Shine Your Light is a weekly radio show featuring live music, poetry, comedy and conversation, spearheaded by Matthew “Toots” Toothill
32-year-old Matthew Toothill is a singer-songwriter focused on spreading messages of hope and positivity
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Toots just yet. He’s a relatively new name on Whitehorse’s local music scene, but despite the lack of live music opportunities these past several months, he’s been able to get his name out there a lot more than one might expect. Toots is 32-year-old Matthew Toothill, a singer-songwriter originally from England, who ended up in the Yukon because of what he calls “a weird mixture of love and work.”
“What keeps me here is the desire to experience community and connection,” he said. “And to see what I can provide in these areas and to learn and grow from a life lived in one place.”
To Toothill, music is a form of self-expression, in which he can convey emotions and messages he wouldn’t be able to get across in normal conversation. He was always into punk music with meaning. He wants people to both enjoy his music and dance to it, and also come away from it with things to think about.
“There is so much insincerity around us,” he said. “It’s used to sell products, convince us of political agendas and bend the truth. I just want the message of my music to be one of sincerity.”
This summer, Toothill’s name started popping up around Whitehorse, notably with a performance as part of Arts in the Park’s re-imagined radio show. After performing live on CJUC 92.5 FM as part of the series, and with real live performances being so sparse these days, he felt inspired to start his own radio show. Toothill is now presenting Shine Your Light, a weekly radio show on CJUC. Every Sunday at 7 p.m., Shine Your Light features different artists performing music, poetry and telling stories. Wanting to pick up where Arts in the Park left off, but also expand beyond just a music show, Toothill was easily able to join forces with CJUC’s Bill Polonsky and start his show promptly, with the first performance taking place on Sept. 13. Shine Your Light has already showcased performances by Caroline Allat, Emilie LeFrancois, Elise Brown-Dussault and a new local act, Denim.
“I wanted to keep live music in people’s lives and give all levels of audible art a platform,” said Toothill.
One passion of Toothill’s is increasing and fostering dialogue surrounding mental health. In a time where this is very much needed, Toothill is taking some innovative approaches to de-stigmatizing mental health struggles and bringing attention to organizations with his shared vision. Unfortunately, in an age of social distancing and fear towards one another, the community’s collective mental health is not at its best, according to Toothill.
This summer, Toothill teamed up with a host of musicians including Selina Heyligers-Hare and Calla Kinglit to put together a compilation album, for which six artists each submitted a song. The album, titled We See You, can be purchased on Bandcamp. All the proceeds are going to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Right now, it’s a more important time than ever to keep bringing music to people, to keep shining a light on mental health and to send out a message of hope.
“Music is humanity’s greatest achievement, but it’s so often taken for granted and overlooked,” said Toothill. “It is so important that we support all artists during times like these, because it’s during times like these that art supports us.”
Listen to Shine Your Light on CJUC Community Radio at 92.5 FM every Sunday at 7 p.m.
Head over to the series’ Instagram account, @shineyourlight.cjuc to see who’s up next.