DECEMBER – MusiCounts presented an Unsilent Night.
MusiCounts Unsilent Night was an online concert that featured the most impressive and mystique lineup of talent as it fell virtually for the first time upon the earth on December 10th, 2020 at 8 pm EST. The artists were real and raw showing their hearts upon their sleeves as they bared their souls during this enchanting time. Some acts, like the performances from the kids and community youth groups, expressed why music is a lifeline, a necessity especially now with so my uncertainties and stress. Celebrating their power of music brought me joy and comfort as we all banded together to raise funds for MusiCounts with all proceeds of ticket sales helping MusiCounts keep musical education thriving in schools and in communities that need it the most, so they can reach even more children in need from coast to coast to coast. To learn more about MusiCounts or to make a contribution and how you can help keep music alive in schools this holiday visit https://www.musiCounts.ca/donate
Kicking off the jam-packed evening was Kristy Fletcher, the Executive Director of Canada’s Music Education Charity, MusiCounts. She thanked us for joining and acknowledged the land we stand on here in Toronto, (FYI-MusiCounts is located at 219 Dufferin Street, Toronto), and proceeded to mention the traditional territory of the many nations like the Mississauga of the New Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, which now is home to diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, also highlighting that Toronto is covered and signed under Treaty 13 as well, covered by the Williams Treaty. To quote, Kristy Fletcher, “instead of thinking about how much of our normal has been lost during Covid-19 pandemic, let’s think about how much we have accomplished, and enjoy the remarkable achievements of the schools and community groups that you are about to hear real soon. These schools and groups have all received support from MusiCounts for their music programs. Let’s also remember the power of music. It can help us feel connected when we are far apart, it can give us hope when we are feeling low, and give us comfort when we are weary. Music makes a difference, MusiCounts!”
The first artist to perform this evening was the outstandingly euphonious Canadian internationally acclaimed Trio consisting of Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, and Victor Micallef from the award-winning, multi-platinum act, The Tenors. They engaged with their incredible smiles as they sang their Santa’s Wish (Teach The World) from their 2017 album, Christmas Together. http://www.tenorsmusic.com
The second act was The Bridge: Music For Life from Hugh John MacDonald School and they performed Bella We Tu, an African church song. They received MusiCounts grant in 2018 and their teacher Neil Watson shared, “every day I see the positive impact music has on my students, as they learn teamwork, building a community, and ceaselessly chasing perfection. Music does it all. And through performance, we spread the positive energy to our community and our city. Unlike any other medium, music has the power to bring people together, and I believe it’s needed now more than ever, the world needs music.“
Third up was a visit from Canadian award-winning, Gold-selling singer, songwriter, and actor, Tyler Shaw. at his piano inside his home. Tyler delivered a warm rendition of his single, Maybe This Christmas. When I hear his warm inviting flavor, I swear I hear award-winning Royal Wood’s influence. http://www.tylershawmusic.com
Next up was the 4th outstanding act, Juno award-winning Children Entertainer’s, Nick Adams and Taes Leavitt of Splash N’ Boots. They truly knew the magic of getting the audience up on their feet with their high energy original, Jingle Boots. Also, check out their new 2020 album entitled Heart Parade, which features Alice Cooper. https://splashnboots.com
Students from Mushuau Innu Natuashish School in Natuashish, NL performed an iconic Buffy Sainte Marie song, No City Life, including the verse they also wrote themselves, which was inspired by a painting that hangs in their school by local artist Scott Rich. MusiCounts has also helped get them the piano you see in their video performance.
Jeffrey Remedios, the President, CEO of Universal Music, and member of CARAS Board of Directors paid a visit, and had this to say, “the impact this pandemic has had on musicians, and on the music industry is unprecedented. Yet, through all the chaos, it’s music that we return to. So I would like to express my gratitude to all the artists performing tonight who lent their support and their artistry to MusiCounts cause. MusiCounts adds possibilities and that extends to all of us that are well beyond our school years. Enjoy the show tonight and take the opportunity to reflect on the hope, comfort, and inspiration that we get from music. From everyone here at MusiCounts, we wish you a happy holiday season and 2021 that’s filled with joy and lots and lots of music, Thank You.” https://www.universalmusic.com
I was so stoked to see the next performer, one of my teen heartthrobs from the 80s, that’s right, Grammy-nominated, multi Ascap, Socan, ADISQ, Diamond certified, 3-time JUNO winning Canadian Music Hall of Famer, and Canada’s Walk of Fame recipient, singer, and song-writer, Montreal’s iconic gem, Corey Hart. He shared, “Hi, this is Corey Hart. Thank you to music counts for inviting me to participate in the Unsilent Night. Hope you guys are having a warm Christmas, although warm and Christmas don’t go together, so it’s good it’s a little cold. I’m going to sing you a song that I used to sing a lot as a little boy growing up in Montreal. I had two favorites and 1 was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the other is this song, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Hope you guys like it. His extraordinary rendition left me speechless. When he finished the song he wished us a very Merry Christmas and for us to be well, be safe, and then blew us a kiss saying, “see you soon!” https://www.coreyhart.com
The stellar Warkworth Ontario’s newest female country music sensation, Sacha, performed next. She is the winner of the Havelock Jamboree’s competion Next Country Music Star 2016 and she blew us away with this popular classic, Let It Snow, and she sure gave us a beautiful rendition accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. https://touring.apa-agency.com/rosters/sacha/
Saskatoon Open Door Society Youth Band perfected and Alan Walker hit entitled Faded and they were the 2019 MusiCounts Support recipients and were able to move from renting equipment sporadically to having their gear in house year-round. https://www.sods.sk.ca
The extraordinary and ever engaging Canadian country singer, songwriter, 2 time CCMA winning, Juno nominee, and 1st solo female CMAO Fans choice recipient. Bowemanville’s Meghan Patrick, performed a beautiful classic acoustic version of I’ll Be Home for Christmas. https://www.meghanpatrickmusic.com
Gina Awdish, the President, and CEO of RX Music stopped in and had this to say, “as longtime supporters and a team that essentially lives and breathes everything music, we are proud to partner with MusiCounts and share this lovely celebration of the importance of children’s music education. As we all know music is an outlet for the heart and the mind, and it teaches us our most invaluable lessons. With all its remarkable challenges this year, that’s felt more than ever and I know we can continue to embrace music in our homes, and we do need music in our classrooms. Luckily those are in the same theme this year, so boom, I hope that you’ll please join our team in supporting the power of music education for young Canadians. MusiCounts is a special charity and they make a special impact in keeping the heart of music alive and well, and that’s an impact that will stay with our children for a lifetime. Thank you for your ongoing support and please be well.” https://rxmusic.com
Canadian act BROS, entertained us with their awesome original, Don’t Make No Fuss (It’s Christmas) from their NEW EP, A Very BROS Christmas, Vol. 2. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n1ixb_XrlGzfxaXEIyXNgU4M8763pXKQg
Internationally acclaimed multi Gemini awarded, Television/Radio personality, Canada’s 1st Ambassador Against Hunger, and pianist George Stroumboulopoulos blew my mind with him up close and personally raw and his real down to heart rendition of Christmas staple, Silent Night and I simply loved how he got one with the camera lens and wished us a “Merry Christmas and Happy holiday everyone.”
Jennifer Cleveland dropped by to share her personal MusiCounts memory and had this to share, “I am the music specialist at Fairview Heights Elementary School in Halifax Nova Scotia. In the spring of 2017 MusiCounts selected my school for a $10,000 band-aid grant and since then, we have made music together creating, improvising, as well, sharing with our communities. We had so much fun doing it, but 2020 has been a really challenging year and it has changed the way we have to do a lot of things right now. My students and I are not able to sing together in music class but, we do get to make music together every day and that’s because of MusiCounts. MusiCounts, you have no idea how much you have impacted my students. Music education doesn’t just exist at Fairview Heights but it’s thriving because of what you have done for us. Thank you so much for selecting us for this grant and thank you for selecting us to be a part of this project, we are so grateful.” A few kids expressed what they learned with music in school and then they performed Carol of the Bells as a whole class on xylophone, such a pretty unique and popping experience to witness.
Next up was a visit from Canadian Executive TV producer, author, public speaker, host, member of Order of Canada, past Vice President and General Manager of Much Music and Much More Music, past 3 time Canadian Music Week Broadcast Executive of the Year, Woman Visionary, 2-time Gemini, Golden Sheaf, Walter Grealis Special Achievement Juno recipient, prior Sony Music Canada’s Executive Director, as well CBC Radio’s Canadian Broadcast Hall of Famer, 1 off Canada’s top 100 powerful women, CMW Trailblazer recipient, and 20-year veteran member of MusiCounts, Denise Donlon dropped by with a special message. “Hello, my name is Denise Donlon and I hope everyone is having a grand time tonight? So, I’m going to ask you for money for MusiCounts. I’ve been on the MusiCounts Advisory Board for two decades, which doesn’t make me old, because you know what they say, “Confucius says youth rubs off,” and being able to give music education and instruments to young people from coast to coast to coast, is truly a remarkable thing. Now we’ve always known that music education isn’t just a nice to have it’s a must-have, the kids want it, and they deserve it. They’re going to extraordinary lengths to get it even during a pandemic. Now a lot of people think cuz music education is a group activity and yes, it’s a lot more difficult to sing as a choir but, I have to tell you, music teachers across the country have totally stepped up. They have ingenuity and because of them and the willingness of the students to learn, music education endures. Reality says music education teachers are working harder than ever and MusiCounts has done a really good job at pivoting quickly during this pandemic, providing new resources, has new ways of communicating, and having a natural National conversation for teachers across the country, so we are able to support music education in a new and meaningful way. SO, I want you to give to MusiCounts today, you know what they say, “giving makes you feel good,” so feel good and go to musiccounts.ca and donate. I’ll wait (chuckle) have you done it yet? I know you are going to do it, and I thank you for your contribution, and you will feel good, I promise you.”
I simply adore Juno awarded Mariana’s Trench and I have never heard Matt solo before, so this was a sweet treat! It was such a pleasure to witness the founder and pop rock guitarist, Matt Webb, performing a solo acoustic original that he wrote called Thousand Mile Christmas for his album The Second Noel. Well, this is his first time performing this song live, also. FYI, check out his solo 6 song EP called Right Directions.
The next performer gives me goosebumps every time. I’ve actually met and been photographed together and had the pleasure of interviewing him not once but twice. Have you guessed yet? He’s a past 4 time Juno and Gemini awarded gentle Canadian Children’s Family Entertaining giant, who’s a legendary performer, actor, composer, TV host, singer, songwriter, and keynote speaker, yeppers, the one and only, Fred Penner. He was so thrilled and had this to share, “Hello friends, Fred Penner here! Thank you very much to everybody at MusiCounts for inviting me to be a part of this year’s celebration, it’s a very strange Christmas for sure. But it is a time snd will always will be a time to show the people in your world how much you love and care about them. I too, want to show you how much I love and care about you by sharing this song with you. It’s a tune I wrote a few years ago about this season and it’s entitled, It Feels Like Christmas from my album ” When you completed the song He said, “great! Thanks for sharing that song with me I do want to end off with another tune you may be familiar with from my Fred penner’s place tv series called Take Good Care of Each Other. If you remember that guy who crawled through that long, will that was me. I ended every episode of that series with this song that’s particularly important message now as we go through our covid-19 experiences. If you know it sing-along and if you don’t know, learn it.” Once Fred completed the song he said, “I want to thank everyone at MusiCounts and please be safe, be well, and have a great holiday celebration and I’ll see you again before too long, I hope.”
Le Club Sportif et Culture Quest Canada was awarded MusiCounts 2019 grant and a portion of their hand drum class performed a breath takingly moving display called Drumology.
The Gulf Shore Consolidated School from Prince Edward Island closed the night with the final performance, and might I add, is was an emotionally breathtaking instrumental classic, Sleigh Ride. A student at Gulf Shore Consolidated School named Steven, had this to say about what music class means to him. “ there has never been a point in my life where music hasn’t been a big part of my life, especially now with stress and unlike other people it helped me concentrate and motivate me to get things done. I can connect with a lot of my favourite things to do joining the concert band has been one of the best decisions of my life. I love to feel and I love the feeling of being a team family!”
FYI, stay tuned for the winner of the prize pack being given away on December 14th, consisting of a MusiCounts Tocque, MusiCounts tote bag, heartstrings necklace which is made from guitar strings belonging to The Sheepdogs. So, if you have a donation of $200 or more MusiCounts includes your name and will be entered into a draw to win this prize package.
The spread of the young talent was almost like a fragile butterfly’s wings, yet so full of confidence and passion as they celebrated the power of music. Everyone glowed with happiness, and as bright as a polished gem with a light of love for all children burning in their hearts, like a flame that will never be extinguished. The fleshes of melodies the kids expressed within their arrangements were a perfect treasures of instrumental genius. This rousing showcase proves that music heals, uplifts, and guides the children, and for this reason, Music Education is a must in the schools. The brilliant roster of Canadian musicians was stellar!
Then to bid farewell, closing remarks once again came from MusiCounts Executive Director Kristy Fletcher as she stated, “thank you so much for joining us for the Unsilent Night and thanks again to all the teachers, students, and artists who shared the power of music this evening. MusiCounts relies on the support of our generous donations and partners to be able to sustain music education in Canada. If you are able, we ask you to join us in our task of making music education available to children and youth across the country, by making a donation this holiday season. No matter the size each gift means we are able to support more schools, more community programs, and ultimately, more kids. Visit https://www.musicounts.ca to learn more about how you too can get involved. And from all of us here at MusiCounts, we wish you a safe healthy, happy holidays, and a very joyful New Year, Thank You.“