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West Coast musician designs t-shirt for charity

Kathryn Calder isn’t just a pretty voice. Although the curly-haired musician is gaining more and more recognition for her involvement…

By Amanda Ash , in The Indie Files: A commentary on emerging Canadian music , on January 19, 2009 Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kathryn Calder isn’t just a pretty voice.

Kathryn Calder performing with The New Pornographers in 2006. Photo by myself.
Kathryn Calder performing with The New Pornographers. Photo by myself.

Although the curly-haired musician is gaining more and more recognition for her involvement in bands such as Victoria’s Immaculate Machine and Vancouver’s The New Pornographers, it seems Calder isn’t only interested in the heights the spotlight can take her charming vocals.

Instead, she’s eager to learn how her voice—and all musicians’ voices, for that matter—can serve a greater purpose once the bar closes and the microphone’s been taken down.

This past weekend, Calder announced her involvement with the Yellow Bird Project, a Montréal-based, non-profit initiative that collaborates with musicians to support charities. According to its website, the Yellow Bird Project assists bands in designing t-shirts, which are then silk screened and sold by the organization. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: All proceeds go to a charity of the group’s choice, fans get a swanky new shirt to show off and artists get a chance to raise their own profile. 

With the support of both Immaculate Machine and The New Pornographers (which consists of heavyweight talents such as A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar), Calder took the initiative to spearhead and design the t-shirt. And what did she come up with? A whale swimming in a deep blue ocean against a pomegranate background. 

Too cute.

Calder also decided to donate all proceeds to the ALS Society Of BC. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that kills eighty per cent of those affected within two to five years.

Other Canadian indie musicians that’ve gone on to support their own charities include Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade and Stars. 

The Yellow Bird Project is a great idea, and their mandate articulates my sentiment perfectly: “Musicians have a voice, and this is really useful—the people we want to help tend not to have much of a voice at all. The more musicians that get involved, the greater the voice we can give them.”

In the end, artists who choose to support charities aren’t only helping those less fortunate; they’re also practicing the standard D-I-Y ethic required to get out and get heard. Think Rock The Vote or Insite’s free street concert. Sure, it’s a great way to earn publicity, but in my mind, if you’re helping others as you initiate your rise to stardom, then by all means, go forth.

This is where I end my post with a little charity of my own.

Neko Case is reaching out to music bloggers everywhere, asking them to post her first single from the upcoming album Middle Cyclone. For every post, Neko Case and her label ANTI- will make a cash donation of five dollars to the Best Friends Animal Society.

So if you’ve got a music blog, you know what to do. 

Here’s the link to download “People Got A Lotta Nerve”:



  • Amanda,
    Your musical tastes never cease to impress me.
    I can’t wait for the new Neko Case.

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