Musicians team up for Newtown benefit album


"We have to do something."

That's what was going through the mind of Jean Guy Roy, frontman of Winnipeg indie rock outfit Federal Lights, as he watched the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre unfold. As a dad to three young kids — one of whom is in kindergarten — the terrifying news out of Newtown, Conneticut, hit him particularly hard.

"I was absolutely horrified," Roy says. "I immediately thought, 'we have to do something.' These are human beings and those were their children. At the very least, I wanted to show them that they're on our minds."

And so, 26 local acts — including Ash Koley, Imaginary Cities, Fred Penner, Keri Latimer, Les Jupes and more — are rallying together and contributing a song each (one in honour of every shooting victim) to a digital benefit compilation set up through Bandcamp.

All proceeds will go to the Ana Márquez-Greene Music Scholarship Fund at Western Connecticut State University. Ana was the six-year-old daughter of former Winnipeg jazz musician Jimmy Greene and one of the 20 children who lost their lives in the horrific attack.

"(Ana's) scholarship is something that immediately caught all of us," Roy says. "There is the obvious Winnipeg connection which instantly grabbed us but also the fact that this is a musician-driven project and her fund being a music program scholarship, it just seemed like a natural fit."

The Bandcamp page will go up on Friday, December 21. Songs will be available for $1 each, or $12 for the whole digital album.

Roy says he's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from his fellow musicians.

"I sent out a few Facebook message to various friends and musicians and it absolutely snowballed," he says.

"The emails haven't stopped coming in. I'm in complete awe of this city's community of musicians — you call and they answer. Some of these bands and artists are tied to labels and publishing companies and usually it would be a whole lot of red tape to get permission but the labels really stepped up to the plate as well, giving their full support.

"I think everyone realizes the extent of this horrific act and we're all tired of seeing it happen over and over again and will do everything and anything in our powers to see it stop."

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