Published October 30, 2012 19:49
Dovercourt Clubhouse member Elissia has been in the news recently for the anti-bullying song that she made with fellow artist John Macpherson.
Many kids experience bullying through their childhood, and one little girl in Toronto was no exception.
But instead of retreating inward, Elissia Mariah decide to explore her feelings about being bullied through music, and she did that with the help of Napanee musician John Macpherson.
With the help of Toronto-based Barbara Sedun, who’s worked in the music industry for two decades, 19-year-old Macpherson, with music writing experience under his belt, and 11-year-old Mariah, with emotional fodder for a potentially great song, got connected.
“Barbara told me a bit of her story, her having trouble at school, and that she needed help writing a song,” explains Macpherson, who’s been working on his own music for years and putting it out independently through social networking sites like Facebook, twitter, and youtube. He has 100,000 hits on his youtube channel and a couple hundred subscribers.
He says he came to the creative table with the general ideas for a song and then spent several sessions with Mariah, over the internet video conferencing software called Skype, working with her on the lyrics for the song.
“We linked up over Skype in the summer since she’s in Toronto and I’m in Napanee. I came in with the song idea and had the bulk of it, then had her put her spin on it and change a few words, see what she was comfortable with, until we were both happy with it,” Macpherson explained.
The song is titled “Perfect the Way You Are,” and it explores some of the emotions that Mariah felt after her experiences being bullied.
The lyrics offer a message of encouragement and validation, stating, “Sometimes you feel so small, like you’re nothing at all. Believe me, you’re worth it‚” and “No matter what they say, please don’t ever change, the way you look to me, you’re perfect the way you are. No matter what they do, you’ve got to stay true, inside and out...”
Sedun, who worked for EMI Music Publishing for many years, says she found Mariah at former Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner’s vocal school, and she met Macpherson through a mutual friend in Kingston.
She says it was a good fit bringing the two young singers together.
“Elissia would ask me about writing songs,” says Sedun. “She’d never written one before, and John had never co-written. So they wrote this song together. Elissia gets bullied at school, so that’s what the song was about. It’s a really good message and they’re both really good kids. It’s (an issue that is) close to kids’ hearts, when you hear about what’s going on in the world,” Sedun said.
Macpherson and Mariah were given some donated studio time at former Our Lady Peace and current Crash Karma guitarist Mike Turner’s Pocket Studios, to record the song. Both that version and the live video version of the two performing in Conservation Park in Napanee are available online, on SoundCloud and on Youtube.
Macpherson says it was a fun experience, working with Mariah.
“She’s very confident for her age, and has good natural talent and a good fan base on the internet, so that was cool. It was interesting to see someone at that stage of development, that early, just having the excitement about music and being really fresh, with no insecurities or fears. It’s fun to support people and help them write their first song.”
Sedun likes taking on the role of connecting musicians and setting up collaborations, and guiding them into the path that could lead to some future musical success for both talented youngsters. But she says she’s stayed at arm’s length so that they can also make discoveries on their own.
“I’m trying to guide them, because they’ll learn more if I help them figure out what to do, than tell them exactly what to do,” she said.
So far the song has had several thousand hits on youtube and is garnering some positive feedback. But Macpherson says the project is less about marketing, or even capitalizing on an ever-increasing problem, and more about giving voice to the things that so many young people feel, and providing a platform for discussion.
“You can make it entertainment, you can write a song with a message that people can like, but you can also share and get them talking in a social way instead of keeping it inside,” he explains. “I think everybody experiences (bullying) in some form or another, whether it’s directly, or being left out of social situations. Sometimes people not saying anything at all can be a form of bullying. I think everybody has their own thing they go through.”
Sedun agrees with the importance of putting the message out there, and using music as a tool for discussion and creative release.
“Everybody has their creative outlets. Some people sing, some write, everybody does something different. I think music is just a really good way of sharing ideas without pushing too much or making people uncomfortable. It can bring about a conversation they might not have otherwise.”
You can hear John Macpherson and Elissia Mariah’s song, “Perfect the Way You Are,” on their youtube channels at youtube.com/sweetmelody100 or youtube.com/johnmacmusic.
Or, you can hear the studio recording at www.soundcloud.com/elissia-mior/perfect-the-way-you-are.