Toronto born-and-raised singer Meredith Shaw is using her talents and her networks to help empower girls. Last week Shaw launched the Girls Who Believe contest with Girls Inc. I spoke with her about the project, her music, and why she thinks it’s important to work with girls on issues around creativity and self-esteem.
Meredith Shaw got started with music at a young age: “I had always kind of known music was my thing…I think my parents really recognized it before I did.” She took classes on piano, guitar, voice from when she was a little kid. When she was in her mid-teens a producer heard her and she decided to go into music as a career. In the last couple of years Meredith met Gordie Johnson. He produced her first full-length album, the positive and inspirational Place Called Happy. “Getting to do that with someone like him is really amazing because his track record is awesome…we got to do it [recording the album] in Willie Nelson’s studio in Austin, which I was really star-struck by,” she said.
Place Called Happy has a track called “Girls Who Believe”.
“Girls Who Believe was a really special song for me on the record. I knew when I was writing it it was a very special song to me. It’s really true to me and what I believe in…usually those songs are what resonate with people,” Meredith told me. The song got picked up in an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation and that process of realizing that a young demographic liked the song helped spark the GWB project and contest.
“I thought that demographic for the show likes the song, maybe I can reach out to them in some way that isn’t inviting them into a bar they can’t get into,” she explained.
Meredith started by getting booked into schools and she told me it was an amazing experience to make connections with girls and talk about self-esteem and creativity. This prompted her connection with Girls Inc., a non-profit that works on the same issues (they state their mission is “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold”.)
The Girls Who Believe contest came out of that. To enter, girls have to submit a YouTube video no longer than three minutes about what makes them believe. The winner will get a cameo in the “Girls Who Believe” music video, a piece of believe bling by Canadian designer Rock and Reverie, and a $250 donation in her name to Girls Inc.
Here’s Meredith’s video announcing the contest:
So far, she says the response has been fantastic:
“We’ve already got documentaries coming in and every time I watch one I tear up…It’s really about – we all have dreams we want to accomplish in our lives…and it’s not easy no matter what you’re doing and I think hearing what makes people go for it is really interesting and inspiring and is what this whole thing is about. It’s about what makes you a Girl Who Believe? What makes you tick and go out there and do stuff?”
The next step for Meredith is a “Girls Who Believe” session in Toronto later in July. Some girls that she knows will be coming out and a couple will share songs they’ve written. There will also be a chance for girls to discuss self-esteem and creativity issues with Shaw and each other.
It seemed to me that Meredith’s work empowering girls was pretty feminist. I asked her if she thought of herself as a feminist:
“Absolutely for sure definitely a feminist,” she answered, “I find it interesting that some people don’t identify that way or that it’s considered a dirty word. I think more people are feminist than think they are. I would hope everyone is – guys, girls, everyone.”
Want to connect with Meredith or listen to some of her music? Check out her website at http://www.meredithshaw.com/.
I’ll leave off with Meredith’s most recent video, for her song “Stars”:
(photo by Diane Foy)