The Shepherds of Good Hope, a major homeless shelter situated just outside the ByWard Market, has been in the news a lot lately. During the first weekend of the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” a group of protestors demanded food from the Shepherds’ kitchen and harassed staff and a client. News of the “mob-like” attack spread fast and resulted in an outpouring of support and donations to the downtown shelter and drop-in centre.
And now, fittingly, SGH has released a beautiful cover of the classic song “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King, featuring nine Ottawa musicians.
To everyone in our community who supports people experiencing homelessness, and especially to the people who work tirelessly each day to serve those who use our services, this one is for you.
— Shepherds of Good Hope (@sghottawa) February 21, 2022
“Shepherds of Good Hope is proud to present “Stand By Me,” a special collaboration between nine Ottawa musicians produced by Eric Eggleston,” they state on the YouTube video. “This is a time for us as a community to come together and show our compassion for those Shepherds of Good Hope serves—people experiencing homelessness—while also recognizing and thanking our frontline workers, staff, and volunteers who have provided remarkable support during a long pandemic.”
Simple instrumentation—drums, upright bass, piano, and a beautiful violin melody—pays homage to the song’s original R&B/soul style, while a diversity of voices each bring their unique timbre, including the clear, high tone of Akeem Oh, the country twinge of Alanna Sterling, and the strong, classic vocals of Tara Shannon, Michael Curtis Hanna, and Matthew Luloff. The performances are interspersed with uplifting clips of SGH employees, volunteers, and clients.
SGH staff have been on the front lines of multiple crises, from COVID-19 to housing to toxic overdoses. But as the last few weeks have shown, the people of Ottawa are always willing to stand by their downtown neighbours.