Given the epic scope of Eleanor McCain’s new double-CD project, True North: The Canadian Songbook, a lavish album launch seemed appropriate. That is exactly what transpired at Toronto’s elegant The Carlu on Wednesday night, and the event attracted both the singer/philanthropist’s well-heeled friends and many music industry notables.
McCain selflessly gave the release party another function, to raise funds for MusiCounts, the CARAS-backed organization promoting music in schools. The Maple Leaf Foods heiress teamed with CARAS to create five new commemorative Band Aid grants, each of $20,000 in musical instruments that is double the usual $10k each.
McCain and MusiCounts fundraised for these grants both ahead of and during the Carlu event, and her friends rallied to the cause. The goal of $100k was actually exceeded, and all additional funds raised will fund future Band Aid grants.
The five new recipient schools are:
Winnipegosis Elementary School, Winnipegosis, MB
École primaire Langlois, Salaberry de Valleyfield, QC
St. Aidan Catholic School Toronto, ON
Qiqirtaq High School, Gjoa Haven, NU
Jack Holland Elementary School Whitehorse, YT
In addressing the audience, CARAS President and CEO Allan Reid talked of his passion for this cause. He noted that “it is unfortunate we need to exist, for funding of music education should come from the levels of government.” He stated that 825 school music programs from across Canada have benefited from nearly $10 million worth of Band Aid grants.
Drawing cheers at the event was a performance by students of DoaneUschool, the Band Aid-supported ukulele-based program created by singer/songwriter Melanie Doane.
McCain then took to the stage, accompanied by the National Academy Orchestra, keyboardist and album producer Don Breithaupt, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin, and backing vocalist Lorraine Lawson.
They performed eight songs from the double-CD set, beginning with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and closing out with a spirited take on Bryan Adams’ “Run To You.” Present in the audience were such collaborators on True North as arrangers Peter Cardinali, Aaron Davis, Lou Pomanti, Shelly Berger, and Donald Quan, engineer John Bailey, Liona Boyd, Ron Korb, and John McDermott.
Also spied at the grand soiree were Steve Kane, Deane Cameron, Chris Taylor, Denise Donlon, David Kines, and Jack Ross.
True North: The Canadian Songbook is being released on Retriever Records today, May 12.