We all have potential and vision. Fear usually gets in the way from taking a vision to reality. For many years I had a vision for a music competition that would bring together closet musicians that have so much talent they should be on a stage. That vision came from my experience with two talented young men whose lives ended before they were able to really hone their craft – one, a neighbour, and the other, my son.
I was able to bring my vision to a reality in 2010 with the launch of the inaugural First Nation Music Competition in Whitehorse and on March 23 we’re proud to be hosting the fourth annual competition. The goal is to continue to provide a platform for First Nation musical talents and a healthy drug and alcohol-free event open to fan participation.
In the early ’90s while I was dismantling a log house in Lower Post, BC a young neighbour came out of his house. It was a very quiet setting. The young man settled onto the steps as the door closed behind him. He proceeded, as most confident musicians would, by checking the tuning of his acoustic guitar. Satisfied that it had the sound he wanted he proceeded to strum a chord progression.
You can hear the ability of a good guitar player by his strumming. He started to sing and I was immediately captivated by the music and the voice as he sang from his soul.
He did not notice he had one admiring listener. It was during this solo performance that I said to myself, “This young man needs to be performing on a stage.”
As life sometimes plays out, it was not to be. He struggled with alcohol and eventually it cut his dream short.
Life for me continued with many blessings including a son named Terry who excelled in hockey and loved music.
With kindness, he encouraged youth his age to overcome life’s struggles in a good way. His favourite music was hip-hop and he looked up to Tupac Shakur. He saw something good in this artist.
In high school, this young man used his voice in a local radio station to reach out to many. He was always willing to play listeners’ favourites, especially music he’d never heard before. Even when they happen to be his Dad’s old favourites from the late ’60s.
One summer, while on vacation in a southern city, we listened to the local radio station. The upbeat jingles were definitely not missed by my son – an up-and-coming radio personality. We connected with a famous rock radio station personality who could be heard on 14 CFUN in Vancouver during the early ’70s. He volunteered to send us a jingle and the Rocking Terry Carlick Radio Show never was the same again.
Life was looking very promising for Terry, but as life sometimes plays out it was not to be. A blessing came again in his son, TJ (Terence), and life continued.
This vision of providing a music venue for First Nation musicians came back into focus. By word of mouth, musical acts came and performed. They were not the regular performers you would find at any of the many music events: this event was created to bring the talented First Nation performers out of their living rooms, onto a stage, and in front of a big audience. The community came together in celebration and to help lift the event off the ground including my wife Kim, who volunteered to coordinate the feast, and to my daughter Melissa, who volunteered to spread the word on social marketing sites and generated a buzz.
In memory of Rockin’ Terry Carlick, the family donated a new guitar and Jordan Hawkins from Telegraph Creek received it. This event was very modest, but it had potential.
Since that first event in 2010, we have continued to build on the success and have been fortunate to have the help of so many people in the community.
Our circle of local talent reached out to Fort St. John and Smithers B.C. and into the Northwest Territories. There were fiddlers from Telegraph Creek B.C., and musicians from Old Crow and right here in Whitehorse.
This year, the fourth annual First Nation Music Competition will provide its usual surprises and people from all backgrounds are welcome to enjoy the music. First Nation Eagle Law is sponsoring a musician workshop and a one-hour performance by First Nation group, the Cheri Maracle Band from Toronto.
The event takes place on March 23 at Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre, with a feast sponsored by the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre from 4 to 6 p.m.
The music performances will start after the feast and could go to 1 a.m. All ages are welcome to this alcohol and drug-free event. There’s a blanket dance in the middle of the event where you can dance in a donation if you’re enjoying yourself.
See you there… gunishcheesh