Since he was a young boy in Quebec, Canada, singer Bernard LaChance knew he was destined for the stage. Although he doesn't have a record deal, the French Canadian has managed to sell out theaters in Canada's largest cities and has sold 30,000 CDs all by himself.
Without an agent, manager or record label, Bernard takes a personal sales approach to selling tickets, which he perfected when he was short on cash to rent Quebec City's Le Captiole. "They were asking $3,000. I had no money in my account. So I wrote them a check to give me the tickets," he says.
Racing to sell tickets before his check bounced, Bernard made a T-shirt with a seating chart on it and sold tickets on the street. He let people listen to his music, and crossed off their seats on his shirt. "It was my aha! moment," he says. "I sold $3,000 of tickets, I put the money in the account, and Monday the check got through."
Bernard then took his new t-shirt idea to Montreal and Toronto—where he sold out every concert!
Now, Bernard has his sights set on the United States—and he wants one very special guest in his audience. "I said to myself, 'I'm going to find a way to get Oprah,'" he says.
Using his entire savings, Bernard rented out the historic Chicago Theatre for his U.S. stage debut, which cost him $18,000. Though he had $18,000 in Canadian money, he needed just a little more to meet the American dollar. "I realized that I had to go back to sell some CDs," he says. "I sell my CDs myself, one by one."
Bernard hit the streets to sell seats, but he knew he needed to do something special to get Oprah's attention. With that in mind, Bernard posted a video on YouTube to introduce himself. "Listen, Oprah, I have two very good tickets here in the middle of the main floor ... for you and your friend Gayle," he says. "That would be my honor if Oprah Winfrey would come and check off her seats on my T-shirt."
Oprah and Gayle King heard Bernard's invitation loud and clear—and decided to give him a chance to make his dreams come true.
While selling tickets outside the Chicago Theatre, a local news crew was filming Bernard for the local news...or so he thought. Suddenly, a black SUV pulled up with a very special surprise inside—Gayle King! "Are those two seats still available, Mr. LaChance?" she says.
Bernard is literally left speechless as Gayle delivers some news. "Oprah's going to be out of the country June 6, the date of your concert," she says. "Because she can't come to your concert, she would like to know if you would come on The Oprah Winfrey Show and make your American debut."
"I can't believe this," Bernard says. "I'm shaking like a fool."
Bernard says he had actually given up on Oprah or Gayle ever showing up to claim their tickets. The night before Gayle's surprise, Bernard says he lost hope. "I was crying in my room that night, and you showed up the next day," he says. "I just saw those 15 years of working paid off."
Bernard says his parents Claude and Andrée have always been his biggest fans. Because they were unable to fly to the show, Oprah made sure they were able to watch their son's Oprah Show debut over Skype™.
"Singing is his calling, that's what I have always thought of him," Claude says. "I admire him."
With his proud parents watching back home, Bernard takes Oprah's stage to perform "The Impossible Dream."
Oprah says she loves seeing Bernard's dreams starting to come true. "What I loved about this is ... the innovation and determination to follow your own dream," she says.