Interview – MusiCounts

By: Linda Heldman

I recently had the chance to have a chat with Vanessa Thomas, Director of MusiCounts which will help you understand what MusiCounts is all about, and also about their upcoming Benefit Show in Toronto on January 28, 2016.

How did MusiCounts begin?

MusiCounts began in 1997 and is associated with the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (More commonly known as the producers of the JUNO Awards). It began out of the need for support for music education in Canada.  As music programs have their budgets cut all too often, MusiCounts is there to fill the void.  Schools, and now community programs, get the instruments they desperately need to make sure all kids, especially those that need them most, get access to music in their lives.

What is MusiCounts function and mandate?

To get instruments into the hands of kids that need them most and to give a voice through music to those kids that don’t have one.  Much research has been done (and is ongoing) that shows the positive effects of music on the brain and on the academic achievements of those kids that are engaged in a music program.  There are too many schools and community-based programs all over Canada that either don’t have enough instruments and/or are operating with very aged and damaged inventories, or in some cases have no instruments at all to keep their music programs alive.

Many notable Canadian artists and musicians are great supporters of MusiCounts. Would you tell us about some of the ones that stand out to you?

Over the course of the years, we have had artists come out and visit nearly 100 schools and communities that have benefitted from our programs to celebrate the arrival of their new instruments.  Some of our most notable supporters include Gord Bamford and MAGIC!, who both made $100,000 contributions to MusiCounts programs.  Long-time ambassadors Jim Cuddy and Johnny Reid have both helped to raise a considerable amount of funds and awareness for our cause for many years and still continue to do so.  When we looked back on our year in 2015, Lights was also a clear stand out, who participated in multiple fundraising and media events.  The really great thing is that our support comes from all genres and all generations when it comes to the artist community in Canada and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

How can the general public help support what you do?

You can visit Musicounts.ca and spread the word; both to those that need our help and to those that can help us keep our vision going.  You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook and help us raise additional awareness on the importance of music education with a few simple shares, likes and retweets.

How did this benefit show come together? How were the acts chosen?

This benefit is actually the first ever self-produced fundraising concert MusiCounts has ever thrown.  We have good friends in the music industry who have really come through.  From supplying the venue, to the several great musicians involved, these are the people helping to make this happen.  Our hope is to draw a crowd of at least 500 from the tech, Bay St. and music industry communities.  The first band to join us is made up of a bunch of session musicians who now work in the tech world and who have a passion for music.  They have done other benefit shows for Second Harvest and are excited to spearhead this effort for us now, they are Bucket List.  God Made me Funky is one of he other bands that has a good following here in Toronto and local breakout group, The Elwins are the third band, who have an amazing sound.  We have three guest artists joining them Lee Aaron, the metal queen from the 80s/90s, Joey Landreth of The Bros. Landreth and Simone Denny from Love Inc., who will all be joining in on various songs with the bands throughout the night.  In essence, the show is truly in the spirit of how music can bring people together!  We will have Grand Electric providing food and a great silent auction with various getaways, concert tickets, guitars and more.  Please join us at the Phoenix on the 28th of January, doors open at 7pm.  Tickets at ticketbreak.com and you can also check out more details on our Facebook event page.

 

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