Mi’kmaq Blackbird singer meets Paul McCartney

A high school student from an Eskasoni high school, who went viral for her Mi’kmaq rendition of Blackbird, met Sir Paul McCartney backstage at his Vancouver concert over the weekend.

Sixteen-year-old Emma Stevens and her music teacher were given a chance to speak one-on-one with the music legend, who was playing a show at BC Place Stadium.

McCartney also gave Stevens a shout out, where he praised her version of the classic hit.

“It’s a beautiful version,” McCartney told the crowd of fans. “I met her before the show. I said, ‘Listen, your version is so beautiful I’m going to be nervous singing my version.’”

The video, which was produced by Allison Bernard Memorial High School music teacher Carter Chiasson, shows Emma singing Blackbird in Mi’kmaq alongside her classmates.

The song itself was filmed and recorded for International Year of Indigenous Languages, a United Nations observance.

According to her teacher, whose brother Adam had “emailed the right person and said the right things,” was the person that earned the twosome an invitation.

Before long the duo had plane tickets booked, concert tickets arranged, and plans to meet Paul McCartney backstage before the show. They waited in a room with roughly 50 other people that were mostly family members of McCartney’s band, and were then taken into a room where they spent a few minutes talking privately with Paul McCartney.

The pair presented Paul with a Mi’kmaq medallion that was made by Cape Breton artist Vivian Googoo and gifted to them by Assembly of First Nations regional chief Morley Googoo. On it is the image of a blackbird.

The song is usually believed to be about a blackbird whose wings are broken, but it was more symbolically written with a deeper meaning. Before his acoustic guitar set during the same U.S., tour, McCartney explained that “bird” is British slang for a girl, making “blackbird” a synonym for “black girl”. The song was inspired by the racial tensions that exploded in the US on spring 1968 as a way to support the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Stevens version of the song has nearly one million views on YouTube.

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