Calgary

Arkells surprise Calgary students who won award with cover of band's song

Students at the Calgary Arts Academy thought they were repeating an award-winning performance at a school assembly on Wednesday, but ended up being joined mid-song by some special guests.

'I admired their professionalism because they held it together when we walked in,' said Anthony Carone

The Arkells joined students at the Calgary Arts Academy for a surprise performance Wednesday. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Students at the Calgary Arts Academy thought they were repeating an award-winning performance at a school assembly on Wednesday, but ended up being joined mid-song by some special guests.

The students had won the 2018 MusiCounts Passion Prize with their performance of the Arkells' hit People's Champ.

Each fall, music education charity MusiCounts along with CBC Music host The Canadian Music Class Challenge, with a $5,000 grant for instruments going to the class that showed the most passion.

The students had no idea the Juno-nominated Arkells would be singing along with them, and awarding them their prize.

"When we walk on stage we generally have an idea of how people are going to react, but we've never walked into a gym full of 200 kids that are singing your own song. That sensation was entirely new. So I was like, 'How is this going to go?'" said singer Max Kerman. 

"But then their faces began to light up when they recognized us and that was really cool." 

There were grins, tears, and some whispers, but the kids didn't miss a beat when the band strolled in and joined the performance.

"I admired their professionalism because they held it together when we walked in," said keyboard player Anthony Carone.

But despite their cool demeanour, the students were pretty star-struck. 

"Having them here was a surprise and it was wonderful," said 14-year-old Kenzie Regal, who played piano during the performance. "Having them here made our confidence and our spirits lift."

The experience was a treat for the band, too.

"Kids have so much joy and energy it's really contagious," said bassist Nick Dika.

Students were abuzz with excitement when the Arkells joined their performance, but didn't miss a beat. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

MusicCounts has awarded more than $11 million to schools in Canada to support music education.

Music teacher Garrett Thorson said the special appearance was a great way to recognize the kids' hard work, and the instruments will make a big difference too.

"We have so many different ways kids can experiment with music … having these new instruments come in and give us even more avenues for kids to get excited about music is really awesome," he said.

The Arkells play the Saddledome in Calgary on Saturday.

Watch the students' winning entry below: 

With files from Anis Heydari

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.