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Students get opportunity to be part of award-winning recording
Several dozen Alberta students can now claim they are part of an award-winning musical effort.
The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project, which primarily involved Aboriginal students from 10 Alberta schools as well as some Maritime musicians, won an East Coast Music Award.
The collaborative piece was selected as the children’s recording of the year at the awards show, held Apr. 15 in Moncton, N.B.
Cape Breton’s Keith Mullins and Halifax-based Thom Swift visited 10 schools in 10 days in March of 2011. At each school they were joined by up to 10 students.
Each day they helped students collectively write a song in one hour. An hour later it was performed for the school.
Then later each night, the musicians added their voices and the songs were recorded with the assistance of their fellow songwriter and producer Steven Bowers, who is also from Halifax.
The 10 songs then formed The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project.
Mullins, whose wife Jody is a Métis from High Prairie, is thrilled the venture was rewarded with an East Coast Music Award.
“It was amazing,” he said of the award win. “It was unbelievable getting support from our peers in the music industry.”
Mullins realized right from the start of this venture how unique it was.
“I knew it was pretty special and something outside of the box that hadn’t been done,” he said.
Students that took part in the project were chosen in a variety of ways. Some schools had teachers select which students were most deserving, based on their attendance and marks. Others had to enter a school contest by writing an essay detailing why they wanted to be involved.
The project involved seven schools from Fort McMurray. They were Father Beauregard Elementary School, Good Shepherd Community School, Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School, Father O.M.I. Turcotte School, Thickwood Heights School, Ecole St. Paul Elementary School and St. Martha Elementary School.
Also taking part were Fort McKay School, Fort Chipewyan’s Athabasca Delta Community School and Father R. Perrin School, which is located in Janvier.
Ruth Ryan, the principal at Fort McKay School, was thrilled students from her school were able to take part in the project.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “It was exciting for them. They really enjoyed it. Some of them are shy and it gave them some self-esteem doing this.”
Seven Fort McKay School students took part. They were chosen primarily for their interest in being involved. The Fort McKay students wrote a song titled “Blank White Page”.
Performing in schools is nothing new for Mullins. For the past decade he has been to countless schools where he has taken part in drum presentations and talked to students about careers in music.
Mullins believes The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project was an extension of what he had already been doing.
“It was a way for me to have a positive influence on the kids and to work with the schools,” he said.
A total of 5,000 CDs were made to be distributed through the schools. Proceeds will go to various charities as well as school programming.
The songs are also available on iTunes.
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