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RCAF Band Musicians Produce Official Video of RCAF100 and Winning Song

Updated: Jun 4

By: MCpl Derek Stevenson


The RCAF Band has been very busy celebrating the 100th birthday of the RCAF this year including participation in galas, airshows and many other events being held throughout the year. But the band has just wrapped up a very special project that contributes to the RCAF100 in their own unique way. 



In the fall of 2022, the RCAF Centennial Committee announced a song writing competition in order to select the official song of RCAF100. Sgt Scott Foster, former bass player with the RCAF Band at the time, was interested in the idea and mulled it over for a while. He eventually came up with a concept but didn’t finish it initially because life got in the way and he “didn’t think what he had was all that special”.  After a few months had passed, Scott was inspired to get back to work on his rough draft. But the submission deadline was quickly approaching, and he needed the assistance of someone who could help get the job done. He approached Sgt Francis (Frank) Pariseau, guitarist from the RCAF Band, who is someone that Scott knew would be perfect for the job; he is bilingual, a brilliant musician and arranger, and a great friend. Over the next few weeks, they put their heads together and transformed Scott’s initial concept into a more complete idea and one they both thought was something to be proud of. Once they had a finished product, they brought it to work and recorded a demo track with the band. They were able to submit it to the Centennial committee on time at the end of February 2023. A couple months after submission, they received word that their song had won and been selected as the official song of the RCAF Centennial!

 

For Scott, this meant a lot to him personally. He drew on a lot of inspiration from the people he has met over the years and the experiences he has had throughout his time in the RCAF while writing the song. But more importantly, he was inspired by his dad and his love of aviation: “(Dad) designed and built flying model airplanes. He eventually earned his private pilot’s license and flew his home-built Osprey II for over 30 years!" Sadly, Scott's dad passed away in 2020. While Scott was writing the song, he recalled their many nights spent together at the airport, talking about flying and military history, so for him the meaning of the song was even more special. For Frank, the honour of being asked by Scott to team up with him for the project was huge: "I want to mention how great it felt to have [Scott's] trust in collaborating with such an important, meaningful, and creative thing for [Scott]... Without a doubt the highlight of my career and one of the greatest moments of my life." 

 

Now that the song was going to be the official song of RCAF100, it had to be recorded in time to use for the celebrations. The band flew to Toronto in September 2023 to record at Noble Street Studios with the help of Gavin Brown. Gavin is a multi-Juno award winner and has worked with artists such as Shawn Mendes, The Barenaked Ladies, and the Weeknd, just to name a few. Once in the studio, members from the RCAF Band recorded the official bilingual version of the song as well as hard rock and acoustic versions.  Although the recording process was rigorous and demanding, it was a lifetime highlight for everyone involved. Scott was also able to bring some of his dad’s model airplanes to the recording studio. Scott says, “while it’s sad that he won’t get to hear the song he inspired, it was special to feel that he was there too.”

 



The next step in the process was to produce a music video to go with the song, enter Cpl Mikolaj Debowski: a trombonist with the RCAF Band, and an equally talented videographer. Mik came up with the initial idea for the video and took the lead on many aspects with the help of many outside agencies and contractors. 435 Squadron, with the help of Captain Gayle Beaudoin, played a particularly important role in the video. The Squadron worked with the band to perform a fly-over scene for the video and even approved Sgt Pariseau to film a guitar solo while on board a Hercules mid-air with the tail open! Another special guest in the video is retired Flying Officer Richard Earl who was born the same year the RCAF was founded in 1924, served in India and Burma during the Second World War, and joined 435 Squadron when it was created in 1944. 


A private pre-screening viewing of the music video took place on 27 May for key stakeholders and everyone who was involved in or supported the project. It was a culmination of over a year of work by the entire team of songwriters, band members, audio technicians, film crew, and everyone else behind the scenes. The event was also attended by many senior leadership of 17 Wing who commented on the extremely high quality of both the song and video, and that the impact will be felt throughout the entire RCAF for some time to come. Later that week on 1 June, the RCAF Band officially premiered the video and performed the song live at the RCAF Gala in Ottawa. It has since been made available on the RCAF Facebook and YouTube channels.

 



We, at the RCAF Band, have an unofficial saying in how we do business which is "best idea wins". There were a lot of good ideas put into this project which as a whole "idea", won not only the competition, but the hearts of everyone who heard the song or saw the video. We hope you have a chance to see or hear the finished product on social media or at any of the centennial events throughout this anniversary year. 


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