A Cape Breton teenager said she was almost moved to tears when she learned her Mi’kmaq rendition of The Beatles’ classic song “Blackbird” had earned her a shoutout from none other than Paul McCartney. Emma Stevens is pictured in an undated publicity handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Carter Chiasson, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

‘I wanted to cry:’ Canadian teen thrilled with McCartney shoutout

As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 540,000 times

A Cape Breton teenager said she was almost moved to tears when she learned her Mi’kmaq rendition of The Beatles’ classic song “Blackbird” had earned her a shoutout from none other than Paul McCartney.

Emma Stevens said she and her music teacher, Carter Chiasson, first heard McCartney had singled her out for praise through comments on YouTube. They didn’t believe it until they saw video of the comments.

“I wanted to cry,” she said.

The McCartney moment was surreal for the 10th grader, who said she learned to love The Beatles thanks to her father, whom she described as a “superfan.”

“I grew up on that stuff,” she said. “He used to play The Beatles all the time when I was a kid.”

In concert footage published Sunday on Twitter by the United Nations’ human settlements and youth branch, McCartney praises Stevens’ recording and encourages his fans to look it up online.

“There’s an incredible version a Canadian girl has done, you can see it on YouTube. It’s in her native language,” McCartney told fans in Lexington, Ky.

“It’s really cool. Check it out,” he said a moment later.

Stevens and her classmates at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, N.S., recorded the song to highlight the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages, which seeks to raise awareness of threats to Indigenous languages across the world.

Chiasson produced the video, and the lyrics were translated into Mi’kmaq by another community member, Katani Julian.

Chiasson said “Blackbird” was chosen partly because of its melody, but also because of what he describes as its “hidden social message.”

“Paul actually wrote it in response to racism he witnessed towards black women when he was younger, so there are some parallels with that and what First Nations people, especially young female First Nations people, are experiencing in Canada today,” he said in a phone interview.

As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 540,000 times since it was uploaded to YouTube on April 25.

Stevens’ performance earned her worldwide attention, including a trip to a UN-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, where she performed last week and delivered a short speech that highlighted the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.

At 16, Stevens is already a seasoned performer who has been singing publicly in public since the age of 10.

She said that while all the attention makes her a bit “anxious,” she’s also excited to share her native language, and hopefully inspire young Indigenous people to reconnect with it.

“There are some kids who speak it in our community, but not a lot,” she said. ”They’re starting to speak English more because none of their friends understand it, and I kind of want to change that.”

In the future, she said she’s like to record an album. She’s also working on a new original song about missing and murdered Indigenous women, which she and Chiasson are hoping to release in July.

McCartney is the writer and original performer of ”Blackbird,” which first appeared on The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 album, known as the White Album. The 76-year-old did not publicly respond to a tweet from UN-Habitat Youth proposing a duet with Stevens when his current tour comes to Vancouver on July 6.

Stevens, however, is more than willing.

“Yeah, hit me up!” she said, when asked about the possibility of a duet with the famous ex-Beatle.

READ ALSO: Paul McCartney to make Vancouver stop on Freshen Up tour

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New Aiyansh stun Hydaburg to claim first ever All Native Masters Division title

Buzzer beating three pointer by Rich Wolff caps wild comeback; Justin Adams chosen as MVP

CMTN’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art holds annual exhibit

Artwork will be showcased until Feb. 29 at the Terrace Art Gallery

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Caledonia’s senior girls’ basketball team heads to provincials

Kermodes will be competing in Langley, B.C.

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read