Belong To Song in Good Company with debut CD release

London Arts Council’s Belong To Song participants recently released their debut album, Good Company.

The musicians in the London Arts Council’s successful Belong To Song (BTS) program now find themselves in Good Company.

Members of the council’s London Artist in Residence program, the Belong To Song artists are community musicians with lived experience of mental illness. The 11 members of the program have been mentored by professional musicians and BTS facilitators Catherine McInnes and Jake Levesque, providing them with the support to write, rehearse, arrange and record songs.

The result of their efforts was a recently released debt CD, Good Company. Ontario Arts Council’s Artists In Education Projects Grant predominantly funded the project.

The songs were recorded over the fall of 2016 at The Shack, a local recording studio operated by Simon Larochette. The result is a “100 percent Made In London” compilation of 11 stylistically diverse songs performed by the singer-songwriters and other BTS musicians.

“This recording project, along with everything about Belong To song, is a labour of love,” McInnes said. “The dedication, musicianship and stories of recovery of everyone involved are incredibly moving and inspiring. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy when you listen to the CD.”

The CD is named after the final track on the album, Good Company, by Larry Lund.

The album title also, according to McInnes, unanimously reflects the collective’s feeling about the program.

This is Belong To Song’s first professional recording. CDs were available for purchased for $10 at a launch event held Feb. 27 at Innovation Works. They can also be purchased by contacting McInnes at

Belong To Song is now in its seventh year.

A year ago it became a program of the London Arts Council where each week, 20-25 people with lived experience of mental illness attend the weekly drop in music jam on Thursday afternoons on the third floor of My Sisters’ Place.

The program uses a model of co-facilitation where a peer facilitator works with a professional musician each week. Participants can sing, play an instrument or just come to listen and socialize.

Others attend Tuesday afternoon songwriting sessions, learning about various aspects of songwriting and performance, collaborating and supporting each member’s ideas for songs in progress.

Belong To Song also provides many opportunities throughout the year to perform at community events.

Beyond the opportunity to develop their musicianship, McInnes said the program provides a strong and organic peer-based support system. The relationships formed between many of the core participants, she adds, have had a significant impact on their quality of life.


YMCA of Western Ontario announces 2017 Women of Excellence class

The 2017 YMCA Women of Excellence include (from left) Mary Intven-Wallace, Michelle Quintyn, Kathy Parker, Laurie Lashbroook, Vickie Croley, Andrea Barker, Dr. Marina Salvadori and Lynne Cram.

The YMCA of Western Ontario has announced the eight honourees who will be recognized as the 2017 Women of Excellence.

“We are delighted that so many accomplished and passionate women with such distinct and compelling backgrounds have been selected as our 2017 Women of Excellence Honourees,” said Women of Excellence co-chairs Terry Zavitz and Andrea Feddema. “This is a sincere tribute to the talent and hard-working contributions of women in London and the surrounding community.”

The 2017 YMCA Women of Excellence are:

  • Mary Intven-Wallace, Arts, Culture, Education & Training — recognized as an acclaimed artist, a beloved teacher and a talented author of 16 children’s books
  • Michelle Quintyn, Business and Professions — recognized as an innovator, entrepreneur and agent of social change and economic prosperity;
  • Kathy Parker, Community & Volunteerism — recognized for her commitment to the London community, helping to raise millions of dollars that have stayed in London;
  • Laurie Lashbrook, Entrepreneurs — recognized as a champion for entrepreneurship, an outspoken advocate for women in business and a dedicated leader in building the local economy;
  • Dr. Marina Salvadori, Health, Science & Technology — recognized as a provincial, national and international expert in immunization and immunization policy;
  • Vickie Croley, Sport, Fitness & Recreation — as the first Western female head coach of a men’s team recognized as a role model to females who seek a similar career in a male-dominated field;
  • Andrea Barker, Young Woman of Excellence — recognized for her resilience throughout many traumatic loses, now in her third year at Carleton University in the Honours Neuroscience and Mental Health Program; and
  • Lynne Cram, Outstanding Achievement — recognized for her decades of volunteerism and philanthropy and for her impact specifically on the Boys and Girls Club of London as a volunteer, donor and as chair of their Horizon Campaign.

“The YMCA Women of Excellence Gala is one of the many ways that the YMCA fulfills our commitment to the development of spirit, mind and body in people of all backgrounds, beliefs and abilities in our global community,” said YMCA of Western Ontario CEO Andrew Lockie. “The event raises funds for our YMCA Strong Kids Program which provides access to camps, programs and services for all children and families regardless of ability to pay.”

The women will be honoured at the YMCA Women of Excellence Gala on Wednesday, May 17 at the London Convention Centre.

Tickets for the gala are $175 and $80 for students. Proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the YMCA’s Strong Kids Program which helps less advantaged children enjoy the summer camp experience and provides access to our programs and services for children and families.

The YMCA Women of Excellence program has paid homage to the exceptional achievements of some 100 women over the past 30 years.