PORT McNEILL—Georgia Murray got the Wild Heart Music Program started with an online fundraiser last fall.
Saturday, the Port McNeill-raised singer returned home to help 43 members of the fledgling youth choir in their debut before appreciative crowds in two concerts at Gate House Community Theatre.
The youth of the senior and junior choirs were among more than 50 who signed up when the program officially kicked off just after New Year’s.
“I’m so excited to be here and see all your support of the kids and the program,” said Murray. “I think so far it’s going so exceptionally well, and far beyond what I think any of us thought it could be. It’s blowing my mind, I hope it’s blowing yours.”
After the combined choirs performed Getting to Know You and Rockin’ Robin, the junior choir drew laughs and cheers with its presentation of the Tarzan Song. The combined groups then sang Under the Boardwalk before Murray joined the kids on stage to perform two of her own numbers — Won’t Get in the Way and Don’t Shut Up — with the choir singing the chorus.
“The vision for this started about five months ago,” said Wade Allen, pastor of St. John Gualbert Church, where the program holds its rehearsals each Wednesday afternoon. “If you look you’ll see the title of our program is A Unique Blend, and it really has been a unique blend of people and opportunities that have come together to offer this to the children of the community.”
The concert was originally scheduled for the church, but demand for tickets quickly exceeded its seating capacity, and Gate House Community Society stepped in to offer use of the theatre under its mandate to promote the arts on the North Island.
Murray chose to help start the Wild Heart program after traveling to Port McNeill with her band last April to perform a fundraising concert for a new roof for the church. Following the show, she was approached by both parents and youth who said they wished there was a music program for kids in the community, after the school programs were lost to budget cuts.
Eventually, directors hope, the choir can be expanded to include instrumental instruction, though that will depend on fundraising to help pay for instruction.
Fran Jenkins was hired to direct the choir, and brought the singers home following intermission with a Disney-oriented set that included Under the Sea (from The Little Mermaid) and Can You Feel the Love Tonight (from The Lion King), along with the Cyndi Lauper hit True Colors.
Before their set, Murray took the stage to perform a solo cover of Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans with support from a Voice Live Touch 2 vocal designer/looper, which she has been promoting internationally for TC-Helicon, a Danish company based in her current hometown of Victoria. Using the machine, Murray set down seven backing vocal and percussion tracks before launching into the song itself, which drew a hearty round of applause from more than 175 fans at Saturday’s matinee show.
She then finished her set in more traditional fashion, with her father, Craig Murray, providing acoustic guitar accompaniment on Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and You Are My Sunshine.