Meet the judges for the 2019 Canadian Music Class Challenge
This year's judges include a flutist, hip-hop artist, pop star, opera singer and folk duo
For our fifth straight year, CBC Music and MusiCounts are searching for greatness, fun and innovation in music classrooms across the country.
From elementary to high school, the Canadian Music Class Challenge wants to showcase your take on one of these great Canadian songs from our list for this year. Whether your music program is traditional, classical, vocal, instrumental, hip hop, rock 'n' roll or somewhere in between, we can't wait to see and hear what you come up with.
After the final submission date of Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, our panel of celebrity judges takes over to pick the best performances in our different age categories. And today, it's time for you to meet the judges!
Ria Mae is a Halifax-born songwriter who has always done things her way. To fund her debut album and her platinum-selling breakthrough single "Clothes Off," she worked various part-time jobs to make it work, then knocked on a lot of doors to get her song heard — and it worked. Mae's self-titled debut album came out in 2016, featuring "Clothes Off," as well as the gold-selling single "Ooh Love." The critically acclaimed album garnered multiple award nominations, including single of the year at the 2016 Juno Awards and best new Canadian artist at the iHeart Radio MMVAs. She has since followed that up with a string of hit singles. Mae recently released her highly anticipated Stars EP and new single, "Too Close." She hits the road with her Stars tour beginning Nov. 14 in Vancouver.
I found music to be my only creative outlet during my school days. It was invaluable for me.- Ria Mae
Named one of CBC Music's 30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30 by CBC Music, flutist Lara Deutsch from Ottawa is a versatile soloist, orchestral, and chamber musician with a passion for connecting with audiences. She was recently named the winner of the 2019 $125,000 Prix Goyer, Canada's largest music prize. Obviously a strong competitor and an incredible musician, Deutsch was also the first-prize winner of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's 2014 Manulife Competition. Additionally, she was the grand prize winner of both the National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary Competition (2014) and the Canadian Music Competition (2010), as well as a laureate of the Concours Prix d'Europe (2016). Deutsch is currently based in the Ottawa-Montreal area, where she performs regularly with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra.
I'm so thankful to have had music education in my life from a very young age. Not only has music taught me to be dedicated, to persevere and to work smart, it is also a powerful means of self-expression.- Lara Deutsch
Twin Flames is an Ottawa-based band led by husband and wife Jaaji and Chelsey June, who blend First Nations and Inuit music with folk-rock. Earlier this year, Twin Flames received a distinct international honour: they were selected to write, record and perform the official UNESCO anthem for 2019. It's the International Year of Indigenous Languages, declared by the United Nations in an effort to raise awareness to the rapid decline of Indigenous languages around the world. That anthem became "Human," one of the most popular songs in the 2019 Canadian Music Class Challenge. Jaaji and Chelsey June will be judging the best performances of this song for an Indigenous Languages Prize of $1,000 in new musical instruments.
Practice is so important. As musicians we practise all the time! Repetition is key especially when learning to pronounce new words. Listen to the song and write out the words the way you hear them and it will help you retain them.- Twin Flames
Odario Williams is a Guyanese-born entertainer, raised in Winnipeg. Today Williams resides in Toronto and is the lead vocalist for the award-winning hip-hop collective Grand Analog. As an entertainer, Williams wears many hats, describing himself mainly as a storyteller. Aside from being an actor, songwriter, producer, teacher, journalist and poet, Williams is no stranger to the CBC airwaves as a broadcaster: he is currently the host of Afterdark on CBC Music.
Music has always been my form of therapy. Being creative kept me grounded when life would get the best of me. I'm grateful to have found music in my life ... or I should say, have music find me.- Odario Williams
Whether regaling us with stories as host of Tempo on CBC Music or completely enthralling us with her beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, Julie Nesrallah has earned her spot among Canada's arts and entertainment elite.
In 2014, Nesrallah was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for her cultural contributions to Canada. She has sung on stages all over the world, even performing "God Save the Queen" for Prince William and Kate Middleton. Nesrallah has also performed her solo recording, Impressions de France, at New York's illustrious Carnegie Hall. Her musical tastes span as far and wide as her vocal range, and she can't wait to hear the variety of arrangements that come from Canada's music programs.
Sylvia Darwood was my public school music teacher and she didn't just change my life, she proactively set me up for a life in music. Years later, when I was offered my first professional opera contract, I phoned Mrs. Darwood and thanked her from the bottom of my heart.- Julie Nesrallah