Langley singer-songwriters Gord Maxwell and Laurie Thain both have deep Canadian roots, and the pair has joined up to create a song they believe shouts out about the country’s diversity, compassion, moral integrity, decency and unwaivering pride.
I Am Canadian arrived “smoothly and naturally” in the course of writing in the studio one day, explained Thain.
Thain burst onto the music scene by winning the first CBC National Search for Stars. She went on to write and record four albums of original songs, and just last year was inducted into the BC Country Music Hall of Fame.
“In the fall of 2015, we were working on a simple ESL song for a client, a song for children to practise talking about nationality and telling about where they were from,” she said.
“The federal election campaign was still fresh in our minds. You may recall that during that campaign there was a lot of heated, divisive talk about what it meant to be Canadian. Some politicians were differentiating between old-stock Canadians versus new-stock Canadians.”
The pair reject any notion that there are categories of Canadians, instead supporting the opinion that “A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.”
For more than 30 years, both Thain and Maxwell wrote and produced music, while pursuing independent music careers. Then, more recently, they’ve been working as partners in Pure Pacific Music for Young Learners. But they’re calling this musical collaboration the first of many such efforts under the banner of Maxwell & Thain.
“While writing, we started talking about and thinking more deeply about what it meant to be Canadian and that elusive quality that the world recognizes as the Canadian persona,” Thain elaborated.
“We wanted to write the ultimate song, one that captured the essence of being Canadian.”
So, in spring of 2016, they were finishing the track in the studio, when they started hearing about Canada 150 and the national celebrations planned leading up to and including this weekend’s July 1 festivities.
“Perfect!” she said. “We had exactly what we needed to join in the celebration. To strengthen our message we decided to create a video.”
Melding in a lot of family photos to help round out their story on the video, they officially released I Am Canadian on YouTube at the end of April, and Maxwell and Thain say that as singer-songwriters they wanted to give voice to that quietly proud feeling of being Canadian.
“We’re touched by the deeply emotional response people have to the song,” said Maxwell, who has toured with Ian Tyson’s concert trio as a bassist and harmony singer for the past 20 years. He’s also one of the Gords in a country pop group called The Gords, and is the bassist and a vocalist in the rock band, Chilliwack.