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100 Mile House invited to find their voice in Hillbilly Choir

Demian Pettman and the 100 Mile and District Arts Council are hosting a singing workshop in June
Jenny Lester will be running the Hillbilly Choir and Band Retreat & Harmony Workshop in 100 Mile House next month. (Demian Pettman photo)

Everyone has the ability to sing within them.

That’s something that Demian Pettman firmly believes. Over the last few years, the longtime 100 Mile House resident has found her own musical voice by organizing a regular singing group called We S!NG.

“For me, it’s something community-based then individual-based. I find (people making music together) is such a positive experience,” Pettman remarked. “Our singing group meets a couple of times a month to sing together. Although the Eclectica Community Choir is a wonderfully supportive and inclusive group of singers, not everyone is ready to sing in that way. The aim of We S!NG is that we can express ourselves musically by working together to learn easier songs.”

Since 2010 Pettman has hosted several variety shows which she said went over quite well and was a great way to showcase the town’s talents. It was through organizing these events she developed an interest in music they later culminated in her founding We S!NG. She explained the group gave her a place to develop her own voice and has become something the entire group really enjoys.

“Singing is something everyone can do, but many of us find it scary because of judgment,” Pettman remarked. “But singing is such an uplifting activity, especially in a group; everyone should have the chance to experience that kind of joy, especially in these crazy times.”

In recent months she and her group have discussed growing their skills and getting new people involved in music. That’s why Pettman has partnered with the 100 Mile and District Arts Council to bring Jenny Lester to town so she can run a Hillbilly Choir and Band Retreat & Harmony Workshop for the community June 23 and 24.

Pettman said she’s worked with Lester, a Canadian bluegrass singer-songwriter and a multi-instrument musician, in the past and noted she’s really good at teaching harmonies. Lester’s musical style will really appeal to South Cariboo musicians and singers, Pettman remarked.

“She’s going to spend a few days here. We wanted to do harmonies and instruments so we split them into two days and this is kind of an experiment. We want to see how many people are interested, how many people will come out to something like this,” Pettman explained.

“Hopefully it will be a success and once we make those connections we can continue and take what we learn from Jenny to keep singing and playing music together on our own.”

Tickets for this event are $50 for the Instruments and Voices Workshop scheduled for Sunday, June 23, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Creekside Seniors Centre followed by a potluck dinner and jam session at 5:30 p.m. On Monday Pettman said the 3-Part Harmony Workshop will take place between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by an open mic at 7:30 p.m. for $30 at Parkside Art Gallery. Alternatively, participants can pay $75 to attend both nights. Tickets can be bought by looking up 100 Mile Hillbilly Choir Band Retreat & Harmony Workshop on Eventbrite or by going to There is a $5 discount on all tickets before May 25.

Anyone with an interest in music, whether they have experience or not, is invited to attend the workshop, Pettman said. Not only is this a great way to learn how to sing but also a way to build connections within your local community.

“Singing is a human birthright. There’s a saying that if you can walk, you can dance, and if you can talk you can sing,” Pettman remarked. “We encourage everyone to join us.”

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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