Play It Forward: A Fundraising Concert for Indigenous Youth

Join us on Thursday, February 29, at the Boardmore Playhouse for “Play It Forward” – a fundraising concert put on by Cape Breton University’s Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) students as a part of their Community Action Project. All proceeds from the concert will go towards helping Indigenous students purchase instrument, musical equipments and lessons at Long & McQuade!

CBU’s BACS program encourages students to design and build community-based projects with these teams, teaching critical networking and communication skills along the way. The concert highlights musicians and artists from the community as well as the four students undertaking a Community Action Project which is a part of their BACS curriculum at CBU.

Doors open at 6:00pm with performances from 7:00-9:00pm.

Featuring performances by:

  • Morgan Toney
  • Isabella Samson
  • Kyle MacNeil’s Music Class
  • Breagh Kelly
  • Forester Dancers
  • Dawn and Margie Beaton
  • Ben Smith
  • Kyle and Ryan MacNeil
  • David Meuse
  • Nina Kent
  • Rudy Pacé

Tickets can be bought for a minimum $5 donation at the door. All proceeds go towards Indigenous Youth interested in learning music.

Artist Biographies

Morgan Toney

Morgan Toney is both a 3rd year BACS student at Cape Breton University and an award-winning musician (Fiddler and singer/songwriting) from Wagmatcook First Nation. His community has taught him the important Mi’kmaq teachings which he has integrated both at university studies and in his songwriting. Once Morgan receives his Music Degree, he plans to return to his community to teach the youth in his community how to play the fiddle. His debut album, First Flight, blends classic melodies with fresh compositions that touch on current issues, such as missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada. Morgan was recently nominated for a JUNO for Traditional Roots Album of the Year. Toney hopes to inspire positive change through his music and believes that everyone should stand up against racism. He’s passionate about preserving the Mi’kmaw language and is grateful to the Elders who taught him. At his concerts, Mi’kmaq and Cape Bretoners come together to celebrate their shared culture.

Isabella Samson

2022 Canadian Folk Music Awards Young Performer of the Year and winner of Music Nova Scotia’s Folk/Roots Album of the Year, Isabella Samson has been making serious waves in the East Coast. A tasteful glimpse into the mind of a young woman navigating life, love, and the world around her, Samson’s music has been described as a perfect mix of Joni Mitchell and Lizzy McAlpine. She has been recognized for her remarkable ability to captivate any crowd with her unique sense of humour and thoughtful lyricism, as well as the sweeping vocals she has become known for. On and off the stage, Samson has always been nothing but true to herself and her Cape Breton roots, guaranteeing a show that will leave you longing for more.

Breagh Kelly

Breagh is a singer-songwriter who has graced festivals and local venues, sharing her musical talent. A current Bachelor of Arts Community Studies student, majoring in Music at Cape Breton University, she has received academic recognition with the President’s Entrance Scholarship.

Noteworthy achievements include winning the Ocean Wise award for an original climate change song, securing second place in the TD Music Moves Me Program and securing a spot in Makin’ Waves as an emerging artist. Breagh is also an active member of the Cape Breton Sledgehammers Adult Sledge Hockey Team and enjoys performing musical theatre. With a rich background in performing arts, sports, and community engagement, Breagh is making waves in both the music industry and the wider community.

Dawn and Margie Beaton

Dawn and Margie Beaton, who come from a long line of Celtic musicians, started their musical careers at the age of four, learning step dance from their grandmother. By the time they were five years old, they were playing the Celtic violin. Coming from a family of fiddlers, dancers, and singers, learning stepdancing and the violin at a young age was a logical development. It’s a continuation of that significant culture into vibrant tunes and arrangements as the Beaton Sisters’ Band!

Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a BACS/BBA/music certificate student at CBU. He spent most of his childhood in the Caribbean, but also spent his summers in Cape Breton visiting family. Ben has been playing the fiddle/violin for ten years, and has performed in an orchestra. He has played at local and international community events. During the summer of 2023 he worked at the Gaelic College, performing and MCing at Cèilidhs.

Kyle MacNeil

The pinnacle of his impressive musical career includes sharing the stage with international superstar Celine Dion when the Barra MacNeils opened her sell-out “The Colour of My Love” tour. Playing sold out stadiums was an experience Kyle will never forget, but regardless if they are playing in front of college kids, soccer moms or retirees, the Barra MacNeils’ engaging performances are always something special for the audience and performers alike.

Kyle currently teaches a Cape Breton fiddle course at Cape Breton University, and also offers private lessons in both the Cape Breton and the classical violin styles. When not on the road, Kyle regularly hits the ice for a game of hockey or perfects his swing on the golf course.

Ryan MacNeil

Ryan MacNeil grew up in a musical environment in Sydney Mines. After spending a number of years recording and touring with Slàinte Mhath—a popular Cape Breton-based Celtic fusion band—Ryan and his brother Boyd joined their siblings in The Barra MacNeils. Although best-known for his innovative piano accompaniment, Ryan also plays percussion, Uilleann pipes, tin whistle, bodhran, and step dances. He has been living in South Africa the past seven years and while there, he released a self-titled album with South African guests and composed and recorded many tunes. His arrival back to Cape Breton has him fully immersed into the Celtic culture of the Cape Breton Island including traditional sessions at Island Folk Cider House, square dances, guest appearances with The Barra MacNeils, and a summer-time reunion of Slàinte Mhath.

David Meuse

David Muise, a dedicated Cultural Ambassador at Membertou Trade and Convention Center, is one of three individuals who won the Vital Excellence Award 2021, which was awarded to individuals who have played a vital role in their community through volunteerism, culture, leadership, innovation, etc. He is described as an important link between the First Nation and surrounding communities, and known for being a motivational, inspired and kind soul in Membertou.

Nina Kent

Nina Kent is an Anishinaabe woman from the Treaty 3 territory, Washagamis Bay First Nation, Ontario. She moved to Cape Breton to finish her education at Cape Breton University (CBU) and planned to move back to Ontario after completing her education. Her love for the Island, meaningful employment and meeting her life partner helped her make the easy decision to stay and set a foundation for her life on Cape Breton Island.

Nina is very culturally involved as a jingle dress dancer, artist and mother of two small children. Her use of culture and identity has inspired Nina to incorporate her culture into all aspects of her work.

Rudy Pacé

Rudy Pacé is a dedicated East Coast Canadian songwriter who’s been compared to legends such as Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. He was born and raised on Cape Breton Island and currently resides in Halifax. Rudy follows in the footsteps of his musically gifted Grandfather, who is both an inspiration and his namesake. His catalogue of music includes hard hitting brutally honest commentary on very real issues past and present as portrayed in his song “Broken Bones”, to heartbreaking folk ballads that will relate to anyone who has been in love or has fallen hard out of it (“Foxy”). Rudy was the CBMIC Front Stage Contest winner in 2017 which noted that he is a “strong folk storyteller who pours poignant lyrics to the page and thoughtful melodies to the masses”. While Rudy’s personal style of music falls into the folk category, he is also the lead vocalist in the Halifax rock band Electric Spoonful, who have been regular nominees in Best of Halifax, winning Bronze in 2023 and taking home Loud Record of the Year at Music Nova Scotia’s Music Week in Sydney last year.

Forester Dancers

The Forrester School of Dance is located in Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada. The dance school is one of three main entities housed under the parent company, The Forrester Production Group Limited, owned and operated by Shannon Forrester.

The school was established in 1965 by founder Eileen (Pottie) Forrester, and was the first of its kind in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Today, the school is under the direction of Shannon Forrester who provides not only dance training, but mentoring, training and life skills with the many events and experiences that take place at The Forrester Centre. Shannon is also a member and performer with the Forrester Dance Company. Besides branches that existed over the years throughout the industrial Cape Breton area, programs of the school are regularly requested and offered nationally and internationally.

Kyle MacNeil’s Music Class

Kyle MacNeil is a founding member of the globally renowned Barra MacNeils. Kyle currently teaches a Cape Breton fiddle course at Cape Breton University, and also offers private lessons in both the Cape Breton and the classical violin styles. Members of Kyle MacNeil’s music class will take to the stage to showcase impressive talent imparted by their instructor Kyle MacNeil