop in and visit his mom in the later part of her life. He would always be nice.”
Bowers also met Teddy Riley, “who was one of Michael Jackson’s biggest music directors and producers.”
“Because of the relationships that my father had with friends and friends, I’ve been able to build relationships with those kind of people,” Da’Quan said. “That’s kind of how I got my lesson about the music business, through family and friends.”
Surprisingly, Bowers didn’t bring a guitar with him when he travelled to Edmonton for the Eskimos’ training camp in June, but he sure misses not having one around.
“I usually bring one with me when I go off to play,” he said. “Because I didn’t know how the situation would be here. I was coming to a new country, I had to bring limited items. I didn’t get a chance to bring any of my guitars here and it’s been driving me crazy.”