Toronto music maven Darnell Thomas has painstakingly amassed video and vocal tracks independently recorded on more than 30 smartphones to create a virtual choir singing O Canada (hashtag: #WeStandOnGuardForThee) that had its official release June 30 on various social media platforms, including YouTube.
"I started during covid-19 and the inspiration for this that came from everything that was going on, particularly in the last month with the civil uprising,” Thomas said in a phone interview this week.
Further explaining, he says he provided the singers, drawn from music biz friendships and several choirs and music academies, with instructions on how to record using a phone and then meticulously stitched the voices and video images into a whole in the studio over two “exhausting” 16-hour sessions with audio editing by Tal Vaisman and the video editing provided by Tino Mongeli.
While the project is a nod to Canada, the underlying thrust is to celebrate an inclusive “we” aspect to the massed choir that includes people of colour and indigenous voices (BIPOC) and the full spectrum of LGTBQ2S+ citizens.
Explaining this, Thomas says in his press release for the project: “When we sing ‘in all of US command’, that ‘US’ refers once again, to ALL citizens of Canada. But to date, BIPOC & LGTBQ2S+ citizens are yet to completely feel that pride and inclusivity and equity of the ‘US’. So, as you enjoy this anthem, remember the BIPOC and LGTBQ2S+ communities remain deluged with injustice and for that reason, WE sing and stand in solidarity with the BIPOC and LGTBQ2S+ communities. WE STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE!”
All proceeds from the project are directed to the Nia Centre for the Arts - a Toronto-based not-for-profit that supports, showcases and promotes an appreciation of arts from across the African Diaspora. The musical piece was released on Tuesday 30th June, on YouTube and other social media platforms. A commercial release on all music streaming platforms is coming shortly.