Sunday night’s 90-minute Stronger Together fundraising broadcast for Canada’s food banks and the Red Cross admirably saluted our nation’s frontline workers but as an industry, we must also offer a salute to the creative that pulled this heartfelt and informative tribute together as well.
A big part of the show’s strength came from the artists who performed. The opening segment with Michael Bublé, Barenaked Ladies and Sofia Reyes' harmony-soaked samba, Gotta Be Patient (enjoy the confination) – and songbird Sarah McLachlan’s rendition of Paul McCartney’s Blackbird sparkled. And there were others, too; Measha Brueggergosman’s elastic rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone was as riveting as it was unique, and there were several other noteworthy mini-performances – but this is a broad brushstroke on a canvas that focusses on the sum of the parts.
There were others too, but also in the cast a network of people we might never have known but daily help keep the necessary machine parts working in hospitals, hospices, hostels, food banks, city-wide transportation services. The bare-bone nuts and bolts that deliver the mail, safeguard our interests, keep the barest of essentials in place as the many of us stay mostly in our homes.
The essential workers, paid and those who quietly volunteer, were given a face and a voice in this very Canadian show, and then the camera’s eye focussed on people like George P. Allen–a Bridgewater NS resident who lived through the Spanish Flu epidemic and was clear of voice at age 107–and Jemima Westcott from Napanee, ON who is 109 years of age.
At the very top of the broadcast there was that great Canadian humorist Rick Mercer, uniting us all in paying our respects to all those whose lives have been forever darkened by the murderous tragedy that took place in Nova Scotia last weekend past.
Stronger Together was also a unique moment of unfettered solidarity by the many who pulled the complex parts together to make it a show of which we can all be proud. It afforded us a snapshot of a quiet Canadian spirit at large. It showcased the many faces, voices, ethnicities, languages and colours that collectively make us who we are as a society in an age savaged by partisan politics and seeded with disharmony. Stronger Together offered us hope that there is another way and in a very Canadian way that isn't brazen, patronizing or bullying.
Hats off to Tyler Shaw and Fefe Dobson who were responsible for the pre-taped ensemble performances that came together in unity to perform Bill Withers’ Lean On Me. A perfect choice that bridged audiences, and captured the essence of what the show Stronger Together was all about.
As the clock drew the show to its close we had the PM speaking to the nation in a non-partisan voice–and at the close a seemingly humble and reflective Drake at home in Toronto speaking the Queen’s English without affectation and offering a rare show of humility that addressed his situation that wasn’t that dissimilar to that shared by us all.
Then there were the crews responsible for fitting this jigsaw together in record time. That would be Randy Lennox, Lindsay Cox, John Brunton, Mike Cosentino and Tyson Parker and the many broadcasters who put differences aside to stand stronger together for a spectacle that made us all so proud to be a part of in some way.