Canadian Women of Song
Start date: 25 February, 2017
End date: 25 February, 2017
Our project, as its title states, is a celebration of the journey and impact of Canadian women in popular music from the pioneers of the sixties and seventies to today's youth. This project was designed to correlate with International Women's Day, bringing the community (over 800 participants) together for education and appreciation. We will learn about the early struggles of women seeking inclusion in the popular music landscape, and appreciate the diversity represented by this group of women, and Canada itself. We are featuring artists of all generation of popular music from across the country, with a focus on First Nations, Inuit and African-Canadian women singers. We are also using this opportunity to increase our community out reach by hosting ten not for profit organizations that focus on women's needs and interests, and provide them with a venue for their own promotion.
Nature of the Project Reach
We have involved seven local Women's groups who offer assistance to people in the community and surrounding areas. They will have information tables set up at the concert displaying items of interest. A brochure outlining their respective mandates will be handed out. Local businesses are involved in sponsoring both the concert and individual songs. The City of Peterborough will be respresented and is one of the granters of our organization. This initiative is funded in part by the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough and the Govenment of Canada
*to celebrate the history and talent of Canadian Women songwriters and singers
*to bring seven local Women's groups together to inform the community about their respective mandates
*to inspire people from all walks of life be part of our local culture
* to inspire people to reach out and help others
*to showcase what is happening locally to make a difference in the lives of women and young girls
Article in Peterborough Examiner following Women of Song event - written by Rosemary Ganley
Last week I was musing on how we Canadians must now, thoughtfully and assertively, create and strengthen our cultural and political reality in the next little while to counter what is happening to America.
And then on Saturday, I witnessed a stunning and unexpected demonstration of this very thing.
Out of local talent that is second to none anywhere in this country, and from a gem of an idea from my esteemed fellow columnist David Goyette, came a program of music that celebrated Canadian women, Canadian life, in a way I have never seen.
Carried to fulfillment by the brilliant husband and wife duo of Syd and Pam Birrell and the 100 trained voices of the Peterborough Singers, the concert, called Canadian Women in Song enthralled some 900 attendees at Calvary Church.
Syd is a gifted classical conductor, who will now turn to Mozart for the May 6 Requiem Mass performance here in Peterborough. But as a partner to the vibrant Pam, who asked him to arrange the mostly pop songs which Canadian women have successfully sung over the past 50 years, he entered into long research, assisted by his teenage daughter, and rose to write beautiful arrangements for the voices. Steve McCracken did the band arrangements. Syd modestly said he was happy to just sing along this concert, leaving the conducting to Pam, which she did with joy and verve.
What concert- goers took away was a huge admiration for the collaboration it all showed. What could be more appropriate for International Women's Day, March 8 than this performance? It deserves national coverage. Suitably, it was attended by Canada's Minister for the Status of Women, MP Maryam Monsef.
So whose songs would you expect to hear in such a program? The planners had the dilemma of selecting fifteen singer/composers, out of hundreds that came to mind, and they apologized in advance for leaving out some great work (ie Diana Krall, Molly Jackson, Amy Sky).
But we heard memorable renditions of songs made popular by Susan Aglukark, Anne Murray, Sylvia Tyson, Rita MacNeil. K.D. Lang, Jonie Mitchell, Jann Arden, Sarah McLaughlin, Lesley Feist, Carly Rae Jepson, Avril Lavigne, Serena Ryder, Celine Dion and Shania Twain. As the concert had begun with an indigenous artist, it ended with Buffy Ste Marie.
Linda Kash humorously gave the audience a bit of biographical information about each woman as the concert proceeded. Small towns in Alberta seems to have produced the most!
This concert had none of the flag-waving fervour so often seen in our southern neighbours, but it hummed with a quiet patriotism and pride in real accomplishment and creativity. Jonie Mitchell is a true poet and philosopher, one realizes.
It was also an expansion in everyone's musical experience. Certainly expanded mine. Did I ever really hear, let alone enjoy, the lyric of Stompa till Saturday? The Peterborough Singers are nurturing young talent, and 12 of them sang some contemporary favorites with gusto. Did you really know that the spirit of Call Me Maybe is poignant and uncertain?
The concert featured a highly professional back-up band with Rob Phillips, Barry Haggerty, Curtis Cronkwright, Andrew Affleck and David Goyette (the man is everywhere). The soloists were radiant: Kate Suhr, Victoria Pearce and 19-year- old Tanya-Leah Watts.
One of the blessings of living here for so many years is that I know so many people in this group of singers. Taught at St. Peter's with Mary Claire Nepotiuk. The Unitarians are there big time: Marion Habermehl, Ben Wolfe and Jovanna Soligo. Barb and Rick Hilts lead service at the Mount. Fred Huffman and Walter Downes are neighbours. Andy and Erinn Burke, brother and sister, are involved in international work.
For me, it's not going too far to say Calvary Church was holy ground last Saturday.