Meet the judges for the 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge
This year's judges include an oboe player, a hip-hop artist, an opera singer and a guitar rocker
For our sixth straight year, CBC Music and MusiCounts are searching for greatness, fun and innovation in music classrooms and programs 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. We can't wait to see and hear what you come up with while maintaining the COVID safety guidelines within your province or territory.
After the final submission date of Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, our panel of celebrity judges takes over to pick the best performances in our different age categories. It's time for you to meet the judges!
Terra Lightfoot is a powerhouse singer-songwriter from Hamilton, Ont., an artist that Pop Matters called a "monster talent" who draws from rock, soul and blues to create an incredible sound all her own. Lightfoot, who is of no relation to Gordon, arrived on the international scene with the release of her excellent, hook-heavy 2014 album Every Time my Mind Runs Wild. In 2018, Lightfoot received her first Juno Award and Polaris Prize nomination for her album New Mistakes. This year, Lightfoot has roared back with another great new record called Consider the Speed. She is one of Canada's premier talents, the complete package, and we're thrilled to have her judge this year.
Learning about music was so important to me as a young person, I really couldn't get enough. My teachers' encouragement carried me through all the self-doubt and, of course, I'm glad I stuck with it!- Terra Lightfoot
Ron Cohen Mann
Named one of CBC Music's 30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30 for 2020, Ron Cohen Mann is an oboist and English hornist, a frequent recitalist, new music proponent, orchestral musician and teacher based in Toronto. His solo debut at Carnegie Hall was with harpist Noël Wan. As a winner of the Yale University Chamber Music Competition, he performed the monumental Prokofiev Quintet on the Oneppo Chamber Music Series. Cohen Mann was also a prize winner at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's Standard Life Competition, and the winner of the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition, as well as the Ben Steinberg Musical Legacy Award. We're honoured to have this talented and passionate artist as a judge this year.
Music saved my life. In high school, I was an outsider; an immigrant from the Middle East and a gay boy coming to terms with his own identity. The music department provided a safe space to find myself and connect with a community that values the transformative power of collective music-making.- Ron Cohen Mann
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 : he is 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
The top 10s will be announced on Dec. 8, while the winners of the 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge will be announced on Dec. 15. Good luck!