Taylor Mitchell Bursary benefits youth
Emily Mitchell is the mother of promising young folk singer Taylor Mitchell, who died tragically in October 2009. Emily initiated the OCFF’s Taylor Mitchell Bursary, which each year sponsors one participant in the conference’s Youth Performer mentorship program.
In 2010 the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals’ Taylor Mitchell Bursary was created. It was done with some of the money which was so generously donated from the memorial fund set up in Taylor’s name after she was killed.
The Young Performers Program is a great program and I know that Taylor would be very happy that I used the money to create the bursary. She loved being part of the Youth Mentorship Program in 2007, when she was mentored by Lynn Miles. It was a match made in heaven and she and Lynn became friends and collaborated on several songs for her debut CD.
Taylor found her music family with the OCFF and she often said that she didn’t go there to make contacts but to make friends because those friendships would stay with you for your life — and through those friendships contacts would be made.
In 2010 the bursary was awarded to Maria Tullio, a young musician from Port Hope. Maria had first turned down the opportunity to apply because she couldn’t afford it. She was persuaded after hearing about the bursary. She told me how truly grateful she was to have the chance to experience the conference and how happy the experience had made her.
This year, the bursary was awarded to Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon, a young musician from Pic River, a small town on Lake Superior. When translated from Ojibwe to English, her name means “Bird Woman” — very fitting. Binaeshee-Quae was mentored by Katherine Wheatley. I am so happy that Binaeshee won the bursary. She is just the kind of person I thought of when I created the bursary. She is a passionate musician who has music in her blood but she wouldn’t have been able to come to the conference if she hadn’t been awarded the bursary. She told me that she wasn’t just thankful to have won the bursary but also felt honoured. She cried when she thanked me, because she was so happy.
The bursary makes me proud because I know that Taylor would be very proud and honoured to know she was helping young musicians that wouldn’t even think of applying for the youth program because they couldn’t afford it. She would have loved Binaeshee-Quae. She is very talented and creative, and she really makes her music personal.
All of the young performers blew me away this year, as they did last year. There is so much talent out there and it does my heart good to see these young people following their dreams. They have music in their souls and they are letting it out. It is a beautiful thing to see.
My hope is that the bursary will go on for a long time and be part of Taylor’s legacy. I hope to be able to raise more money through the Taylor Mitchell Legacy Trust to be put towards it or perhaps there will be donations made to the OCFF.
Through the bursary Taylor will help other young people find their music family.