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*

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

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)
Winter blues a concern for Vancouver Islanders during COVID-19 Christmas season

Statistics show British Columbians anticipate worsening mental health

Jason Soukochoff is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, say Victoria police. (Courtesy VicPD)
Victoria police seek man with violent criminal history against elderly

Jason Soukochoff wanted on Canada-wide warrant for parole violations

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
UPDATED: VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

Salon owner Philip Ferreira with the PPE collection box at The Natural Hair Salon, 618 View St. (Mariah Johal photo)
Victoria salon inspires more mask recycling

Anyone welcome to drop disposable masks in bin outside View Street shop

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Most Read