Making Music to Make Change

Regardless of genre or gender, music has the ability to capture the interest of an audience. This is a concept that 15-year-old Emily Ross is applying to her own concert production, called Because I am a Girl.

“Music sums up feelings better than words,” Ross says. “No language unites people, but music appeals to everyone.”

The concert Because I am a Girl takes place on Oct. 11 at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse and features six teenage musicians.

The purpose of the concert is to promote awareness of the discrimination and lack of basic human rights millions of girls face in more than 50 developing countries. Proceeds from admission and refreshments will all be going towards Plan.

The creation of the show is inspired by the international campaign, Because I am Girl, which was first established in 2007 by the British-based children’s development organization Plan, using magenta as the official colour.

Ross’s interest was first piqued when she heard Canadian youth fiction author Eric Walters. When Ross was in grade 7, Walters came to her school as a guest speaker. He talked about his books, as well as his own charity called Creation of Hope which strives to provide care for orphans in Kenya. “When I listened to Eric speak about Organization of Hope, I became inspired and began to believe in that cause, which also led me to look at different global organizations, and discover Because I am a Girl,” she enthuses.

Ross chose Oct. 11 as the concert date because it is the date the United Nations declared is the International Day of the Girl Child.

“(We want to) help out as many people as possible through this organization, as well as showcase talent, and educate the audience about where their donations are going,” says Ross.

This is the first Because I am a Girl concert in Whitehorse, but the community has been encouraging.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” Ross says. “I’ve also received additional support from Yukon Women In Music, and the Youth Investment Fund. Social committees from various highs school will be donating refreshments, with proceeds going towards the campaign.”

One social justice topic of specific interest to Ross is education.

“There are no equal education opportunities in third world countries; as a girl that really hits close to home,” she says.

According to Plan, 66 million girls do not have access to primary or secondary school. Plan is working to help communicate to parents the importance of their daughters’ education and provide educational funding. According to Plan, once a girl is fully educated she can increase her household income by 18 per cent.

Joining Ross in this cause, is performing artist Selina Heyligers-Hare. She has been involved with music for many years, and currently performs in a band called Dead Simple. When the opportunity to play for Because I am a Girl came up, the 16-year-old rock singer jumped at the opportunity.

“I am very happy to have this chance to support (the concert), which can give girls who aren’t as privileged as us a chance to be educated and become the powerful women that they can be,” Heyligers-Hare says.

Implementing positive changes for girls in developing countries is not an easy task, but it is easy to support the cause and increase one’s own awareness of the issues at stake.

The concert Because I am a Girl will be approximately 2 and a half hours, featuring 26 performances in the musical styles of pop, rock, oldies, ballads and piano tunes. The show takes place on Friday, Oct. 11 in the Grey Room of the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre, starting at 8 p.m. For more information contact concert manager Lisa Ross at [email protected]

Magenta will be everywhere, so don’t be shy to wear the colour and show your support.

In the words of the late rock-star Jimi Hendrix, “Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, it can only happen though music.”

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