Student’s singing passion leads to CD recording opportunity
A group effort, and touch of destiny, makes ‘fantastic’ chance possible for Paige Barrie
Friday August 3, 2012 -- Michelle Strutzenberger
When Paige Barrie sings in her music class, the 16-year-old shows such extreme confidence and does such amazing things with her voice that many of her peers are taken aback.
“It makes them step up their game because they’re like, ‘Wow, look what Paige can do; we have to try and be as good as she is,’ ” says the Smiths Falls resident’s music teacher Kristine MacLaren of the Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute.
That’s in the music class Paige audits — she doesn’t get a credit for it but has been attending as the most enthusiastic participant for three years, according to MacLaren.
Paige has inspired other listeners in a similar way, including when she performed with the high school’s Glee Club as it toured the local elementary schools.
But while she’s having such an impact, this obviously isn’t Paige’s main intention. She just loves to sing; that passion just shines through pure and clear.
“It’s really refreshing to see somebody who just sings because she likes to sing and not because she has to be the best at it,” says MacLaren.
This past year Paige had a chance to record a song, thanks to the efforts of a group of people, and a small touch of destiny.
Paige’s family had contacted the Passport Mentoring initiative, which involves students who have an intellectual disability, in investigating ideas for their future, by working with mentors who share the same interest or hold the role that the student wishes to explore.
Passport Mentoring co-ordinator Barbara Woods met with the family and learned that if there was anything Paige would like to explore, it was singing and music.
After co-ordinating a plan to connect Paige to people who would share her passion and interest in music, Woods found a way for her to record a song, which had been indicated as a dream of hers.
Many different people were part of making this possible.
MacLaren spent about three months working with Paige during her prep time to practice.
The Smiths Falls high school system designated staff also pitched in, particularly Shawna Davidson, who helped co-ordinate the activities.
“No obstacle was too big to overcome to make (Paige’s) success happen,” says Davidson.
Paige’s elementary school music teacher Dave Balfour of Chimo Elementary first triggered an additional performance opportunity for Paige, which he says had a hint of destiny in it.
Learning from Paige on one of her occasional drop-bys to his classroom — though she’s been in high school three years, she has fond memories of that music class and likes to visit every once in a while — Balfour learned Paige’s vocal class would be performing “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele with Paige as lead.
By total fluke Balfour was teaching several members of his vocal group the very same song in the very same key — and so he jumped on what he saw as a great opportunity to bring the high school and elementary vocal groups together. Paige would sing lead while the elementary students provided back-up.
It was that very same song Paige ended up recording, Balfour in the background giving music support.
Dave Kravacek is the owner of a Perth-based recording studio Christian Music Records. A contact of Woods’, he volunteered to record the song at no cost.
He says he was impressed not only by Paige’s talent but also the obstacles she’s obviously overcome with her disabilities.
“She’s got an amazing voice and she did awesome; she really belted it out, I couldn’t believe it,” he says.
Balfour recalls Paige literally shaking when she walked into the music recording studio, a sense of the significance of the moment obviously affecting her.
“It was such a big high for her; we had to get her to settle down a little bit and that was fantastic.
“Those moments don’t happen unless people all work together,” says Balfour.
Woods says this latter point is the critical part of the whole story.
“All these people came together to make this happen for her; it was a real community effort,” she says.
And it looks like that community effort will continue: a woman who heard Paige sing in a recent open stage event invited her to participate in a competition, MacLaren says her dream is to see her go much further afield and perform in many other venues and Balfour has invited her to an open jam session he’s been part of for years.
As for Paige, when asked what it is about singing and music that draws her, her words are few.
“Good,” she replies when asked how she feels as she performs.
Given what her passion has sparked for herself and others, there would be a lot of unspoken meaning in that word.
Feel free to comment by e-mailing michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.