Just over a year ago, during the holiday season, Swept did a cover on what was then the harrowing history of and budding beginning to the Littlest You Project. You can find the original piece right HERE. Founder and Global Operations Manager of Live Large Music and driving force behind the Littlest You Project, Scott Reid, has given much of his time to me in the form of Facebook chats, video calls, and the use of I don’t know how many long distance minutes working to keep myself and others in the loop; always sharing his appreciation for the support of others. That’s the nature of Reid though. His seemingly limitless passion for his work, coupled with a surprisingly transparent business model breaks down many of the barriers in his way to achieving the “dream goals” he has set for himself, his company, and the Littlest You Project. I laugh to myself now as I think about the time he has spent talking to me, with only a few hours between us (from Simcoe to Nipissing). After all, he’s been talking to people all over the world for nearly two years developing this project and I’m sure the time differences don’t allow for much in the way of sleep.
“When I first began planning this Project shortly after Madeline’s death I set out to accomplish many things, but as each milestone was reached, I realized how much more it could do for all of us and it made me work even harder.”
With his inspirational project, Reid has made leaps and bounds in this past year. English, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Yoruba were the only singles available when the first feature came out, and Ojibwe, Japanese, and Tagalog were just being prepped for release. Now, just a year later, there are a dozen in the can available through your top online music stores. There are twenty three completed translations ready for release, and over seventy more in various stages of completion adding to the ever-growing list of languages sharing the story of little Madeline; inviting the world to share in and examine the essence of the tumultuousness of life alongside the true exploration of global togetherness. That might sound both incredibly depressing and hippie-ish but the Littlest You Project has come a very long way in only a year’s time in spite of those connotations. From the pain through which this project sprang all the way to the unity which the project is producing, there is an ongoing and invaluable impact on the personal healing of Reid, and he has an intriguing way of looking at this process. “With each new version completed, I feel another puzzle piece from my former self return to me; perhaps in time, the holes her loss created will fill in enough for me to feel something close to whole again.” Given the already far reaches of the movement, I feel obligated to delve into cliche here and say with resounding truth that music is indeed a universal language.
Now why, aside from the grief this project has helped to relieve, is it at all important for us to give both our care and support? Well, there is a new development with the Littlest You Project that might have you reeling. As mentioned a year ago on Swept and throughout this past year on all manner of media, Scott Reid is moving his project towards the Guinness Book of World Records. What’s interesting about this, aside from the fact that the record for ”Song sung in the most languages by one Artist/Group.” is definitely going to be broken (in what is looking to be less than a year) is that each of us could have a very important role to play in its initial and continued success. The “Record Reaching” contest is open to the entire world! Reid is already in contact with people who hold the keys to hundreds of languages, but there are always more doors to knock on, and more people to welcome into the fold.
“I was asked by Guinness to put a timeline on our Official Attempt and I have decided that we will give it exactly 1 year from today (Dec 12, 2017) to break the Record.”
The record for ”Song sung in the most languages by one Artist/Group.” is currently 125. That leaves just over 100 languages to go in this record-breaking feat. What is perhaps most exciting about all of this is that the Littlest You Project is putting forward a contest to see just how quickly the world can work together to reach the brink of the record. There will be a second phase (the “Record Breaking” part of the process) when the time comes, but for now, the focus is on getting right to the edge of that precipice; in “Record Reaching”. That being said, Reid calls on all of you who are interested in representing your language and your culture, to step forward and lay down vocals in your native tongue to create your own version of ‘Littlest You‘ as a means of breaking a world record, sharing in a global effort of togetherness, and preserving language and heritage around the world.
There is an emphasis on the completion of the first 125 languages that are the basis for the project to reach the first phase of its goal. That’s not to say that the next 125 or even then next 500 languages into which the song may very well be translated aren’t important. They most certainly are, but it is the first 125 that will have shared their cultural voice in a way that will have an immediate impact on the global stage in terms of collaborative musical effort at the outset of the new year, and that is something to be proud of. The hope persists that from the breaking of the record there will be hundreds of additional submissions. At that point it is no longer about the breaking of a world record…it becomes much more about the sharing of culture and community from the farthest reaches of the globe to make for an incredible feat in our human history.
For those who are close enough to travel to the cultural wind tunnel that is Toronto, Canada the recordings of vocal performances will be held at #9 Audio where Scott will personally attend the sessions and work with the talent face-to-face while they share their languages and cultures through presumably passionate performances. Of course, this won’t be possible for everyone who is free to submit to the contest, but Reid is making preliminary contact with studios all across the world in order to make certain that facilities are available for everyone to have the opportunity to participate in this awesome feat. The official website will be relaunched early this coming year, but until then, those who are interested in seeing what languages have already made the list should check the official Facebook page regularly, right over HERE
“ While each version in and of itself is beneficial to charity within those cultures where these languages are spoken natively, it is also meant to act as a vessel to preserve that language in a song shared with the world, eternally. Sadly a substantial number of our world languages are endangered and we hope to capture as many of those languages as possible. After completing the Ojibwe Single “Gaashiin Giin”, we are very hopeful to likewise capture many other First Nations languages here in Canada and Indigenous languages from all over the globe. “
This project and contest are more than just the breaking of a record, the sharing of culture, and the maintenance of languages though. It’s more about the supporting of charities around the World. For those who have read the previous Swept piece about Scott Reid, Live Large Music, and the Littlest You Project (or for those of you who have been following the project on social media), you will already be aware of this very important component. This is another incredible incentive to engage in and support this project. Breaking a world record, being recognized globally for your music, preserving language, and supporting local charity to help preserve people as well. Considering how many languages there are, and how many groups of people there are immersed in the use of each language, I dare say this is one worthy cause to be a part of. For those of you who may be considering submitting to perform ‘Littlest You‘ in your native language (or if you know someone who might be interested), you can submit an audition piece of any song in your language to this address: email@example.com. The “Record Reaching” contest will run until the vocals tracks from the first 125 languages are recorded. Until the tracks are officially laid down, the contest will remain open. Those who break that 125 will then be found on the other side of a new world record!
In conversation with Scott, I discovered something that I had not previously known. There are damn near seven thousand languages across the world! Sadly, there are those apart from this staggering number that are considered dead or extinct languages (and every day more languages come closer to bridging that gap from the endangered to the extinct). Incredibly, there are 520 distinct languages in Nigeria alone! And, to my overwhelming surprise, there are over 800 languages in New Guinea! I knew the world was diverse, but I never realized just how exorbitantly diverse we are as people with regards to communication. My instinct is to say that it might be too ambitious to reach up into the thousands for this project, but this time last year I hadn’t expected the incredible following and cherishing that this project has taken on.
“We’re going for it…We hope people everywhere will proudly embrace the unifying aspect built into the Project and help to continue to raise awareness, through social media sharing. We further hope to inspire excitement in translators and vocal performers alike that wish to see their own languages and cultures represented in the Project”
I have had the privilege of speaking to some of the people who have been a part of the project from very early on. One who resonates with me is Skeldee Maksaluta from Lagos, Nigeria. Skeldee (Sunday Anthony Diayi) translated and performed vocals for Ayanfe Mi, the Yoruba single for the Littlest You Project. His passion and enthusiasm for the movement have been inspiring. Feeling down on myself for one reason or another, I received a message from him talking about the project. He appears to be eternally enthusiastic and ready to make this project a success. Skeldee has been personally overseeing the creation of the charitable relationship with Little Saints Orphanage in Lagos. He believes part of that success will come from more live performances of the song in Canada in order to be the basis for inspiring performance around the world (and maybe there’s some truth to that). I can’t imagine Scott taking on any more in terms of organizing live performances, though I know that creation and performance are where his heart truly lies. Perhaps this “Record Reaching” contest will be just the inspiration needed to lead to those global performances.
That’s the interesting thing about Scott. The amount of work that he is willing to do in order to see this project through. This project has been an undeniable passion of his ever since he finished writing ‘Littlest You‘ shortly after the passing of his daughter as a means of dealing with what I can only assume is one of the most painful tragedies of all. And from that loss till now, Reid has trudged through the depths of depression and soared up through the heights of elation. Every time he and I manage time to send a message or take a phone call, he is engaged heart and soul in this project…but I know he cannot wait to turn this budding network of musical collaboration into a beautiful flower of passionate performance.
Given that, Reid is more than happy to share a link for viewing and download of the lyrics and chords of ‘Littlest You‘ to anyone in the world who is interested in covering the song. To receive info regarding translations, vocal performances and/or covers of ‘Littlest You‘, Reid has requested that communications be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with both language and culture in the subject line. Do tell Scott about yourselves too. He is incredibly personable and is certainly interested in getting to know each and every prospective member of this global initiative.
“It’s been a rewarding learning experience.”
I have watched Scott perform ’Littlest You‘ and I know his heart is in this project. “Admittedly, I have learned more about the world around me and the people who share it, in the 20 months the Project has been running than I had in my entire lifetime before.” And you might very well find your heart touched by either the lyrics or the music, or the background of the project, or perhaps even by the inspiring journey that lead to the fruition of this work. And if that’s you, perhaps you should consider sharing this project with those around you who you think could contribute, and by liking and sharing the Facebook page into your own networks. You never know who you might reach in your own contact list. Perhaps through a simple share of a post or link, you might discover, for example, that someone you know comes from an Indigenous people, where the language they might speak natively and historically within their own culture is threatened or even critically endangered. “This Project can help to keep these languages safe to some extent by means of a digitized copy of the language via this cultural contribution into the unifying and loving experience that really is at the core of the vision to bring together the whole world.”
Something you might be wondering with regards to the released singles is “Where can I get my hands on them?” That’s a worthwhile question. For the time being, all twelve language tracks are available online, but in the works right now are both CD collections and vinyl singles (with the original English recording on the B side for your listening pleasure) with a complete “from scratch” remix. “We will be releasing them in 25 track Volumes on CD and as Singles on 7″ Vinyl, encapsulating each stage of the adventure.” That means there will be five different CD releases leading up to the breaking of the record. And who knows how many more there will be after that? It’s all dependent on the support you all have for truly independently made music.
“In addition to the global unity the Project is fostering in this moment, it goes further to unify people everywhere for many many years to come, through the Madeline-Amy Foundation. A portion of every monetized component of the Littlest You Global Project will be used for the creation and implementation of the Foundation in my daughter’s honour.”
One last important piece of information when it comes to the Littlest You Project is the formation of the Madeline-Amy Foundation. This is the not-for-profit organization that is supported by the world’s collaborative musical effort in this project. Portions from each track sale will go to build the Madeline-Amy foundation. While unable to go into full detail about just what manner of aid the foundation will provide for those in need, Reid has assured us “that the number one objective is to have the ability to help global citizens everywhere in those times they need it the most.”
A man of integrity and of his word, all I can say from personal experience and from the very apparent efforts; leaps and bounds that the Littlest You Project has made this year, is that I think Scott Reid is ensuring that many good things are coming from and for the world of music. And not just for music, but also for the people who create it.
“Art and cultural expression have defined us as members of an incredibly diverse civilization from the very beginning. In these emerging life on-demand and subscription-based times we are moving into as the paradigm continues to shift; the continuing struggles between creators and consumers are ever changing and I feel it leaves ample room for positive compromise and agreement, if we can only look past the moment.”