Visiting balladeers to benefit African school children

They're nation builders in the style of Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot, building a sense of country through song. But Kent Fiddy and David Sinclair will play Hellaby Hall on Saturday for a benefit beyond our shores.

They’re nation builders in the style of Stan Rogers and Gordon Lightfoot, building a sense of country through song.

But Kent Fiddy and David Sinclair will play Hellaby Hall on Saturday for a benefit beyond our shores.

They’ll be raising money for children’s school fees in tiny Swaziland, a landlocked country in southern Africa.

“We’d sure like that hall filled up,” said Fiddy, who’s been touring with Sinclair through the Yukon for the last week.

The tour was originally just a fundraiser in Atlin held earlier this week, but it’s now expanded into a Whitehorse show tomorrow night.

The duo’s Whitehorse contact, Reverend David Pritchard of the Anglican Church, raises money for the Swaziland Educational Trust Society.

In Swaziland, the government pays for teachers’ salaries but communities pay for building fees and teacher’s housing, according to a 2002 report by the US Department of Labour.

Pritchard likes to tell a story about the condition of education in Swaziland.

In 2007, he met a young woman during a visit. She had dropped out of Grade 5 in 1995.

In the three years since his visit, the trust helped her pay for Grades 6 through 9, while also sponsoring her child’s preschool.

She lives in a two-room home made of mud and sticks in the countryside.

She leaves for the bus stop at 5:45 a.m. and returns home at 6:15 p.m.

By the time she finishes chores and taking care of her child at 9 p.m., she does her homework by candlelight.

“They just don’t get education in Swaziland,” Fiddy chimes in.

The artists hope to fill Hellaby Hall with families and seniors.

“People in their 70s and 80s love these songs because they’re real,” said Fiddy.

Their latest album, The Way It Ought To Be, is a collection of Canadian stories as far ranging as the Ripple Rock explosion in BC to truck drivers on ice roads in the Northwest Territories.

“This is pretty tasteful stuff,” said Fiddy.

Children often fall in love with the simply rendered stories.

“You just see little kids get mesmerized,” he said.

But guitar fanatics of any age shouldn’t miss the picking prowess of his bandmate, David Sinclair.

He’s played on multiple worldwide tours as Sarah McLachlan’s guitar player.

His lengthy career includes work with k.d. lang, Michael Buble, B.T.O. and the Irish Rovers.

Music Yukon is hosting a guitar workshop with Sinclair on Saturday morning.

The Hellaby Hall show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and kids under 12 get in for free.

The benefit will also be accepting donations.

Contact James Munson at

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