The Fairly Odd Hillcrest Folk
t’s always humbling to hear other people sing covers of my songs, but walking into a school gymnasium and hearing 300 kids singing Brave Face took that feeling to a whole new level. Their sweet innocence and the purity of all their voices together singing about how they can do anything they put their mind to, was so humbling, so inspiring, so fulfilling.
Let me back up a little bit. Last summer I played a show on Mayne Island, BC and a guy named Brook Roberts was in attendance with his family. Brook is a music teacher in Salmon Arm, BC and had put on a program with Shred Kelly a few years ago where the band came to the school, taught the kids some of their songs and did a concert with them. After our show on Mayne Island, Brook approached us about doing something similar and though we didn’t know what that would entail or how it would look, we were very interested.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, we arrived at Hillcrest Elementary School where the grade 4’s and 5’s had been learning seven of my songs since spring break and had been crafting a show around them. They had a different band for each song (drums, bass, piano) and vocal soloists for each verse, about 30 soloists in total! It was amazing to see kids come out of their shell as they played and sang and found their voices even in the few days that we had with them leading up to the show. I was able to do some music mentorship and work on mic technique and stage presence with the soloists, and Zoltan designed an entire production with sound, lights, and smoke and exposed the kids to that side of performing which was totally inspiring for the kids, and the highlight of the show for a lot of them.
We also had the opportunity to visit the other classes in the school and do some Q & A’s, and chat with the kids. One of the classes said that they had had a discussion earlier about their connections to the lyrics of the songs and a few of the kids shared how they had a connection to the song Brave Face because they have dreams of doing big things with their life and that song was an encouragement to them. It was so humbling, and was a really incredible reminder of why I write and play music. These kids have their whole lives in front of them, and if I can give them a little inspiration to follow their dreams, that gives me purpose in what I do because I want to see them be all they can be.
It was an amazing experience that culminated in three concerts with the students that went so well and blew the audiences away. It was amazing to see how they all worked together, shone their lights, sang their hearts out, and made music come alive.
Since being home, Zoltan put together a short film with a live video of one of the songs, Brave Face, that the whole concert centred around, and some shots from our time at the school. I will always hold these students and our time there close to my heart and this video is such a great glimpse into what we did and what the kids accomplished.
Music in the hearts of children is such a beautiful thing and can truly change the world.