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Yukon youth receive awards to write music

Four Yukon youth will be receiving $675 each from the Inspire Song – North for 90 Award to help them write original music.

Lukas Wright, Jack Walcher-Wegmann, Taryn Morrison, and Phoebe Qui are the first-ever recipients of the award, which was established by local musician and songwriter Gordie Tentrees to honour the memory of Yukon musician Aylie Sparkes who passed away from cancer in 2005 at the age of 38.

Born Peter Thiessen in Steinbach, Manitoba, Sparkes arrived in the Yukon in 2001 with a truck full of guitars and $5 to his name. In the first year, he established a following by performing 250 shows, mainly at the Discovery Bar in the former Taku Hotel in Whitehorse, where people would queue down the street to get a seat.

Though influenced by Hendrix, Elmore James, Robert Johnson, and Duane Allman, Aylie’s slide guitar diversity was his strength, paired with his innate ability to draw the audience into his light, whether he was playing country, blues, gospel, or funk. He supported many local artists on stage and in recordings before releasing his debut record Beautiful & Deranged, which was nominated for Blues Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

Tentrees established the Inspire Song – North for 90 Award to help youth, aged 12 to 18, who are inspired to write original songs or music in any lyrical/musical format in any genre.

The awarded funds must be used as tuition or fees for lessons or mentorship with a Yukon songwriter or musician of their choosing.

“I am very grateful to all the writers that performed in concert bringing light to the power of song writing, and the support of the Bob Hamilton family, Casey Prescott, Michele Emslie as well as the Yukon Arts Centre with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Yukon Government in making this possible for Yukon youth,” said Tentrees.

The award recipients will be presented with their cheques at Tentrees’s Arts in the Park performance in LePage Park on July 30 at 12:30pm in Whitehorse.

Story submitted by Kelly Proudfoot/KPEP Management.

Photo of Gordie Tentrees by Mike Thomas