Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sarah Harmer: singer-songwriter and activist

Music on Sunday @ The Reaction

By R.K. Barry

A few years back I was involved in organizing a fundraiser for a candidate running for the Canadian Parliament from a riding (district) in Toronto. The candidate in question was my lovely wife, Marilyn Churley, who by then had already had a distinguished political career as a member of provincial parliament in Ontario over a couple of decades and as a cabinet minister for a part of that stretch.

Marilyn decided it was time for a change, and although the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful for a number of reasons I won't bother to go into here, it was quite a ride.

The fundraiser was billed as a celebration of Marilyn's 20 years of public service. A number of Canadian celebrities were on the program, including politicians, journalists, musicians, and actors (such as Shirley Douglas, a famous Canadian actress who is the mother of actor Keifer Sutherland and the daughter of Tommy Douglas, the man considered to be the father of Canada's wildly popular government health-care system -- all information for any American who might be reading this).

A highlight of the evening was a few songs offered by celebrated singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer, who had done some important environmental work with Marilyn and was supporting her in the campaign. Unfortunately, the videographer was not able to patch into the soundboard, so the audio is from an open-air microphone. Still sounds pretty good.

I love Sarah Harmer's music. Beautiful voice, beautifully crafted songs.

At one point, the camera breaks away from the stage to take some audience shots. Marilyn is the one in the orange dress at about the 2:25 mark. As an added point of interest, a few moments later the camera is on Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (a left-wing social democratic party), which, if polls hold, might have an electoral breakthrough on May 2nd, the day of the upcoming federal vote. In this case a breakthrough would mean supplanting the Liberal Party of Canada as official opposition, still behind what is likely to be a continuing conservative government. Jack is the one in the dark jacket and white shirt at about the 7:30 mark. Again, all Canadians would know this, but Americans are, alas, less likely to follow the exciting world of politics north of their border.

Not that you were asking, but you won't see me in any of the shots because I was in the shadows stage managing, which is typically where I like to be.

Anyway, back to the music. Sarah did a great job, as always. Some of you will notice that the MC is Jian Ghomeshi, formerly of the singing group Moxy FrΓΌvous and more recently of CBC Radio's Q.

Here's Sarah on stage that night:

(Cross-posted at Music Across the 49th)

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