PORT McNEILL—When veteran children’s performer Rick Scott joined 31 members of the Wild Heart Music youth choir on stage of the Gate House Community Theatre last Wednesday, at least one person was star-struck.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Fran Jenkins, the former elementary school teacher who took on the job of director of Wild Heart Music when the after-school program was established in Port McNeill late last year. “I used his music in my classroom for 12 years. I never imagined I’d see him here on our stage.”
Scott arrived on the North Island fresh off winning the 2013 Western Canada Music Association Award for Best Children’s Recording. When introduced to a crowd of more than 100, he strolled into the theatre via an aisle, strumming a dulcimer, and paused to kiss his newly won trophy, which was perched at the front of the stage.
He then joined the youth choir, which deftly provided harmonies and call-and-response verses on a mix of songs from his 12-CD catalogue.
“When I came in yesterday, we only had two hours to put this whole thing together,” Scott told the audience during one of several story breaks. “The kids just focused. It was one amazing thing after another they were doing; I was just dazzled by it.”
He parlayed that observation into an introduction of choir members Christian Allen, Justice Allen and Josiah Waines, who performed an a cappella version of When I See an Elephant Fly from the Disney animated film Dumbo.
“See what I’m talking about?” Scott exclaimed as the crowd whooped at the end of the number.
The concert showcased both the youth choir and Scott, a rubber-faced performer whose act mixes song, storytelling and, when needed, wild gyrations and other movements.
Among the crowd favourites were the Yo Mo Concerto, a hip-hop ode to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Skip McCool, a tale of a fictitious dog written with the input of a school class he visited early in his performing career; and Angels Do, inspired by a granddaughter born with Down Syndrome.
By the end of the show, Jenkins discovered she was not the only star-struck performer on the stage, when an emotional Scott called her forward to accept a bouquet of flowers.
“To have someone in your community, just out of the bigness of her heart, to take these amazing kids and give them that love and give them that encouragement …,” he said. “I have had a ball these last two days playing music with them because of you.”
The concert was the second played by the Wild Heart choir at Gate House Theatre this year. Last spring the kids performed with Georgia Murray, the Port McNeill-raised singer who helped start the music program through an online auction held last year.