Canada 2017

O Canada! Watch these talented brothers sing a pitch-perfect anthem

Zacary, Seth and Marc James — who've won millions of hearts as the Melisizwe Brothers — hope for a future where everyone can harness their unique talents.

'It's a different feeling than just singing a pop song.'

Seth, Zacary and Marc James — who've won millions of hearts as the Melisizwe Brothers — hope for a future where everyone can harness their unique talents. (Donazan Collections )

Zacary James is only 10, but he already sings O Canada like a seasoned pro. It helps that he's had years of practice.

"That was my first song! I learned it when I was two years old," says the pint-sized frontman of The Melisizwe Brothers, a band of brothers based in Edmonton.

Zacary and his siblings  — Seth James, 11, and Marc James, 14 — wanted to do something special for Canada as the country marks 150 years since Confederation. Together they arranged their own version of the national anthem, which they performed and recorded at a local hockey rink this past winter. 

(The boys have also recorded a special Oilers edition of the anthem)

Onlookers happily let the brothers take centre ice the day they shot their video, even pausing their practice to watch the boys sing. 

"They said they'd never heard anyone sing O Canada like that," says Seth.

"They were clapping. They were really happy," adds Zacary, who packed extra power at the end of each lyric.

A special song

The boys are better known for covers of soulful oldies, including their viral cover of I'll Be There by the Jackson 5. Their talent has caught the attention of millions online.

They've not only been invited to perform all over Canada, but also abroad in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on The Ellen Show

Still, they all agree there's something special about home, and about singing O Canada. 

"It's a different feeling than just singing a pop song," says Marc. "We feel proud. We feel happy when we're doing it." 

When asked what they love about their country, the boys list everything from "lovely people" and "beautiful scenery" to high buildings and flat lands. They love the bustle of big cities but also the greenery of wilder areas. 

The brothers wrote an original song about Saint Vincent, the southern Caribbean island where their family has roots, and plan to one day write a tune about Canada. 

"It would be about all the beautiful people, and all places that you can go," says Zacary.  

The Alberta brothers have been to Ontario, B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but hope to keep getting to know the whole country — especially Quebec! (Donazan Collections)

Leaders of the future

The James brothers chose Melisizwe, a name with South African roots, because it means leaders of the future. They have big dreams for themselves (like performing with Celine Dion) and for their country, too.

The boys hope for a future where everyone can discover and make use of their unique talents.

If they could do anything, says Seth, "we would travel around Canada to perform and tell people that everybody has a gift inside of them."

"Yes, everyone has a gift," agrees Marc. "They can use that gift to have an impact on the world. And if our world can use their gift, we can change anything. We can become anything." 

About the Author

Fabiola Melendez Carletti is a journalist and digital storyteller. As a producer with CBC Podcasts, she can usually be found with earbuds in and a smile on.


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