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Beautiful ballad on difficult subject of elder abuse claims top prize in contest
Conan Boyd’s gift for music has provided him with a very special Christmas gift.
The talented amateur musician has claimed the top prize of $500 after being named the winner in the No Excuse for Abuse contest co-sponsored by Better at Home and the Osoyoos Times,
Better at Home is the provincial organization that assists local seniors and allows them to live independently in their own homes.
Boyd could really use the money, especially at Christmas.
“I sold all of my material possessions and purchased a bus … I’m currently living in the bus with my sister on my other sister’s property up near Cawston,” said Boyd, 32, who recently returned to live in British Columbia after spending 12 years in Alberta.
“I was actually in the process of gutting the bus and fixing it up when I decided to sit down and write this song after deciding to enter the contest. I will use this $500 to purchase insulation and building materials for the bus … this money is a very nice Christmas gift that I really wasn’t expecting.”
Trying to write a song about a difficult subject like elder abuse wasn’t easy, but Boyd did a terrific job in coming up with the tune he has called Mrs. Jones.
The four-minute tune tells the story of an elderly woman who is victimized physically, but offers an optimistic plea to show kindness, compassion and empathy for seniors, said Boyd.
“I wanted to try and send a message that too many elderly people are abused, but I also wanted the song to end on a positive note,” he said. “I wanted to bring a more youthful perspective to the song and send the message to respect seniors for everything they’ve accomplished in their lives.
“The bottom line is this (elder abuse) is a big issue today and it’s getting worse.”
Stacy Little, program manager of the Better at Home program in Osoyoos, said she was thrilled with the response to this contest as she received about two dozen entries, most of them poems and written submissions.
Only two songs with original lyrics were submitted and Boyd’s powerful song was an easy choice to win the top prize, she said.
“I’ve played the song for a lot of people who work everyday with seniors and it brings many of them to tears,” she said. “It’s a very powerful and emotional song and everyone who has heard it is very impressed. It’s a very powerful song with great lyrics and Conan did a wonderful job in putting it together.”
South Okanagan Better at Home is creating and producing a DVD to bring awareness of the many forms of elder abuse, said Little.
Mastermind Studios in Kamloops is producing the video and Boyd’s winning song will play a vital role in the final production, she said.
Boyd will be heading to Mastermind Studio early in the new year to professionally record his tune as part of the DVD project, he said.
“I think that’s what I’m most excited about,” said Boyd. “I’ve only been in a professional studio one other time and it’s pretty exciting to know this song is going to be recorded professionally as part of an important project like this.”
The video will be distributed across the province as part of Better at Home’s provincial strategy to fight elder abuse, said Little.
Boyd comes from a “very musical family” and he has been playing guitar and writing tunes since he was 14 years old.
“I taught myself to play guitar and have never taken a lesson in my life,” he said proudly. “It’s always been a dream to be able to make a living from playing music, but it’s very hard to do.”
Boyd said he has written several dozen songs over the past 18 years and is hoping to be able to land a job picking fruit in the next couple of months so he can afford to possibly head into a recording studio and record a full CD of original tunes.
When the final DVD is completed in the next few months, Little said she will hold a launch party for local seniors to view it in Osoyoos.