What better way to get yourself into the Christmas spirit than by listening to some great holiday tunes and by helping those in need? On Friday, Dec. 8, you can join Tara Shannon and some of the great talent from her Willow Sound label at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, as they fulfill both of these wonderful seasonal traditions with their Amazing People Holiday Benefit Concert.
Now in its third year, this festive function will feature songs from the newly released Willow Wonderland, a Christmas compilation EP from some of the Willow Sound family. In the spirit of the season, all ticket proceeds will go to The Amazing People Movement, which raises money for such great charities as SchoolBox, Michaëlle Jean Foundation, Project North and Hera Mission of Canada.
With Shannon serving as host, this concert event will also serve to recognize Amazing People nominees Jonathan Pitre and his mother Tina Boileau, who are EB Ambassadors for DEBRA (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association) Canada.
Also onstage at the event will be a number of Ottawa musicians from the Willow Sound roster, such as Sam Timmins, Chantal Hackett, Jessica Pearson & The East Wind, Kae Shelby, and Kyle Ivan — all of whom, in addition to Tara Shannon, are showcased on the Willow Wonderland EP proper.
“I have a dear friend, Mark Ferguson, leading the band of incredible players [at the event] too,” said Shannon in an interview with Bytown Sound.
“And we usually have a few surprises too. Can’t give everything away!”
The event is a timely showcase for Willow Wonderland, which was released on Nov. 28; it’s a beautifully cohesive and festive set of six tracks, and may be purchased on iTunes.
“I let the artists choose songs that moved them or had meaning to them,” said Shannon, in discussing how the EP came together. “Steve Foley at AudioValley produced the album, and he did a great job finding a thread of commonality, sound-wise.”
This approach, where each individual lends their unique musical strengths to create a distinctly cohesive whole, is what Shannon’s decidedly non-traditional label is all about. As a collective of indie artists banding together to empower one another through “coaching, community and connection”, Willow Sound is just as much about teaching each artist how to bolster their musical talents with some business savvy.
“I see every indie artist as not only an entrepreneur but a start up company or mini corporation,” said Shannon. “I help them bring their product to market and build their equity. At the core, I am a business consultant/life coach/industry rep for them and I can relate to the journey because I am an artist and a business woman. Most of what we do is collaborative, from the showcase series, to the workshop series, to this holiday compilation so yes, I do see us making more of these types of EPs moving forward. I really do believe that together we are better.”
Fans of this particular release will be pleased to know that this is just the beginning of the Willow Wonderland series. Given the strong response for this festive venture, plans are already in place to showcase new members of the label every year with an annual release. Those who are looking to enjoy even more cheer this year, however, need only look in their digital stocking for three videos of traditional holiday tracks: Chantal Hackett with “The Christmas Song”, Jessica Pearson & the East Wind with “O Children Come”, and Tara’s cover of “Mary”, which was just released this past Saturday and can be viewed here:
It’s a taste of the holiday happenings on offer at this Friday’s Amazing People Holiday Benefit Concert, which will surely be a great event for the whole family to enjoy: admission is free for youths 13 and under, and $20 for adults. Be sure to show up at 7 p.m.. for the pre-show mix and mingle, and then enjoy the sounds of the season starting at 8 p.m. You can purchase your tickets here.