Born and raised on the rocky shores of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, Alan Doyle of the beloved Canadian band Great Big Sea, as well as his more recent solo music ventures, was born into a family filled with song.

“The Doyles in Petty Harbour have always been a musical family,” he explains. “Music was incidental. [My] Mom played piano and accordion; Dad played guitar and sang.”

As a child in a small fishing village, the idea of becoming a professional musician seemed like a long shot.  Despite this, Doyle teamed-up with three other musicians to form Great Big Sea and launched into a musical journey that has spanned two decades. “I have to be a grown-up, professional musician, especially on the road these days, which leads to some measured performances and celebrations,” he says. “But I still love it like I did when I was a kid.”

While Doyle took guitar lessons on-and-off throughout his childhood, much of his musical knowledge was absorbed from those around him. Prior to finding success as a professional musician, he trained to become a teacher and worked as a tour guide, all while pursuing a continued drive for music.

This drive is shared by young people under the watch of child welfare agencies across Canada, inspired by musicians like Doyle. Through programs like our IGNITE THE SPARK FUND, they are able tap into their own musical passions when given access to musical instruments and lessons. These experiences not only foster the power of expression but healing and recovery from past traumas that often involve abuse or neglect. They also give these young people an opportunity to develop their own identities.

Doyle supports giving all young people well-rounded exposure to the arts, adding that:

“Anything productive that gets young people excited is important and should be fostered.”

While not every kid served through the Foundation’s music enrichment programs will go on to become a professional musician, they will carry the knowledge and confidence gained through their early experiences well into their futures. And this, beyond any other benefit, can help them believe in their own abilities.

Learn what music means to Desta, one of our funding recipients by clicking here.

About The Author

The Children's Aid Foundation funds programs to help Canada's most vulnerable kids overcome the obstacles in life that hold them back. We are committed to giving ongoing support to those who need it most.

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