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Music workshop takes Folk stage
Musician Justin Nozuka crafts song with SideDoor youth, invites them to join his festival performance

NNSL photograph

SideDoor Youth Ministries youth pose for a photo during a songwriting workshop held by Folk on the Rocks performer Justin Nozuka on July 13. In the front row is singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka, left, Jada Nulliayuk, Iris Hamlyn, Tiffany Thrasher, Traci Mercer-Sproule, Nomazulu Khumalo, Amanda Price, Brendan Gully, Royce Courtereille, Joe Elatiakand and Giselle Hausman. In the back row are Kyle Kuktimiak, left, Brian Jasper and Brittney Bessett. - photo courtesy of Ice Wireless

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Young people from SideDoor Youth Ministries had the opportunity to sing a song with Toronto musician Justin Nozuka on stage at Folk on the Rocks this year.

As part of an Ice Wireless sponsored event, Nozuka taught the youth how to write and perform a song during a workshop on July 13.

During Folk on the Rocks, they got up on stage and performed what they had written as part of Nozuka's set.

The singer-songwriter described how he approached the workshop to Yellowknifer.

"I played Lean On Me by Bill Withers through my boom box and we sang along with Bill three times through," he said. "I then asked everyone to give me a word. Any word that came to their mind."

At first, the youth were quite shy, he said, but quickly lost themselves in the activity.

"I wrote down a word or a made up word from everyone on paper, things like 'coffee bean,' 'parallelism,' 'chicken' and 'bacon,'" he said.

From there, Nozuka said he made up a chord progression. Together, they began to sing out a melody for the chorus with the rule that every word they came up with had to be in the song.

On July 16 during Nozuka's set, the group performed the song onstage.

"I knew it would be more meaningful for us all if we were able to get up together at Folk," he said.

Only some of the youth participated, with others opting out due to stage fright.

"Those who came up had a really great time and the song played beautifully," he said. "It was a highlight of the set and trip for me, and I believe for them as well."

The experience, he said, was moving.

"It's so clear they have been through and are going through some really tough (stuff)," he said. "I know ... music can be a healing power for them and I hope it plays that part throughout their lives."

SideDoor executive director Iris Hamlyn called the workshop a positive experience and a great opportunity for the staff and youth to work together.

"It was a big deal for some of the youth," she said. "Some of them took it very seriously."

Nozuka added he is hoping to get the workshop tune recorded and invite the youth to participate in the recording.

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