My name is Courtney Johnson and I am the creator/musical director of the Ucluelet/Tofino Glee Program. (Created in 2012).
Like many in the arts, our program was shut down in 2020. We miss it every day.
One evening during the lockdown in 2020, I was making dinner and wondering what sort of future a pandemic world would bring.
The TV was on in and I was suddenly caught off guard by the most beautiful singing. I found myself gravitating towards the TV, mixing spoon still in hand, teary from the message of the song. The song was called “Only Love” and it was being sung by Katy Perry and Darius Rucker.
All I could think to myself was: I have to do that! I have to teach it….the kids I teach have to send this message!
At the time, there were no music classes allowed, but I never forgot the idea. So, the following spring, I sprung into action!
I applied for a CBT Small Neighborhood Grant, put the word out to my students and advertised locally about the project. I contacted my fellow instructor and choreographer Sarah Hogan, videographer Geoff Johnson, and recording engineer David Brown.
Restrictions were eased then so we had minimal challenges. We provided hand sanitizer and masks (masks were not required, but some were more comfortable with them in indoor spaces). Since it was summer, most of our filming and rehearsals took place outside. The indoor studio space that you see in the video is a converted garage, so we were able to open the large doors for ventilation.
Everyone was excited to be involved and before I knew it, we made a music video! The song played on our local radio, YouTube channel(Ukeetube), and social media platforms. Even our local paper did a story. Our video has also inspired new music projects. would definitely consider that a success!
The message of the song is: if you knew you only had a day left to live, what would you do with it? Well, you would connect with those you love the most and let go of all the negativity in your heart, wouldn’t you?
There is much heaviness in the world right now and I wanted to share that hopeful message. SO did the kids! Our children are growing up in a particularly historical time, and it was important for THEM to tell THEIR AUDIENCE that love really is the answer.
**I must also add that there is one adult in the video. You see him picking up a little girl and hugging her.
The man’s name is Dustin Riley and the little girl is his daughter Carmindy. She is singing the lines: “if I had one day left to live, I’d pour my heart and soul into a letter and send it to my dad.”
Dustin passed away shortly after this video was filmed. He was a good friend and is very missed. The scene in the video and the real life tragedy that follows emphasizes the message of love.