By Jodi Brak
Rising from the memory of the 2014 Brentwood stabbings in Calgary, The Prophets of Music is an organization dedicated to the memory of Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell, two aspiring young musicians who died in the tragic event.
The organization seeks out promising musical talent in Alberta and supports their efforts through scholarships, mentorship and education in aspects of the music industry ranging from recording to financial management, entertainment law and public relations. The organization is funded through a combination of Alberta cultural industry grants, corporate sponsorships and fundraising initiatives, all coming together to provide nearly $30,000 worth of support for each of the artists selected.
Howard Redekopp, a well-respected Western Canadian music producer, known for his work with Canadian artists such as Mother Mother and Dear Rouge, is among the mentors working with artists in the program. “To have something like this, with the goal to empower young artists and help them get to the next level or help them get where they want to be, that’s really cool,” he says. “And that’s the cool thing about the Prophets of Music, it’s not about creating hit maker radio pop stars or folk music heroes or the new star, there’s no goal in that sense. It’s about finding artists who have merit and have a willingness to grow.”
Nearing the end of their first year, the artists working with the Prophets of Music will perform the music they have worked hard to create on April 29. High Love, The Ashley Hundred and Brett McCrady were the first three artists to receive the scholarship, and all three are set to unveil the fruits of their labour at the Prophets of Music artist showcase on April 29 at 8 p.m. hosted at The Palace Theatre on Stephen Avenue. Tickets are available online for a discounted rate, and can also be purchased at the doors of the event.
Formerly known as REND, the Edmonton alt-rock group felt that a renewed sense of their artistic goals warranted a name change and in March they unveiled their new title, High Love. “It is our passion and vision to create music that brings a voice to those who have had their voice taken away,” the group writes in a statement to their fans. “With everything going on in the world right now we have a chance to speak out and stand up for what we believe in.”
The group delivers high energy rock music laced with a dash of alt-pop elements to create a sound both dark and glamorous, visceral and soothing. They describe themselves as a dash of Muse, a layer of Phantogram, topped off with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Each member of the group has studied music in post-secondary and, in an interesting coincidence, each member has also spent time as a teacher of music, with vocalist Carol-Lynne Quinn just recently teaching her final vocal course at Grant Macewan University in Edmonton.
During the time spent in studio this past December, recording the album funded by the Prophets of Music, Quinn said, “we decided to really trust in the process and let the music guide us, there’s less fear than in the past.”
The Ashley Hundred
Self-described as psychedelic folk-pop, The Ashley Hundred is a band with a clear mission to set themselves apart. In a musical landscape where genre has become increasingly defined, The Ashley Hundred pull inspiration from across the musical map to create tunes that have listeners dancing one moment and contemplating the existential consequences of life in the modern world the next.
Their music blends the acoustic sounds associated with folk music, electronic and synthesized sounds which have become standard fare in pop and psychedelic music, and the energy and enthusiasm of a rock or punk group. This creates danceable music which sounds like it could be equally at home in a kitchen party or an underground rave.
Andrew Franks, vocalist and guitarist with the group, said in a Facebook post that, “the past several months working with the Prophets of Music has been incredibly inspiring and validating,” adding the group is eager to showcase the efforts they put in during their time in the studio this past January.
Originally hailing from British Columbia, Brett McCrady has spent the cold Alberta winter in Calgary working on songs which capture the free and easy feeling of a day spent soaking up rays on the beach. Playing in a style which might remind a listener of the music of Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson, McCrady maintains a level of positivity in much of his music that is a refreshing change of pace from the often-sad songs of other acoustically driven artists.
McCrady feels that it has been extremely rewarding to work with the Prophets of Music, saying “it’s more than just a grant. You get a grant and you say ‘okay, cool, now what do I do with this?’ but this gives you a team of people who are behind you, support that would be really hard to come by otherwise, people from so many different backgrounds that I would never have met otherwise.”
Aside from the opportunities offered for his own music, McCrady is also looking forward to becoming a mentor to future artists selected for the program. “What’s very cool about it as well is they are very focused on creating almost a family around this whole program,” McCrady said. “Once we are done in the program, we’ll have an ongoing relationship with the future acts that go through the program, kind of transitioning into a mentor role.”
Brett McCrady, High Love, the Ashley Hundred