The power of music, the message of a song

Amelia Curran, Roger Maunder and the Stella’s Circle Inclusion Choir team up on secret musical project

Published on March 8, 2017

Award-winning singer/songwriter Amelia Curran (right) rehearses with the Stella’s Circle Inclusion Choir Wednesday afternoon at Stella’s Circle on Cabot Street.

©Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The members of Stella’s Circle Inclusion Choir, Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter Amelia Curran and filmmaker Roger Maunder spent most of Wednesday together in a room downtown, putting the finishing touches on a powerful but secret project.

The specific details won’t be disclosed until next month, but the choir and Curran have written a song together, a song that fits with the choir’s philosophy and Curran’s values and the Canada 150 celebrations, the fund from which the group received a grant.

Curran, who is releasing her eighth album, “Watershed,” this week, is also a mental-health advocate. Through her organization It’s Mental, she and Maunder work to erase the stigma of mental illness. 

The non-audition Inclusion Choir is made up of about 35 Stella’s Circle participants, volunteers and staff who meet every week to enjoy the benefits of music as a form of community and healing. Celebrating a special anniversary itself — its 10th year — the choir includes singers who have overcome or are living with significant struggles, such as homelessness, mental-health issues or reintegrating in the community after a period of incarceration.

Over the years and under the direction of volunteer Helen Murphy since the very beginning, the choir has performed with Johnny Reid, sang at a reception for Olympian Clara Hughes and performed for Prince Charles during his visit to St. John’s in 2009, among numerous other events.

The members of the choir believe it’s a place of acceptance and say they feel empowered by sharing messages of social justice and inclusion.

The song they’ve written with Curran reflects that, says Lisa Browne, CEO of Stella’s Circle.

“This is a really exciting project for us, first to write the song with Amelia, but to share the message as well. The song is about making sure voices are heard, no matter where they come from in this great country.”

Browne said the choir members weren’t intimidated by Curran’s star status, and felt free to throw out ideas during the songwriting process.

“There was no shortage of ideas,” she said. “Everybody had an idea to contribute, and there were nice little debates about word choices, and what worked and what didn’t. Amelia was really very respectful and it was a great experience.”

Maunder has been filming the project from the start of the songwriting process, and had his camera on hand Wednesday as the group rehearsed and recorded their song. He’ll also capture their reactions when they hear the final product in the next couple of weeks.

Maunder will cut a music video from the footage, which will premiere when the song is revealed publicly for the first time, on April 11 at a concert at the LSPU Hall.

“Their hearts are just so full,” he said of the choir. “When they are singing, you can see the emotion on their face. It’s very freeing, in a lot of ways. It’s amazing.”

Twitter: @tara_bradbury