Lindsey White is a firm believer in the transformative power of music.
"I’ve always loved making music," said White, an East Kildonan resident who attended Windsor Park Collegiate in her youth. "It’s a part of who I am."
It was in high school that White decided to pursue a life in music. A talented singer and guitar player with a number of full length records, EPs, and singles to her credit, White’s musical path over the past decade has led her to work with a number of community outreach groups.
"It’s become clear to me that that is also a part of who I am and what I do," White said.
Over the past two years, with the support of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s WITH ART public art program, White wrote and recorded a collection of songs with participants of Gaining Resources Our Way Inc. (GROW), a group that works with young adults with social and intellectual disabilities. Years earlier, White had done a similar project with Peaceful Village, a group supporting newcomer youth and their families.White and the group of a dozen budding musicians spent six months getting to know each other and developing their project.
"That’s a really cool and challenging aspect, that you have to go into it with no preconceived notions of what (the project) should be," White said. "You have to come in with a blank slate and say, ‘Let’s do this together.’"
With White’s guidance, the group wrote four original numbers: Elevator to Nowhere, Gravity, To Begin Again, and the instrumental Atmosphere.
"Elevator to Nowhere was our fun song, which came about naturally with some ukulele and lots of fun, silly rhyming," White said. "I feel like that’s where the group felt they really shone, as far as being creative. They gave themselves permission to be as wacky as they wanted to be, which I think was really valuable."
For White, encouraging the participants to discover their musical potential was inspiring.
"Some of them were great musicians, and some knew that and some did not," she said. "I thought that was really cool, particularly for someone who has had a lot of challenges and has been told a lot what they cannot do. It was like, ‘Look at what you can!’"
The four songs, plus a reprise of To Begin Again featuring White alone on the piano, were recorded by engineer Len Milne. The studio experience was another first for the GROW group.
"There’s so much you can’t prepare for, which is cool," White said of the recording process. "That was also a unique challenge, for this group to learn to roll with the bumps in the road. It was intimidating, but after they did it, it really empowered them to go through with last week’s performance."
On June 19, GROW with Lindsey White released Where to Grow From Here with a performance at the Berney Theatre (123 Doncaster St.).
"I love the positive pressure, it’s very empowering and confidence boosting," White said of the performance.
White said if the opportunity to engage in another public art project came her way, she would take it "in a heartbeat."
"This program changes lives," she said. "It’s about building the willingness to push beyond your own personal boundaries, to try something new and express yourself not only with artistic pursuits, but with your life."
Where to Grow From Here is available for free online at www.reverbnation.com/growwithlindseywhite
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112