Last Friday marked a joyous moment for The Myrna Loy Education and Outreach Program, as we were able to bring a visiting artist into Helena Middle School to play for 110 students in the auditorium–our first official in-person visiting artist presentation since February of 2020! Jay also spent time with students from CRA over zoom during his visit.
Canadian artist, Jay Gilday, shared his love for a variety of instruments and genres, playing piano and guitar and singing original songs spanning from hot club jazz style to contemporary ballads. He talked about his son recently discovering musical theatre after years of listening to rap and hip hop, and he encouraged the students not to limit their own artistic explorations, “You may think you have one style, but you never know what you’re going to end up loving.” He also talked a bit about his own song-writing process and said he thinks of songs as a way of commemorating a specific time and place.
At the end of the presentation, one student raised his hand and asked, “What’s your heritage? For instance, mine is Aztec.”
Jay responded by telling the students a bit about his Dene lineage and sharing the story of his coat, which many of them had complimented when they came into the room. The coat was made by his mother, and worn by his father before Jay discovered it in a closet and claimed it for his own. He said it took him many years to gain the confidence to feel like he could walk around in it and wear it as a performer, but that when he finally started to wear it, his mother took it back to refurbish. Now Jay hopes that someday his son will find it in the closet and give it new life.
“I really did like listening to the music and the stories of the music because it is very different and his music has meaning for him. It shows how music interprets peoples lives.” – 8th grade student at HMS
Thanks to Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana for their generous support of our Arts Education programs!