Canadian artists collaborate to raise awareness for importance of youth music education

SingitFwd at the Vogue Theatre, 3/21/18

Ryan Guldemond- Mother Mother. Photo by Mary Collier

Canada comes together this year to celebrate the 48th Juno awards and more importantly one of the first years that Nickelback is not up for an award. Everyone can put their feet up and not have to worry about “looking at that photograph” anymore- the dog days are over my friends. Instead, a resurgence of Canadian music has erupted from some of the harshest landscapes from coast to coast. On Wednesday, March 21 a motley crew of Canadian artists came together to share the spirit of music and give back to the Saint James Music Academy (SJMA) at the SingitFwd show at the Vogue Theatre.  

Founded in 2011, Singitfwd has brought Canadian musicians together alongside the kids of Saint James Music Academy (SJMA) and has raised $200,000 for the non-profit music school (started 10 years ago by DTES resident and mother, Kathy Walker).

Photo by Mary Collier

The show started off with Vancouver cuties, Peach Pit. In their overalls and Dad sweaters, Peach Pit got the show going with their summer feeling  indie pop beats. In between each act were videos featuring artists such as Shad playing music with children across Canada. Notable highlights from the showcase were Khari Wendell McClelland who performed a soulful and deeply emotional cover of David Bowie’s “Five Years”. Then, Ottawa’s golden boy Leif Vollebeck came on stage, plonked himself down at the keys so effortless it was as if he was just playing a quick tune on his Granny’s dusty old piano. The sheer explosive energy and love Leif puts into each song shows why events such as Singitfwd are vitally important to the Vancouver music community. Allowing kids to express themselves with music and learn instruments is an opportunity that every child should have.

A stripped down version of Mother Mother came on stage and frontman, Ryan Guldemond had a similar disposition to Bill Nighy’s character, Billy Mack in Love Actually, saying that “ the rest of the band isn’t here because they don’t like children.”  Guldemond eventually warmed to the kids and brought the SJMA choir on stage to play “Simply Simple.”  

The finale was spectacularly moving when all the artists came on stage (Mother Mother, Said The Whale, Leif Vollebekk, The Zolas, Dawn Pemberton, Khari Wendell McClelland, Louise Burns and Peach Pitt) to play with the concert organizers, Hey Ocean and the SJMA children’s choir. With over 50 performers on stage they all came together to sing The Tragically Hip’s ““Ahead by a Century.”

Khari Wendell McClelland. Photo by Mary Collier

With the passing of one Canada’s brightest musical lights, Gord Downie, the torch has now been passed down to a very talented and passionate generation who are ready to sing it forward.