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Theft of guitar with great sentimental attachment devastates P.E.I. musician

Singer/songwriter Jill Chandler of Stratford holds her first ever guitar - a gift from her parents when Chandler was in Grade 11. Chandler, though, is eager to be reunited with another guitar - one that holds great personal attachment - that was stolen from her garage more than one week ago.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Singer/songwriter Jill Chandler of Stratford holds her first ever guitar - a gift from her parents when Chandler was in Grade 11. Chandler, though, is eager to be reunited with another guitar - one that holds great personal attachment - that was stolen from her garage more than one week ago. ©THE GUARDIAN - Jim Day

Jill Chandler’s best friend has been stolen.

The fit had been perfect.

The pair performed together so well, so often and in so many places.

Chandler, 43, of Stratford, bought her ‘sunburst’ coloured Epiphone DR 500 accoustic guitar in the spring of 2014.

The particular model stood out from all the rest she picked up and strummed one day in a music store.

“When I tried it, I knew it was the one I wanted,’’ she recalls.

“It’s the tone. It’s just the way it feels in your hand.’’

More important than the look, feel and sound of the instrument was the therapeutic role the guitar would play in her life.

Key to note first that music has always been a passion for Chandler.

She played violin as a young girl.

She joined the Confederation Centre Girls’ Choir at about age 12.

She played clarinet in school from Grade 7 to 11. She took up trumpet in Grade 12.

Chandler went on to perform in dinner theatres for years, singing, playing guitar and blowing her horn.

Her parents got Chandler her first guitar – the only one she currently possesses - when she was in Grade 11.

“I just started to teach myself,’’ she says.

“It was always my goal to record and perform.’’

Chandler, however, came to view her musical passion as an unlikely source of livelihood.

For a couple years, though, she worked promoting other musicians.

Then a tragic event led her to once again focus on creating her own music.

She lost her husband - and true best friend - Donald Glencross to cancer on July 9, 2013, while the couple were raising their three young children in Halifax.

The following year, she bought that Epiphone DR 500 with a sincere purpose.

“I would follow my heart…writing and recording and performing again,’’ she says.

She did.

The songs flowed out, she says, in “such an easy way.’’

Chandler performed a good 50 or so times with the guitar, strumming and singing to audiences at the Trailside Café, during the Festival of Small Halls and at numerous other events and venues.

The relationship between musician and musical instrument was magical.

“It was like my very best friend,’’ she says.

“It was a huge tool helping me through my grieving process.’’

That valuable tool was snatched from her garage Friday, Feb. 9.

When the guitar went missing, Chandler searched her house top to bottom.

“Then the true panic started to set in,’’ she says.

“It was shocking to me that it wasn’t there.’’

She tried to calm herself.

She reminded herself the guitar is just a thing, so remain rational.

But her strong emotional attachment to the guitar left little room for logic to prevail.

“It’s a major loss. It’s a best friend.’’

She called the police.

She also put a short post on her Facebook page informing friends and the response was overwhelming with hundreds sharing her post. Many offered kind words.

“Everyone was so helpful and understanding,’’ she says.

Within five hours, a music store in Charlottetown contacted Chandler.

The store, she was informed, had received a call from a person who wanted to buy her a replacement guitar as similar as possible to the one that was stolen. The person also wanted to remain anonymous.

“It’s extremely overwhelming that somebody I may not know could be that kind,’’ she says.

“I’ve never felt more like writing a song…I don’t even know what to say, I’m so moved…I will be forever grateful.’’

Still, Chandler would like to be reunited with her best friend.

She wants the stolen guitar returned, but is realistic the likelihood of that happening falls somewhere between slim and nil.

If, though, the person - or people – who took her guitar were to return it, all she would do is say “thank you.’’

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