Canada Games anthem singer feels for athletes
Sarah Botelho, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter/pianist who performs under the name POESY, was definitely not chosen as the anthem writer for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games based on her athletic abilities.
“I was never a sport person so this was quite challenging for me,” the 5-foot-11 performer said. “I am quite tall and have been tall since I was a little kid so when I was younger I played basketball. But I could not do anything other than be taller than everyone else. I like yoga, running and climbing but anything with a ball I am not very good at it.”
When she was 14 or 15, she told people she wasn’t interested in being an athlete any more.
“At that point, I was deep into classic rock already and I was starting to play in bands. I decided I was just going to stick to that.”
Her favourite band is Queen and she also likes Led Zeppelin, The Who and the Guess Who.
“My dad introduced me to some good music and I am sure he is really proud of that,” Botelho said. “I would go to the record store downtown and buy the belt buckles with the bands on them. I was totally that kid but it was super weird because I was in love with all these bands I could never see because they had broken up. I wish I would have been alive in the 80s. My hair would have been so cool.”
Botelho’s involvement with the Canada Summer Games came by chance two years ago while visiting her parents, Ulisses and Lisa Botelho, who were living in St. Catharines at the time. Her parent’s neighbours’ kids were fans of POESY and Botelho’s mom invited them over so she could play them a couple of songs.
“Their dad was a member of the committee for the Canada Games at the time and he came as well. I guess he was really taken with me and liked my stuff. He went to work on Monday and said, ‘We’ve got to reach out to this girl because she is the perfect person to do this.’ I got it touch with the chair and everything, I spent a lot of time deciding how I would capture this moment for athletes and now we are going to perform it.”
She will be performing the anthem, Steel Heart, tonight at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games’ 100-Day-Out Celebration/Rise with Glowing Hearts Concert at the Meridian Centre. Other artists preforming are Tim Hicks and Loverboy.
It is the second time POESY has performed the song live. The first time was at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on the day after it was released.
“This will be the first time I am performing it for anything to do with the Games and I have also never played on a stage this big. I am really excited and very pumped.”
She will also be performing the song at the Games’ Opening Ceremony Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines and the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 21 at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls.
“I just hope it is something they can listen to in the locker room and it helps them.”
Her message to the athletes is simple.
“When I sat down to write it, I really felt for all these athletes because much like everyone on music , their whole lives have been put on hold with this pandemic,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to train for these Games and then keep having it getting pushed and pushed back. I wanted to capture the feeling of ‘This is my time.’ ”
Botelho feels there are a lot of similarities between athletes and musicians.
“It is really hard to be in industries like this because they are so non-traditional, where you get a lot of rejection and there is no guarantee that you will be able to reach the place you want to be. It takes a lot of heart and a lot of courage and I think all of these athletes have that.”
The chorus for the song reads: My steel heart. Is the hammer that drives me. I know nothing can stop me. And my steel heart. It came from a spark. Now the fire’s inside me. Oh I owe everything I am to my steel heart.