Epic music moments that brought Canadians together

Singing together is a bonding experience — and it makes you feel good too!

Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, science says you should still pipe up when people around you start singing. It’s not just for fun—the more you sing with others, the faster you bond with them, and the happier you feel. (So, chances are, even if you sound like nails on a chalkboard, your fellow crooners will be in too good of a mood to care!)

LIVELab in Hamilton, featured in I got Rhythm: The Science of Song is dedicated to studying just why that is. The lab is a research-based performance space where scientists study “music, sound, and movement and their importance in human development and human health.” Researchers there are fascinated by the community experience of music and how it relates to commonly seen behaviours the world over.

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Music brings people together, research at LiveLab in Hamilton

Groups like Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! can attest to the surge in popularity in the feel-good activity. The collective went from a once to twice-weekly drop in event and the organizers “have seen their numbers swell” in the past few years. Though they started small, some 1,500 people showed up to sing “Hallelujah” with Rufus Wainwright during Toronto’s Luminato Festival, and the group has performed with Patti Smith at the Art Gallery of Ontario and with Tegan and Sara at the Juno Awards.

Whether you’re a gifted soprano, or someone who’d rather just hum a few bars, here are some very Canadian moments where the urge to sing took over, then brought people together. And maybe next time you hear a group gearing up to carol or chant, you’ll join in the chorus, too.

The Tragically Hip Concert

Few moments were more emotional on a national scale than the Tragically Hip’s final concert in the summer of 2016 following singer Gord Downie’s diagnosis with terminal brain cancer. Broadcast live by CBC to over 11-million people, the concert allowed almost a third of the country to share in a cathartic musical goodbye with one of Canada’s most beloved groups. Those who couldn’t be in Kingston, where the show took place, gathered all over the country to experience, and sing along, in the company of others. 

Canadians Sing Star Spangled Banner at Leaf’s Game

Sure, we’re a patriotic bunch, but Canadians are always willing to pitch in when our neighbour needs a hand. To wit, when the speaker system cut out in the middle of the “Star Spangled Banner” during a 2014 Toronto Maple Leaf’s game, Canucks chimed in and finished the job together. The home crowd of the Nashville Predators later returned the favour by singing “O Canada”—no microphone malfunction needed.

Commander Chris Hadfield Leads a Singalong From Space

Singing around a campfire is certainly a nice way to spend an evening, but leading an international singalong from the International Space Station takes it to a whole other level. Canadian astronaut and moustache enthusiast Chris Hadfield led students and participating musicians from around the world in a rendition of his original tune “ISS—Is Somebody Singing?” while hanging in zero-gravity. The out-of-this-world event was in honour of Music Monday, which promotes the benefits of music education for students.

Tears are Not Enough

In the grand tradition of charity singles like “We Are the World,” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” a Canadian supergroup banded together to record “Tears Are Not Enough” to raise awareness of the Ethiopian famine. The 1985 single featured artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Guess Who, Anne Murray and Bryan Adams, who co-wrote the tune. While the charity song trend eventually died down (even being parodied on 30 Rock) this particular endeavour resulted in a 90-minute documentary and $3.2 million in donations for relief projects in Africa. 

Available on CBC Gem

I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song

Nature of Things