Gilbert Park Band with Keri Latimer (4th from left) (Terry MacLeod)
Local singer-songwriter Keri Latimer has been lending a helping hand -- and ear -- to a group of talented young girls. The Gilbert Park Band, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg, have been working with Latimer on a weekly basis to develop songwriting skills and learn how to play guitar.
"Everybody is so amazing and they all are intuitively talented," says Latimer. "They have so many ideas that there's definitely not a lack of what to write about, it's more how to place things together in a way that will be pleasing to listen to for other people."
Last year, after they performed at the 100-Mile Dinner fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club, a man was so impressed he approached them and gave them $500 cash to put towards a professional recording. Mike Petkau Falk agreed to bring them into his studio, Head in the Sand, and they now have a five-song demo.
Working with Latimer has been an incredible learning experience for the girls. "I can have the opportunity to play songs with my dad if I want to, now, and that's awesome to do," says Kelsey, one of the singers. "He inspires me to play guitar, they inspire me so I just keep going and I practice and I get better."
One aspect of songwriting that Latimer tries to emphasize is getting them to look deep inside themselves for inspiration. "Sometimes it feels like a counselling session because I do try to get everyone to think about what they're going through because that's how they're going to effect people," says Latimer.
Last year, Kelsey wrote a song about being bullied that deeply touched listeners. She says the process of writing the song made her feel differently about what was going on. "It really boosted up my confidence," she says.
This songwriting project grew out of the Winnipeg Folk Festival Mentoring Program that Latimer lead three years ago. It was so successful The Boys and Girls Club asked her to keep the program going, and she has now been working with the Gilbert Park Band ever since.
Hear the Gilbert Park Band and Keri Latimer on the Weekend Morning Show with Terry MacLeod on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Winnipeg Folk Festival Mentoring Program invests in musicians of the future