THE AWESOME MUSIC PROJECT – AN EVENING OF SONGS, STORIES AND SCIENCE
@ THE GLADSTONE HOTEL, TORONTO
OCTOBER 10, 2019
Music changes everything. It is a simple statement but perhaps a more powerful truth than we realize. The Awesome Music Project’s (AMP) mission is “to build a community that can accelerate solutions to mental health through music”.
Tonight, an inspiring group of Canadians came together to celebrate the release of the already best-selling book The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs of Hope and Happiness. Held in the ballroom at the Gladstone Hotel, the event began with a cozy reception which provided time for mingling, a free drink and hors d’oeuvres, as well as the opportunity to purchase the book and other merchandise to support the cause.
The entertainment portion of the evening was cleverly structured with a diverse selection of storytellers and musicians, all of whom contributed to the book. First on the stage was charismatic guitarist Ken McCaw with a lovely instrumental song played with only his left hand. After his performance he told the story of how after experiencing a stroke eight years ago, he was inspired to relearn his instrument even if it meant playing with only one hand.
Lieutenant-Commander Shekhar Gothi of the Canadian Armed Forces took to the stage next to explain how Barenaked Ladies’ version of Bruce Cockburn’s classic “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” gave him strength when he found himself buried alive by rubble while on assignment in Haiti at the time of the devastating earthquake in 2010. He noted the lyrics “You got to kick at the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight” particularly resonated with him. Ed Robertston and Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies then performed the song for the very enthusiastic crowd who gladly took the opportunity to sing along.
The story and song platform carried on throughout the evening with highlights including speakers Shaun Brodie from the Queer Songbook Orchestra and award-winning journalist Michelle Shephard along with DaveBidini of the Rheostatics,as well as The Good Lovelies. Co-author Robert Carli was on hand to provide introductions and even joined in one of the performances.
In addition to the touching stories and music, there was an excellent presentation showcasing the science behind music therapy and the potential benefits it can provide to people of all ages. Terry Stuart, co-author of the book, gave an impassioned speech about how his life has been touched by mental illness and explained how the funds raised by AMP will go directly towards their partnership program with Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). CAMH will study music’s effect on the brain systems using advanced brain imaging techniques.
It is no secret that music has the ability to lift our spirits, bring us together, and indeed help us through traumatic times in our lives. The incredible work being done by everyone involved with The Awesome Music Project will surely lead to invaluable scientific knowledge that will help people for years to come.
(Photography by Devina Browning)