Katherine Wheatley YOUTHSONGS
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Katherine Wheatley YOUTHSONGS

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Guelph, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Band Folk Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos





“Youth songs was the best school-wide program I’ve seen in my career as an educator.”
- Nelson Keane, Principal, Paisley Rd. P.S.

“ I just want to thank you for the amazing energy that you have brought into my classroom. My students and I all look forward to when you come and work with us. We are very proud of the song, "CANADA IS MY FAMILY". Thank you so much for your patience, inspiration, enthusiasm and expertise. We have so benefited from your presence. You need to know that everyone is thrilled with the quality of the CD. You and David did an amazing job of recording and mixing the songs. It sounds so professional! It's been a hit and a real gift to the students, staff and parents of Paisley Road School.”
- Jane Rocher, Grade 4 Teacher

Katherine Wheatley’s Song Writing Workshops with Grade 7 students attending schools in Parry Sound and area schools were amazing. She was patient, enthusiastic, and very talented. It was an absolutely wonderful and extraordinary experience for the students and teachers. Dave Golden, Education Director, Charles Stockey Centre, Parry Sound

“I believe it was an enlightening project for everyone who participated and listeners. It was a fantastic way to bring the school together with our communities. It was uplifting and fun to listen as well!” - Vittoria Balfour, parent

"Creating the music and lyrics was an extraordinary musical experience. Every song captures the spirit of the children in such an exciting way. My children are so proud to share their CD with family and friends." - Anne Phillips, parent

"We have been playing the CD all summer and other families have been also. It's great!" - Mary Anne Giovinazzo, parent

“The program had a big impact -- teachers and kids loved it. I attended the concert and was so moved by it. I support this wonderful work.”
- Erin Kelly, Superintendent, Upper Grand District School Board

“I thought that the music program was wonderful for the students. The trustees were delighted as well and welcomed the performers to the Board Room.”
- Martha Rogers, Director of Education, Upper Grand District School Board

“The presentation was absolutely wonderful. The children were so engaged that it was obvious that this is a venue that should be pursued elsewhere. This is the type of outreach that all cultural groups in Guelph should strive to accomplish. My congratulations to you, Jude and Katherine on a job well done. Sign me up for at least one CD.”
- Nicholas Dalton, Hillside Music Festival

"The music enrichment program last year at Paisley Rd. Public School, developed by Jude Vadala and Katherine Wheatley, was fantastic! The feedback from students, teachers, and parents has been extremely positive. The entire school community was excited throughout the process! The songs written and sung by each class were developed into a CD and are wonderful. We hope to have Jude and Katherine back this year."
- Nelson Keane, Principal



The Festival of the Sound opened its 28th season this past weekend, and the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts and the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame celebrated the opening of its 5th season....

But the concert that stands out for me happened on Saturday at noon – Songs of Parry Sound, the Stockey Centre’s 5th Anniversary Celebration. A group of Grade 7 students who had worked with Katherine Wheatley in May and June in a series of songwriting workshops shared the results with the community at this concert.

Ms Wheatley, along with Bob Harley (pedal guitar) and Craig Harley (piano), accompanied the students as they performed eight wonderful songs about the history of the Parry Sound area.

The students were aided in singing the songs by some of our past Parry Sound Idols, plus a couple of parents and teachers. But the words and the music belonged the composers, and touched the hearts of the audience.

From a song about the great explosion at Depot Harbour written by Greg Lawson’s Grade 7 Class at William Beatty P.S., and its chorus “It was the night that turned to day/At Depot Harbour, Georgian Bay/The fire burned on and on/Until the town was gone, gone, gone, gone, gone”, to the love of this beautiful area expressed by M. Derosier’s Grade 7 class at St. Peter’s C.S. in their song’s chorus “If I had just one day/I’d spend it on Georgian Bay,” these honest, heart-felt songs moved many of the audience members to tears. As one person said after the concert, the pride these young people showed for their home in these songs is a sentiment we simply don’t express often enough.

The committee planning the 100th anniversary of the trestle bridge needs to listen to ‘The Trestle Bridge Song’ written by Emily Fell’s Grade 7 Class at William Beatty P.S. which says: “It’s what people always recognize/It adds wonder to the Georgian Bay skies/Its history, its strength, its grace/Make this town, Parry Sound, a more beautiful place.”

‘The Healing Song’ by Dianne King’s grade 7 class at Wasauksing School gave us all a moment of quiet centredness as the voices of the children sang “Sing the healing song."

All day and all night long/When you’re feeling calm/Just sing the healing song.”

In contrast, the song by Barry Jenkin’s Grade 7 Class at William Beatty P.S. reminded us of the great train robbery with the opening refrain: “On an August night in ‘28 three bandits hopped a train/Seven miles south of Sudbury but a mystery still remains/They held the clerks at gunpoint ‘til they got to Parry Sound/They stole outdated King George bills and crept around the town/It was the night Tom Jackson died/It was the night Tom Jackson died.

Rob Hammond’s Grade 7 Class at McDougall P.S. picked a different tragedy – the closure of the Avro Arrow project. The chorus reflects both the sense of loss of the crew who built the planes and the legend that one of the planes flew away before it could be destroyed: “Oh how we could have flown/The fastest the world had ever, ever known/We who worked on it have something to say/Hey Diefenbaker, Hey Diefenbaker/Hey Diefenbaker, one got away.”

Cam Murch’s Grade 7 Class at Nobel P.S. tells the story of one man’s life. His pride in his home is encapsulated by the chorus: “Dynamite to build highways and mines/Water and rocks and beaches and pines/Fastest engine of the day/Killbear Park where the children play/That’s my home, that’s Nobel.”

The Henderson/Golden Grade 7 Class of William Beatty P.S. chose to write about Bobby Orr. Their chorus: “He worked hard every day/To the arena he’d come and play/He changed the game for ever more/His name was Bobby Orr,” showed their pride in the accomplishments of one of Parry Sound’s own.

Katherine Wheatley did a wonderful job leading the students through the process of researching and shaping a topic, writing lyrics and music and polishing the songs to perfection during the workshops. Dave Golden, the Stockey Centre’ Education Coordinator, was a key part of the project’s success as he convinced the schools and teachers to participate in the workshops so close to schools’ end, scheduled the workshops and rehearsals, gathered together all the singers even after the students were out of school, and planned all the details for the concert. The workshops were part of the Stockey Centre’s new education program, SHAPE, while the concert offered the students a unique opportunity to be part of the Festival of the Sound.

Amongst all of the wonderful professional musicians the Festival of the Sound is bringing to Parry Sound this summer, and there are many fabulous concerts to come, this performance reminded us all that songs from the heart, no matter how young the songwriters, touch us all. - FESTIVAL OF THE SOUND OPENS WITH A TERRIFIC BANG - The North Star

"Katherine Wheatley Concert Reviews"

"I’m in love...with the music of Katherine Wheatley. A verse into her first song “Mrs. McIvor”, I was hooked. Being a KW virgin, I was totally unprepared for the absolute beauty of her voice and lyrics".

"This is a performer to keep you on the edge of your seat"!

"Wheatley, sporting a beautiful voice and heady guitar work, brought the house down with her stunningly intimate musical meanderings. Her voice and guitar work drew the crowd in from the moment she started to sing. Her witty repartee gave these songs a footing from whence to fly. And fly she did"!
THE EXAMINER, Peterborough, ON

"...an absolutely transcendent concert...she exudes sheer kindness and love...blessedly, refreshingly, a truly Canadian original".

"When she started her first song, the audience knew that it would be a most unusual concert. Alternately entertaining the sold-out crowd with insightful and humourous vignettes, or simply leading off with her marvelous guitar work, Wheatley took her listeners on an enthralling adventure".

"Wheatley’s songs have intermingling themes of underdogs and unlikely heroes all set against a Canadian small town landscape. From LTD’s, Pontiacs and hand gesturing out of a pick-up truck to the neighbours gossiping about an eccentric, yet tenacious old Mrs. McIvor and a very self-conscious game of spin the bottle in a snowmobile suit, her songs are vivid, familiar and engaging".
THE ECHO, Guelph, ON

"The house concert featuring Katherine Wheatley & Wendell Ferguson was better than a solid night's sleep. For the night to be so magical, so memorable, so perfect, it is important to talk more about Katherine's music. Lyrically, her songs are thoughtful and reflective, sometimes funny...often poignant...Melodically and harmonically, all of her songs were beautifully crafted and expertly performed. But it's her performance of the songs that remains so memorable for me".

"Man, can this serene red head ever play guitar".

- Various Publications


"Katherine Wheatley's got moxy to spare". (Four stars)

"Like Joni Mitchell, Edie Brickell and Bonnie Raitt, Wheatley has an ear for melody lines that stay in your head, a true craftsman's sense of song structure and a voice that commands your undivided attention".
THE GUARDIAN, Charlottetown, PEI

"As a listener, it's hard not to sit back, close your eyes and watch the movie play".

"...turns pebbles of everyday life into dreamy mountains of song".

"Wheatley sings about good things in life, things like secret hiding places, friends, gum, banana seat bicycles, coffee, tea and love. She sings vivid pictures that every Canadian would fondly recognize and she sings them beautifully".
VIEW MAGAZINE, Hamilton, ON (Cover Story)

"Chock full of literate, thoughtful and frequently piercing lyrics, Wheatley is a great storyteller, and her voice, documenting stories of lost innocence, the beauty of the Canadian landscape, hockey cards, and the human costs of so-called 'technological advancement,' fills this record with a warm glow".

"A voice that's beautiful and assured".

- various journals

"Katherine Wheatley - Her Home Grown Lyrics are Nurtured by Parry Sound Roots"

To hear singer/songwriter Katherine Wheatley talk of her childhood growing up in Parry Sound, it sounds wildly idyllic, wondrous and maybe even a little enchanted in the simplest of ways.

Born to Michael and Diane Wheatley, as one of six children, Ms. Wheatley’s days as a young girl were filled with adventure and mischief spending nearly every waking moment with friends in the street and backyards near her family’s Waubeek Street home.

“We had a fabulous neighbourhood,” said Ms. Wheatley of the block with mostly girls, all of whom she still remembers by name. “Our addresses were all between 24 and 31 Waubeek, so we were a stone’s throw from each other. Every day after school and every evening after dinner we played. We played Skipping and Yogi and Deer Tag and Hide and Seek and Sardines and Car Car C.A.R. and Nicki Nicki Nine Doors.”

The Wheatley family backyard was big enough for baseball, so a group often played there or in the Snider’s backyard which had a Badminton net.

“We raided the neighbours; vegetable gardens and apple trees,” she said. “We swam, we skied, we cycled, we did cartwheels and handstands. We were always doing something. We hated being called in for dinner and for bed.”

The months during the long,deep freeze of winter were also spent outside where the neighbourhood girls and boys tobogganed and skated on outdoor rinks.
“We’d get there early on Saturday mornings and skate until the boys came and hogged the rink for hockey. Back then, girls weren’t playing hockey in Parry Sound.”
The close-knit family also spent a lot of time together, skiing every weekend at the Parry Sound Ski Hill and cross-country skiing at Camp Tapawingo.
“In fact, from about Grade 9 on, the high school cross country ski team was pretty much the biggest part of my life,” she said.
Summer jobs for Ms Wheatley included being a lifeguard for three summers and being a sanitary engineer with her sister in Archipelago Township.
”Which meant we took care of the dumpsites,” she explained.
A portable record player in her bedroom and borrowed albums from older siblings ignited a young Ms. Wheatley’s interest in music.
“I’d listen, over and over again, to the albums that my older sister and brother owned - Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel,” she said, “I took piano lessons from Olive Perry. I think she was mortified when, every year, I’d ask to play a Burt Bacharach song at the recital instead of something from the Royal Conservatory book. I loved songwriters.”

Soon after her love affair with music began, the teen “begged” her parents for a guitar because so many of the songwriters she adored played the guitar.
“When I was 14, I remember looking under my parents’ bed the night before Christmas and seeing a big triangular box - it was thrilling. I knew then that I was getting a guitar the next day,” she said. “I played clarinet in the concert band and saxophone in the stage band. John McGuirk, the music teacher at William Beatty and Jim Ferris at the high school had put together inspiring and rigourous music programs. The are probably my biggest inspirations.”
Songwriting began shortly after Ms Wheatley got her guitar. However, inspiration came from an unlikely source.
“Back then, I didn’t know how to write lyrics, so I’d go to the Rexall Drug store and peruse the Hallmark Card rack,” she explained. “I’d combine stanzas from different cards and copy them surreptitiously into my diary. Then I’d go home and put music to them. I knew I was doing something wrong, but it got me started.”
Her first public appearance was at the Bobby Orr Community Centre in 1978, singing Rhinestone Cowboy with a local band.
“I think I was nervous,” she recalls. “I practised a lot.”
Following high school in her 20s, Ms Wheatley worked for several summers in northern Saskatchewan with geologist Ken Ashton. She had an interest in the field and considered pursuing a career studying rocks.
“Ken loved listening to music and he was a great guitar player. In the evenings, I’d play the guitar while Ken labelled rocks and mapped out our next days’ routes,” she said. “He asked one night, ‘Wheatley, why didn’t you ever go into music?’ I responded by asking, ‘Why didn’t you go into music Ken?’ His answer was simple, ‘Because I love rocks.’ If I was going to enjoy geology for the rest of my life, I better love rocks.
“But I didn’t love rocks. I did, however, love music. That was the moment I began to think seriously about taking up music as a career.”
Although her father had passed away by the time Ms Wheatley seriously considered a musical career, she admits her mother was worried for her.
“Music is a great career in terms of what you do and who you meet, but it’s difficult financially - she knew that. I considered staying in science. I started a masters degree in Environmental Science at the University of Calgary with a focus on groundwater contamina - Sideroads Magazine, Summer 2007


The following is a list of the individual school CDs Katherine has done with the YOUTHSONGS program.

Paisley Panther Song Book (Guelph 2006)
with Jude Vadala

Laurine Avenue Song Book (Guelph 2007)
with Jude Vadala

Nantucket New School Song Book (Nantucket 2007)

Songs of Parry Sound (Parry Sound 2007)

Youthsongs of Madison and Hanover (Indiana 2008)

Songs of Peace, Nantucket New School (Nantucket 2008)

Youthsongs From Tecumseh Elementary (London 2008)

Songs About Nantucket by the Students At Nantucket New School (2009)

Portraits Of Change In Regent Park, Nelson Mandela Park Public School Songbook, Inspired by The Six String Nation Guitar (Toronto 2009)

"Remembering My Rights"
The Children and Youth Advisory Council at the London Health Sciences Centre Children's Hospital (2009) 1 song

Youthsongs of St. Patrick Catholic School, (Kinkora 2010)

Standing Stone School - Songs of The Oneida Nation (2010)

St. Sofia School - Songs To Celebrate Our 30th Anniversary (Mississauga 2010)

Nantucket New School - New Songs (Nantucket 2010)

Laurelwood Public School - Making The Difference Thru Song (Waterloo 2010)

Humphrey School Songs (Humphrey 2011)

Suddaby Public School - Suddaby Songs (Kitchener 2011)

Westvale Public School - The Westvale Way (Waterloo 2011)



"Youthsongs was the best school-wide program I've seen in my career as an educator."
- Nelson Keane, Principal, Paisley Rd. P.S., Guelph, ON

"It was an absolutely wonderful and extraordinary experience for the students and teachers".
- Dave Golden, Education Director, Charles Stockey Centre, Parry Sound, ON


Katherine helps classes, up to 6 per week, write songs. In 3 one-hour sessions, she gives them a crash course in songwriting. The class chooses a topic, they brainstorm, they write the lyrics and they write the melody. Each class ends up with their own song. If time allows, the classes co-write a school anthem.

The kids most often write about issues that are important to them - their community, their school, the environment. Their voices are simple and pure.

During the creative process, students are encouraged to listen to and respect each others ideas as well as offer their own ideas. They learn, through writing songs together, that open-mindedness, listening and courage are key components of collaboration and creativity.

At the end of the program, the songs are recorded in the library or staff room or whichever room is most suitable for setting up a portable studio. A few of the older students who play instruments may end up composing and recording parts (cello or violin pads, clarinet or guitar solos). All the songs are put on a school CD. The CDs are duplicated and each student receives a CD. The booklet is made with a blank cover so that each student may create their own cover.

A concert is held for friends and family to celebrate the accomplishments of the students. The CDs may be sold to raise money for future arts programs at the school. In addition to school concerts, various classes have performed their songs at the opening Of The Festival of The Sound in Parry Sound ON, The Ohio River Valley Festival in Madison, IN and at The Luminato Festival of Creativity + Arts in Toronto, ON.

"The presentation was absolutely wonderful. The children were so engaged that it was obvious this is the type of outreach that all cultural groups in Guelph should strive to accomplish."
- Nicholas Dalton, Hillside Music Festival

Please click on the audio button above for songs written through the Youthsongs Program and the Youthsongs Local History Program.

For more information on the songs, click on the lyrics once youre on the audio page.

Please click on the press button above for more testimonials.

Please click on the photo button above for photos of concerts and recording.

Please click on "Basic Requirements" for a more detailed description of The Youth Songs Program, The Youthsongs Local History Program and other school songwriting workshops.

Please click on "set list" for Katherine's biography.

To discuss budget and the possibility of bringing Katherine to your school, please e-mail Katherine at katherine.wheatley@sympatico.ca or contact Robin at 705 649 2880.

for an incredible songwriting-in-the schools program. Katherine has been a mentor with SASSCANADA for 4 years.