We love sharing stories of Ottawa’s musicians lifting up their communities with their art, and hardly anyone else can match the efforts of Tara Shannon. Originally from Russell, Ontario, this songwriter and vocalist’s success is no stroke of luck, but rather the product cultivated talent, hard work, and a sincere and focused drive to help others.
She has harnessed her music to help many local causes, including Jonathan Pitre’s Butterfly Child Project, the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, and countless charity fundraisers she’s performed at and organized. She also sits on the board of Amazing People Ottawa, which seeks to “honor amazing people in our community and celebrate the work that they do,” while also raising money for SchoolBOX and Hera Mission charities.
The latest project she is championing is the BeYou campaign, a partnership between Shannon, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, and Morguard Shopping Centres. Together, they are bringing an important message to young girls: just be you.
As part of the campaign, Shannon was invited to write a song — also called BeYou — that expresses the challenges faced by girls, and encourages them to experience their lives on their own terms. We interviewed Shannon about her involvement in the campaign, and her passion for the cause is clear when discussing some of the troubling issues surrounding the self esteem of young girls. At an early age, Shannon tells us, girls start to pick up the messaging that they are “less than.”
“When girls turn 9, they lose all sense of confidence.” she says. “Fifty percent of girls at 10 years old have already been on a diet. Having two daughters myself, it’s just terrifying.”
The BeYou campaign aims to bring to light the challenges faced by girls today that result in these heartbreaking statistics. Interactive workshops and events that aim to empower young girls are being held across the country at Morguard shopping centres. And Shannon’s anthem “BeYou” is at the centre of the project.
Making this song happen was a truly collaborative affair. Shannon travelled to Nashville to work with Sandy Ramos and Hayley Rita, who co-wrote and produced the song in Nashville — a process she describes as organic, given the talent and subject matter. The song itself was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Bryan Adams’ studio in Vancouver, while the music video was directed and shot by Karim Ayari here in Ottawa. When conceptualizing the narrative of the video, one message absolutely had to come across, says Shannon: “Being true to yourself brings the most authenticity; it makes you the happiest.”
Shannon will be touring Morguard shopping centres and spreading the message of the campaign through song. During the week of September 18 – 24, she will be performing in Brampton, Sudbury, and Ottawa. Read more about the BeYou campaign at beyougirl.ca.
She also has a lot lined up with her label, Willow Sound Records, in the coming months. Look out for new singles from Andrew Parton and Kyle Ivanich, as well as a Christmas record featuring all the amazing artists on the label.