Let's agree that most YouTube videos of cover songs by high-school students are meant to entertain a small circle of friends and earn derisive snorts much beyond the school grounds. Few are so pure in intention and strikingly beautiful in execution that they break the heart of the original artist.
Canadian students Kate Macdonald and Janelle Blanchard recorded a version of Neko Case's brooding "Star Witness" on a school staircase and the result moved Case to tears. "Wow. That just made me bawl my eyes out," she tweeted. "What beautiful singers. I'm not worthy... Holy god. They broke the shit out of my heart!!" Mine, too. They accomplish this with a ukelele, angelic voices, a talent for harmony - and a mission to save their school.
The Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School houses an arts-intensive program that draws creative students from the Toronto area. But, in September, the local school board voted to close the school. It is the only school in downtown Peterborough and is described by locals as vital to the life of the community. Kate and Janelle took to the stairwell to record Case's song to draw attention to the impending closure. That tweet from Case has the video (by Jared Raab) flying around the internet. You don't want to miss it. This is a tough time for school arts programs and these enormously talented students give the need to support arts in schools faces and achingly clear voices.
Learn more here.
The Kate and Janelle story has been picked up by the music press and once again Neko Case's support has focused attention on Peterborough school closing. Case invited the duo to a December 10 concert in Kingston, and invited them backstage. Aol's Spinner quoted Janelle as saying. "She was crying and hugging us. It was just an amazing experience. She's one of the most genuine people I've met. She's so nice. It was amazing." The Spinner piece with more coverage is here.
There is also an update on the local school board's activity and a benefit concert scheduled for the spring at the Learn More link above.
The No Depression community's response has been overwhelming and supportive. Thank you for the many kind comments and for passing the word here and on Twitter and Facebook.
Performed by Kate Macdonald & Janelle Blanchard
Recorded in the stairwell at P.C.V.S. by Alex Unger with assistance from Emmott Clancy
Video by Jared Raab