A Cape Breton teenager said she was almost moved to tears when she learned her Mi’kmaq rendition of The Beatles’ classic song “Blackbird” had earned her a shoutout from none other than Paul McCartney. Emma Stevens is pictured in an undated publicity handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Carter Chiasson, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

‘I wanted to cry:’ Canadian teen thrilled with McCartney shoutout

As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 540,000 times

A Cape Breton teenager said she was almost moved to tears when she learned her Mi’kmaq rendition of The Beatles’ classic song “Blackbird” had earned her a shoutout from none other than Paul McCartney.

Emma Stevens said she and her music teacher, Carter Chiasson, first heard McCartney had singled her out for praise through comments on YouTube. They didn’t believe it until they saw video of the comments.

“I wanted to cry,” she said.

The McCartney moment was surreal for the 10th grader, who said she learned to love The Beatles thanks to her father, whom she described as a “superfan.”

“I grew up on that stuff,” she said. “He used to play The Beatles all the time when I was a kid.”

In concert footage published Sunday on Twitter by the United Nations’ human settlements and youth branch, McCartney praises Stevens’ recording and encourages his fans to look it up online.

“There’s an incredible version a Canadian girl has done, you can see it on YouTube. It’s in her native language,” McCartney told fans in Lexington, Ky.

“It’s really cool. Check it out,” he said a moment later.

Stevens and her classmates at Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni, N.S., recorded the song to highlight the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages, which seeks to raise awareness of threats to Indigenous languages across the world.

Chiasson produced the video, and the lyrics were translated into Mi’kmaq by another community member, Katani Julian.

Chiasson said “Blackbird” was chosen partly because of its melody, but also because of what he describes as its “hidden social message.”

“Paul actually wrote it in response to racism he witnessed towards black women when he was younger, so there are some parallels with that and what First Nations people, especially young female First Nations people, are experiencing in Canada today,” he said in a phone interview.

As of Tuesday evening, the video had been viewed more than 540,000 times since it was uploaded to YouTube on April 25.

Stevens’ performance earned her worldwide attention, including a trip to a UN-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, where she performed last week and delivered a short speech that highlighted the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.

At 16, Stevens is already a seasoned performer who has been singing publicly in public since the age of 10.

She said that while all the attention makes her a bit “anxious,” she’s also excited to share her native language, and hopefully inspire young Indigenous people to reconnect with it.

“There are some kids who speak it in our community, but not a lot,” she said. ”They’re starting to speak English more because none of their friends understand it, and I kind of want to change that.”

In the future, she said she’s like to record an album. She’s also working on a new original song about missing and murdered Indigenous women, which she and Chiasson are hoping to release in July.

McCartney is the writer and original performer of ”Blackbird,” which first appeared on The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 album, known as the White Album. The 76-year-old did not publicly respond to a tweet from UN-Habitat Youth proposing a duet with Stevens when his current tour comes to Vancouver on July 6.

Stevens, however, is more than willing.

“Yeah, hit me up!” she said, when asked about the possibility of a duet with the famous ex-Beatle.

READ ALSO: Paul McCartney to make Vancouver stop on Freshen Up tour

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From the court to coaching: Kody Worden

‘Basketball has brought me a lot of joy and I hope it does the same for the students I coach’

Williams Lake City Council and community advocacy leads to GPS monitoring of six prolific offenders

Counc. Scott Nelson said he is happy at this result and hopes to build on momentum

Off-duty Burnaby officer helps apprehend Cache Creek car thief fleeing towards Clinton

‘This is just one example of how we are always ready to respond to emergencies’

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan resolute in support of northern B.C. pipeline

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Most Read