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Paul McCartney Applauds N.S. Student’s Mi’kmaq Cover Of ‘Blackbird’

Talk about the ultimate compliment.
Emma Stevens, 16, covers "Blackbird."
Emma Stevens, 16, covers "Blackbird."

Indigenous Canadian singer Emma Stevens’ cover of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” launched her into the realm of viral fame.

While her version, sung in Mi’kmaq, garnered the attention of more than 425,000 viewers, it also attracted the attention of one rather famous crooner: the man behind the original track.

During a recent concert, Sir Paul McCartney told the audience to watch Stevens’ video on YouTube.

“There’s an incredible version a Canadian girl’s done, you can see it on YouTube, it’s in her native language… it’s really cool check it out,” McCartney said in a concert clip posted to Twitter.

The Grade 10 student and her fellow students at Allison Bernard Memorial High School recorded McCartney’s “Blackbird” in their native Mi’kmaq language and posted the video to YouTube in April.

Watch “Emma Stevens - Blackbird by The Beatles.” Story continues below.

Mi’kmaq is spoken by less than 10,000 people so the students recorded the song to bring awareness to the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The school, which is located in Eskasoni First Nation, N.S., supplements the provincial curriculum with courses in Mi’kmaq language and culture.

McCartney has suggested in interviews that “Blackbird” was inspired by the Black civil rights movement.

It’s a fitting cover for the 16-year-old singer who performed the song last month in front of the UN-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya to raise awareness about the inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as reported by The Chronicle Herald.

On Monday, the chief commissioner of a long-awaited inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women called the violence and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls a genocide.

“This report is about deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide,” chief commissioner Marion Buller writes.

In 2005, the Native Women’s Association of Canada created a database tracking cases and produced a 2010 report documenting 582 missing and murdered Indigenous women. In 2014, the RCMP released a national overview and pegged the number of cases between 1980 and 2012 at nearly 1,200. Other unverified estimates are far higher.

With files from The Canadian Press

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