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Okotoks-born singer brews a tune to help homeless

Singer/songwriter Ellen Doty kicks off Holiday Giveback campaign for Mustard Seed
SCENE-Ellen Doty Giveback 2021 BWC 9688 web
Okotoks-born singer/songwriter Ellen Doty sports a cone from Made by Marcus on Nov. 25. Teaming up with fellow musician TAYLR, Doty has kicked off her Holiday Giveback campaign, raising funds from sales of special offerings from Monogram Coffee and Made by Marcus Ice Cream to benefit charity.
An Okotoks-born jazz musician is trying to warm up the holidays for those in need.

For the fifth year running, singer/songwriter Ellen Doty is launching her Holiday Giveback initiative, raising funds for a local charity with the help of another artist, as well as java joint Monogram Coffee and ice cream parlour Made by Marcus.

For the second year running, the Mustard Seed was chosen by those involved as the beneficiary.

“Supporting people experiencing homelessness, especially during this time when there’s been an increase in that due to the pandemic, it seems like a good thing to do again,” Doty said.

Crafting a song with the artist, this year's being Calgary musician TAYLR, Doty will use the music to market special coffee and ice cream offerings from the two businesses, which then donate a portion of the sales to a charity.

Using Monogram's special roast, this year's special Made by Marcus offering will be “Coffee and Nog.”

“The coffee this year is a Guatemalan, it’s really smooth, easy to drink, and very much that sort of nice warm drink in your cup,” Doty said. “And the ice cream is coffee and nog, it’s amazing. Marcus always does such a good job.”

For each bag of coffee sold, $5 will be donated to the cause, as well as $2 for each pint of ice cream, then ATB Financial will for the second year running match all funds raised by the campaign.

The purchases also come with a download code for the song.

This year, that song is Glad You’re Here, for which Doty partnered with TAYLR, also known as Annie da Silva. The two were linked up by last year’s Giveback teammate, Wyatt C. Louis.

“He recommended TAYLR and I met with them and we just got along super well,” Doty said. “They’ve got such a beautiful voice and really unique songwriting style, so I thought it would be a really cool fit for this year.”

The song touches on the struggles everyone has endured the past two years.

“We felt like this has all gone on a lot longer than all of us expected and this year we wanted to write something that had a positive message,” Doty said. “Even though it’s been really tough for a lot of folks, and the holidays can be a difficult time anyways, the people that you love, the people that are close to you, we’re glad they’re around.

“Whether you’re meeting virtually or in person or however, it’s great to just still have that connection with people and getting to see people again this year I think will be really special for a lot of families.”

The chance to help the homeless is one da Silva jumped at.

“Sometimes as musicians, we’re so used to getting on stages and saying ‘Hey everyone, listen to my music, come to my show, and follow my journey’ so it’s really nice to be in a position where there’s something going back to the community,” da Silva said. “The process itself was really fun, Ellen is wonderful to work with, just such a sweetheart.”

Through that creative process, the two found a common direction naturally.

“Very much themes of finding that beauty and love and simplicity, and kind of romanticizing the little moments of the holidays,” da Silva said.

“I don‘t think we even really ended up verbalizing this to each other, but somehow when we were coming up with these lyrics, we both really leaned into this idea that we can create a lot of love and a lot of warmth with whatever’s around us, and by that kind of minimal simplistic indulgence in the holiday spirit.”

The idea of celebrating the small things was one da Silva inherited from her great grandmother.

“She was such a glamorous, fabulous lady who made a party out of anything—every day was a celebration,” da Silva said. “Birthdays were intentionally celebrated, but also like if there was a weird holiday, like when you open up your phone calendar and it’s St. Augustine Day. You don’t really understand why we should be celebrating but all of a sudden it’s a big day to celebrate and she’s telling everyone she loves them.

“Every moment gets to be this big celebration and this song kind of encapsulated that for me.”

The sentiment over the past year’s trials was also shared.

“There’s been a lot of mental health trials over the last year, I have certainly felt it and it was really nice to just put it into a song like this,” da Silva said. “Just being able to send that out, pointed towards the people in my life and pointed towards whoever needs to hear it, but then also a little mirror moment pointed back at myself like ‘Oh, I’m glad I’m also here.’

“The last few years have been so intense, but we’re all hopefully coming out of it with some lessons and holding our loved ones a little bit tighter.”

Doty hopes the campaign will only build on the success of past years.

“It’s really increased every year,” Doty said. “Last year was incredible, it was our best year yet—we raised almost $30,000.”

The campaign runs from Dec. 1-31 and Glad You’re Here will be available on major streaming platforms. In addition, Doty will also be performing in a holiday concert on Dec. 18 at the National Music Centre in Calgary, with TAYLR joining as a special guest.


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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