In October of last year, media outlets from all over the country were reporting a hateful attack on a young choir conductor from Nova Scotia named Scott Jones. Although he was left with serious and irreparable damage, Scott’s spirit, determination, and support from family and friends inspired him to start the Don’t Be Afraid campaign, which uses art and creativity to help dissolve the fear surrounding homophobia/transphobia and promote a deeper acceptance of all human beings in our communities.
Shortly after hearing about Scott, I was contacted by the Kokopelli Choir Association in Edmonton and commissioned to write a song in support of Scott and his campaign. The song, also called “Don’t Be Afraid”, was arranged for the choir by the talented Jen McMillan and presented for the first time at Podium, an international choral conference that took place in Halifax in April 2014. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the conference, hang out with the choir, and meet Scott and his family.
The reason I’m writing my blog post this month about Don’t Be Afraid (the campaign and the song) is to draw more attention to activism in art and the ways in which we can help create communities that are open and accepting to everyone. Hearing Scott’s story, and just last week reading about the two grade 6 students whose social justice project on gay rights was shut down by their principal as being “inappropriate for their age” (National Post), just shows that there is still a pervasive fear of the unknown that needs a lot more light.
Lastly, if you're interested in hearing "Don't Be Afraid" in person, the Eclipse Chorus will be performing it for the first time for audiences in Saskatoon at their Christmas concert. Rosie and The Riveters will also be performing at the concert which takes place on Sunday, December 14, at 7:30pm at The Broadway Theatre. Tickets are $23 and can be purchased at the theatre's box office.
To learn more about the Don't Be Afraid campaign and how you can participate in their interactive art project, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dontbeafraidcampaign.