Paul McCartney says he was a little anxious about singing “Blackbird” at a weekend concert after meeting a Cape Breton teenager behind a much-discussed Mi’kmaq rendition of the Beatles classic.
The British rock legend told a large audience at Vancouver’s BC Place that Emma Stevens’s version in the Aboriginal language “is so beautiful” it made him nervous about performing his version.
He told the crowd that he’d met Stevens before the show on Saturday evening.
Stevens posted a cover of the song on YouTube after she and her music teacher, Carter Chiasson, recorded it at Allison Bernard High School in Eskasoni, N.S.
Stevens and her classmates recorded the song to highlight the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages, which seeks to raise awareness of threats to Indigenous languages across the world.
Chiasson produced the video, and the lyrics were translated into Mi’kmaq by another community member, Katani Julian.
McCartney first recorded “Blackbird” for The Beatles’ 1968 White Album.
The 76-year-old is currently on tour, and played in Vancouver on Saturday evening.
Stevens’ version has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since it was uploaded to YouTube on April 25.
Her performance earned her worldwide attention, including a trip to a UN-Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, where she performed and delivered a short speech that highlighted the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous girls and women in Canada.