Taylor Swift’s new album features a surprising musical cameo from Toronto – not Drake or Shawn Mendes, but the students of Regent Park School of Music. 

It’s Nice To Have A Friend, the penultimate song on the mega-star’s recently released Lover, is a romantic tale of grade-school courtship, which Swift sings over staccato steel pan percussion and dreamy choral vocals from actual youth, aged nine to 18. 

Beyond giving Swift’s trademark gooey nostalgia an extra boost of authenticity, the track is doing one better: it’s actually helping fund RPSM, which provides musical education to children in Toronto’s high-priority neighbourhoods. 

Local producer Frank Dukes worked with Matty Taveres (formerly of BADBADNOTGOOD) to compose original music that was then performed in studio by the RPSM students. The result is Parkscapes, which was added to Dukes’s Kingsway Music Library in June.

“They edited it on the spot and we were like, ‘Okay! Go off!’” recalled 18-year-old student Thomass Muir at the time. “Suddenly, there was music.”

The music was intended for use in music by other producers, with licensing fees going directly back to fund RPSM. Swift’s song comes from the final track on that album, Summer In The South.

When we interviewed Dukes and Tavares about Parkscapes back in June, it was unlikely they knew the first taker would be one of the biggest pop singers of the last decade. Lover is on track to set all sorts of sales records, which could be a major funding boost for the school, which, like so many outreach programs in Ontario, has had its funds slashed by Doug Ford’s provincial government. 

“It’s incredible to hear the one of world’s most popular artists using the RPSM students’ music as a part of her own song,” says Dukes in a press release. 

“Words can’t describe how thrilled we are to hear our students on Taylor Swift’s new album,” adds Richard Marsella, RPSM’s executive director “This exposure is raising awareness and much-needed funds for the Regent Park School of Music. The royalties we receive from the use of our composition in the song will help fund musical education, and for that we are truly grateful.”

Read our full feature on Parkscapes and RPSM here

@nowtoronto | @trapunski

Richard has covered Toronto’s music scene for over a decade. He was once called a “mush-brained millennial blogger” by a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and “actually a pretty good guy” by a Juno-nominated director.

Read more by Richard Trapunski

August 26, 2019

11:57 AM