Q: How do you get an ex-American president to appear at a Vancouver fundraiser for inner city kids?
A: If you’re Sarah McLachlan, just ask.
McLachlan, who lives in Vancouver, was at a fundraiser for Bill Clinton eight months ago — one of many she’s done for him over the years — when he sat down with her to chat and ask what she was up to.
She told him about Voices in the Park, the concert she is headlining in Stanley Park this Saturday to benefit her Sarah McLachlan School of Music (SoM). The decade-old school just off Main Street, which she founded and funds largely out of her own pocket, provides free after-school music education to under-served and at risk children.
“I told him all about the school and all about the event, and he said ‘Well, you’ve been so wonderful and helpful to me all these years, is there anything I can do?’ McLachlan recounted on Tuesday.
“And so of course I immediately said, ‘Well, can you come to the event?’ And he looked at me and he thought for a moment and he said, ‘Yeah, I could do that.’”
The Grammy Award-winning songstress said the swaggering tenor sax player is expected to swoop into YVR with the secret service just long enough to deliver a speech about how much music meant to him growing up, and how it molded him.
She still doesn’t know at what time during the 4 to 11 p.m. concert schedule that will happen, since the secret service likes to keep these things, well, secret. But as soon as he’s done, she said, he will disappear on his jet from whence he came.
Clinton certainly isn’t the only huge name set to help the beloved multi-platinum-selling artist reach her goal of raising $1 million. She will be joined on stage by Vancouver native Bryan Adams, Stevie Nicks, Hedley, Jann Arden, Chin Injeti, The Boom Booms, Hey Ocean! and Whitehorse.
“These kinds of events, when you’re putting them together, you kind of pull out all the stops,” McLachlan explained of how she got everyone on board.
“I wrote a lot of letters, and I made phone calls and emailed people I knew, and predominantly the people who said yes were the people I knew and had a relationship with.”
Last year the SoM had 280 children registered in its after school programs, and this year she said more than 360 are taking guitar, piano, percussion, songwriting, production, and video classes, as well as participating in ensembles and two choirs.
“We’ve seen kids who were so shy coming into the program that they couldn’t even look at the teachers, and at the end of it they’re up there performing or they’re speaking publically about their experiences, and the sense of confidence and self-worth that the program is nurturing is really powerful,” she said.
General admission tickets to Voices in the Park are $85, and while some sections of reserved seating toward the front are sold out, others still have tickets available ranging from $110 to $185.
For info or tickets, visit voicesinthepark.com.